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- Sarah Palin Could Win The 2012 GOP Presidential Nomination
- MSNBC Chris Matthews: Sarah Palin’s a “Frightening, Empty Vessel, Nothing Going on Mentally” (Video)
- Sarah Palin: Faux Populist
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Tag Archives: Alaska Pipeline
Alaska’s Big Business, Lobbyists had Gov. Sarah Palin’s Ear: Calendar Shows Environmental and Labor Groups Had Less Access
Today the Los Angeles Times published an article by Stephen Braun, Tom Hamburger and Chuck Neubauer which directly contradicts Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s claims to be a public official who is always there for the working class “Joe Six-Packs” and everyday “Hockey Moms,” not ‘big business interests.’ Unless, of course, the “Joe Six-Packs” Gov. Palin is referring to are chief executives from corporations such as Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, and lobbyists from Enstar, a large gas company.
Big business was granted wide access to Sarah Palin’s office during her first 20 months as Alaska governor, but she rarely met with labor, environmental or other groups pressing alternative views, her official calendar shows.
On at least three dozen occasions, Palin, now the Republican vice presidential nominee, spoke with executives and lobbyists working for an array of energy, mining and tourism firms with major investments in Alaska.
Among those who visited Palin’s Juneau office multiple times were the chief executives of Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips, as well as several dozen other top oil and gas company officials.
“We have not had problems with access to Gov. Palin or her key department people,” said Ashley Reed, a lobbyist who was on a team of natural-gas officials who met with Palin in April 2007. Reed was working with Enstar, a gas firm seeking approval for a natural-gas “bullet” pipeline.
Despite that access, however, Palin has cut an independent course on oil and gas issues — which has won wide acclaim from Alaskans. She forced the companies to share windfall profits with the state, moved to pull the lucrative leases of those that were not actively exploring for oil and chose a Canadian firm to manage a major gas pipeline project.
Still, Palin has held few meetings with groups holding alternative views.
Her calendar shows that Palin met four times in those 20 months with officials from the Teamsters, who endorsed her 2006 gubernatorial bid, and the AFL-CIO.
She also held two sessions with members of a conservation group seeking state support in addressing climate change — an issue on which Palin does not see eye to eye with environmentalists.
“I don’t think we’ve had the time we need to press the importance of our issues,” said Kate Troll, executive director of the Alaska Conservation Alliance. The activists have not been granted a follow-up to a February 2007 meeting with the governor “despite multiple requests,” said Peter Van Tuyn, an Alaska environmental lawyer.
In an August interview with National Public Radio before being named John McCain’s running mate, Palin declared: “I’ve had about two lobbyists, two, maybe three lobbyists who have snuck in [to her statehouse office] with a group of people. So I can’t say they’ve never been in, but we don’t invite lobbyists in.”
According to her calendar, however, Palin has met with more than a dozen registered lobbyists since taking office in December 2006.
Taylor Griffin, a McCain campaign spokesman in Anchorage, insisted that Palin “has a policy that she does not meet with lobbyists. As governor, she has hundreds of meetings and, as she concedes, occasionally a lobbyist slips through.”
But the policy “was never clearly articulated,” a former senior aide said. “It didn’t get applied consistently.”
Though some veteran lobbyists have complained about being effectively barred from Palin’s office, Reed and several others said Palin’s aides were aware before the meetings that lobbyists would be coming.
“My personal experience is they’ve always welcomed discussions,” Reed said.
In several cases, registered lobbyists met with Palin and returned for second sessions.
Robert A. Evans, a veteran lobbyist in Anchorage, and several Safeway supermarket executives met with Palin on April 17, 2007. Eight days later, Evans returned to her office with a team of executives from Agrium, an ammonia and fertilizer operation.
Lisa Parker, an Agrium executive who also is a registered lobbyist, was among them. Evans confirmed the meetings but otherwise declined to comment.
The Times obtained Palin’s calendar under a Freedom of Information Act request. The governor’s office turned down a similar request for calendars and schedules pertaining to her husband, Todd Palin, who reportedly has played a prominent role in her decision-making.
Gov. Palin’s office said her husband does not keep a calendar.
In addition to meetings with big business and lobbyists, Palin’s calendar indicates that she filled her daily schedules with dozens of media interviews.
That access seems a far cry from her recent complaints that the national media has “filtered” her message as a vice presidential candidate.
According to aides, Palin wooed reporters in Juneau with plates of brownies and telephone calls on their birthdays.
Courting the Alaska press proved to be a key component of her soaring popularity in the state — long before she struggled during interviews with national television anchors Katie Couric and Charles Gibson.
“She craved publicity and the poll ratings that came with it,” said Larry Persily, a former Alaska journalist who worked for Palin in Alaska’s state office in Washington until earlier this year.
The calendar also details Palin’s frequent stays at her home in Wasilla, Alaska — which became a source of controversy when it was learned that she collected per diem allowances while away from the governor’s mansion in Juneau.
Palin received a $60 stipend for each of the hundreds of days she worked out of Anchorage and stayed at home, about an hour away.
Alaska officials said she is entitled to the per diem when she works outside the state capital, and Griffin added that Palin has spent much less on travel and security arrangements than her Republican predecessor, Frank Murkowski.
Palin collected the per diem for six days around Christmas 2007 when she had no events listed on her official calendar. She was paid for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve but did not seek stipends for Christmas or New Year’s Day.
Her official work away from Juneau for which she received stipends included visits to libraries in Wasilla and nearby Palmer, a stop at the annual Bear Paw Festival in Eagle River and attendance at the Moose Dropping Festival in Talkeetna.
We have survived another week of Gov. Sarah Palin’s dangerous character assassinations against presidential candidate Barack Obama in which she whipped up McCain supporters to the point where some in the crowds were even shouting “terrorist” and “kill him” in reference to Sen. Obama. Tremendous mainstream media coverage has been spent debating Barack Obama’s past “extremists” connections, while virtually little if any attention is given to Gov. Palin’s own personal and political extremists associations.
In an excellent in-depth examination by Max Blumenthal and David Neiwert, and with research support by the Nation Institute Investigative Fund, Salon.com published yesterday a lengthy article for voters’ consideration on Alaska Governor Sarah Palin ties to “radical” right wing leaders.
On the afternoon of Sept. 24 in downtown Palmer, Alaska, as the sun began to sink behind the snowcapped mountains that flank the picturesque Mat-Su Valley, 51-year-old Mark Chryson sat for an hour on a park bench, reveling in tales of his days as chairman of the Alaska Independence Party. The stocky, gray-haired computer technician waxed nostalgic about quixotic battles to eliminate taxes, support the “traditional family” and secede from the United States.
So long as Alaska remained under the boot of the federal government, said Chryson, the AIP had to stand on guard to stymie a New World Order. He invited a Salon reporter to see a few items inside his pickup truck that were intended for his personal protection. “This here is my attack dog,” he said with a chuckle, handing the reporter an exuberant 8-pound papillon from his passenger seat. “Her name is Suzy.” Then he pulled a 9-millimeter Makarov PM pistol — once the standard-issue sidearm for Soviet cops — out of his glove compartment. “I’ve got enough weaponry to raise a small army in my basement,” he said, clutching the gun in his palm. “Then again, so do most Alaskans.” But Chryson added a message of reassurance to residents of that faraway place some Alaskans call “the 48.” “We want to go our separate ways,” he said, “but we are not going to kill you.”
Though Chryson belongs to a fringe political party, one that advocates the secession of Alaska from the Union, and that organizes with other like-minded secessionist movements from Canada to the Deep South, he is not without peculiar influence in state politics, especially the rise of Sarah Palin. An obscure figure outside of Alaska, Chryson has been a political fixture in the hometown of the Republican vice-presidential nominee for over a decade. During the 1990s, when Chryson directed the AIP, he and another radical right-winger, Steve Stoll, played a quiet but pivotal role in electing Palin as mayor of Wasilla and shaping her political agenda afterward. Both Stoll and Chryson not only contributed to Palin’s campaign financially, they played major behind-the-scenes roles in the Palin camp before, during and after her victory.
Palin backed Chryson as he successfully advanced a host of anti-tax, pro-gun initiatives, including one that altered the state Constitution’s language to better facilitate the formation of anti-government militias. She joined in their vendetta against several local officials they disliked, and listened to their advice about hiring. She attempted to name Stoll, a John Birch Society activist known in the Mat-Su Valley as “Black Helicopter Steve,” to an empty Wasilla City Council seat. “Every time I showed up her door was open,” said Chryson. “And that policy continued when she became governor.”
When Chryson first met Sarah Palin, however, he didn’t really trust her politically. It was the early 1990s, when he was a member of a local libertarian pressure group called SAGE, or Standing Against Government Excess. (SAGE’s founder, Tammy McGraw, was Palin’s birth coach.) Palin was a leader in a pro-sales-tax citizens group called WOW, or Watch Over Wasilla, earning a political credential before her 1992 campaign for City Council. Though he was impressed by her interpersonal skills, Chryson greeted Palin’s election warily, thinking she was too close to the Democrats on the council and too pro-tax.
But soon, Palin and Chryson discovered they could be useful to each other. Palin would be running for mayor, while Chryson was about to take over the chairmanship of the Alaska Independence Party, which at its peak in 1990 had managed to elect a governor.
The AIP was born of the vision of “Old Joe” Vogler, a hard-bitten former gold miner who hated the government of the United States almost as much as he hated wolves and environmentalists. His resentment peaked during the early 1970s when the federal government began installing Alaska’s oil and gas pipeline. Fueled by raw rage — “The United States has made a colony of Alaska,” he told author John McPhee in 1977 — Vogler declared a maverick candidacy for the governorship in 1982. Though he lost, Old Joe became a force to be reckoned with, as well as a constant source of amusement for Alaska’s political class. During a gubernatorial debate in 1982, Vogler proposed using nuclear weapons to obliterate the glaciers blocking roadways to Juneau. “There’s gold under there!” he exclaimed.
Vogler made another failed run for the governor’s mansion in 1986. But the AIP’s fortunes shifted suddenly four years later when Vogler convinced Richard Nixon’s former interior secretary, Wally Hickel, to run for governor under his party’s banner. Hickel coasted to victory, outflanking a moderate Republican and a centrist Democrat. An archconservative Republican running under the AIP candidate, Jack Coghill, was elected lieutenant governor.
Hickel’s subsequent failure as governor to press for a vote on Alaskan independence rankled Old Joe. With sponsorship from the Islamic Republic of Iran, Vogler was scheduled to present his case for Alaskan secession before the United Nations General Assembly in the late spring of 1993. But before he could, Old Joe’s long, strange political career ended tragically that May when he was murdered by a fellow secessionist.
Hickel rejoined the Republican Party the year after Vogler’s death and didn’t run for reelection. Lt. Gov. Coghill’s campaign to succeed him as the AIP candidate for governor ended in disaster; he peeled away just enough votes from the Republican, Jim Campbell, to throw the gubernatorial election to Democrat Tony Knowles.
Despite the disaster, Coghill hung on as AIP chairman for three more years. When he was asked to resign in 1997, Mark Chryson replaced him. Chryson pursued a dual policy of cozying up to secessionist and right-wing groups in Alaska and elsewhere while also attempting to replicate the AIP’s success with Hickel in infiltrating the mainstream.
Unlike some radical right-wingers, Chryson doesn’t put forward his ideas freighted with anger or paranoia. And in a state where defense of gun and property rights often takes on a real religious fervor, Chryson was able to present himself as a typical Alaskan.
He rose through party ranks by reducing the AIP’s platform to a single page that “90 percent of Alaskans could agree with.” This meant scrubbing the old platform of what Chryson called “racist language” while accommodating the state’s growing Christian right movement by emphasizing the AIP’s commitment to the “traditional family.”
“The AIP is very family-oriented,” Chryson explained. “We’re for the traditional family — daddy, mommy, kids — because we all know that it was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. And we don’t care if Heather has two mommies. That’s not a traditional family.”
Chryson further streamlined the AIP’s platform by softening its secessionist language. Instead of calling for immediate separation from the United States, the platform now demands a vote on independence.
Yet Chryson maintains that his party remains committed to full independence. “The Alaskan Independence Party has got links to almost every independence-minded movement in the world,” Chryson exclaimed. “And Alaska is not the only place that’s about separation. There’s at least 30 different states that are talking about some type of separation from the United States.”
This has meant rubbing shoulders and forging alliances with outright white supremacists and far-right theocrats, particularly those who dominate the proceedings at such gatherings as the North American Secessionist conventions, which AIP delegates have attended in recent years. The AIP’s affiliation with neo-Confederate organizations is motivated as much by ideological affinity as by organizational convenience. Indeed, Chryson makes no secret of his sympathy for the Lost Cause. “Should the Confederate states have been allowed to separate and go their peaceful ways?” Chryson asked rhetorically. “Yes. The War of Northern Aggression, or the Civil War, or the War Between the States — however you want to refer to it — was not about slavery, it was about states’ rights.”
Another far-right organization with whom the AIP has long been aligned is Howard Phillips’ militia-minded Constitution Party. The AIP has been listed as the Constitution Party’s state affiliate since the late 1990s, and it has endorsed the Constitution Party’s presidential candidates (Michael Peroutka and Chuck Baldwin) in the past two elections.
The Constitution Party boasts an openly theocratic platform that reads, “It is our goal to limit the federal government to its delegated, enumerated, Constitutional functions and to restore American jurisprudence to its original Biblical common-law foundations.” In its 1990s incarnation as the U.S. Taxpayers Party, it was on the front lines in promoting the “militia” movement, and a significant portion of its membership comprises former and current militia members.
At its 1992 convention, the AIP hosted both Phillips — the USTP’s presidential candidate — and militia-movement leader Col. James “Bo” Gritz, who was campaigning for president under the banner of the far-right Populist Party. According to Chryson, AIP regulars heavily supported Gritz, but the party deferred to Phillips’ presence and issued no official endorsements.
In Wasilla, the AIP became powerful by proxy — because of Chryson and Stoll’s alliance with Sarah Palin. Chryson and Stoll had found themselves in constant opposition to policies of Wasilla’s Democratic mayor, who started his three-term, nine-year tenure in 1987. By 1992, Chryson and Stoll had begun convening regular protests outside City Council. Their demonstrations invariably involved grievances against any and all forms of “socialist government,” from city planning to public education. Stoll shared Chryson’s conspiratorial views: “The rumor was that he had wrapped his guns in plastic and buried them in his yard so he could get them after the New World Order took over,” Stein told a reporter.
Chryson did not trust Palin when she joined the City Council in 1992. He claimed that she was handpicked by Democratic City Council leaders and by Wasilla’s Democratic mayor, John Stein, to rubber-stamp their tax hike proposals. “When I first met her,” he said, “I thought she was extremely left. But I’ve watched her slowly as she’s become more pronounced in her conservative ideology.”
Palin was well aware of Chryson’s views. “She knew my beliefs,” Chryson said. “The entire state knew my beliefs. I wasn’t afraid of being on the news, on camera speaking my views.”
But Chryson believes she trusted his judgment because he accurately predicted what life on the City Council would be like. “We were telling her, ‘This is probably what’s going to happen,'” he said. “‘The city is going to give this many people raises, they’re going to pave everybody’s roads, and they’re going to pave the City Council members’ roads.’ We couldn’t have scripted it better because everything we predicted came true.”
After intense evangelizing by Chryson and his allies, they claimed Palin as a convert. “When she started taking her job seriously,” Chryson said, “the people who put her in as the rubber stamp found out the hard way that she was not going to go their way.” In 1994, Sarah Palin attended the AIP’s statewide convention. In 1995, her husband, Todd, changed his voter registration to AIP. Except for an interruption of a few months, he would remain registered was an AIP member until 2002, when he changed his registration to undeclared.
In 1996, Palin decided to run against John Stein as the Republican candidate for mayor of Wasilla. While Palin pushed back against Stein’s policies, particularly those related to funding public works, Chryson said he and Steve Stoll prepared the groundwork for her mayoral campaign.
Chryson and Stoll viewed Palin’s ascendancy as a vehicle for their own political ambitions. “She got support from these guys,” Stein remarked. “I think smart politicians never utter those kind of radical things, but they let other people do it for them. I never recall Sarah saying she supported the militia or taking a public stand like that. But these guys were definitely behind Sarah, thinking she was the more conservative choice.”
“They worked behind the scenes,” said Stein. “I think they had a lot of influence in terms of helping with the back-scatter negative campaigning.”
Indeed, Chryson boasted that he and his allies urged Palin to focus her campaign on slashing character-based attacks. For instance, Chryson advised Palin to paint Stein as a sexist who had told her “to just sit there and look pretty” while she served on Wasilla’s City Council. Though Palin never made this accusation, her 1996 campaign for mayor was the most negative Wasilla residents had ever witnessed.
While Palin played up her total opposition to the sales tax and gun control — the two hobgoblins of the AIP — mailers spread throughout the town portraying her as “the Christian candidate,” a subtle suggestion that Stein, who is Lutheran, might be Jewish. “I watched that campaign unfold, bringing a level of slime our community hadn’t seen until then,” recalled Phil Munger, a local music teacher who counts himself as a close friend of Stein.
“This same group [Stoll and Chryson] also [publicly] challenged me on whether my wife and I were married because she had kept her maiden name,” Stein bitterly recalled. “So we literally had to produce a marriage certificate. And as I recall, they said, ‘Well, you could have forged that.'”
When Palin won the election, the men who had once shouted anti-government slogans outside City Hall now had a foothold inside the mayor’s office. Palin attempted to pay back her newfound pals during her first City Council meeting as mayor. In that meeting, on Oct. 14, 1996, she appointed Stoll to one of the City Council’s two newly vacant seats. But Palin was blocked by the single vote of then-Councilman Nick Carney, who had endured countless rancorous confrontations with Stoll and considered him a “violent” influence on local politics. Though Palin considered consulting attorneys about finding another means of placing Stoll on the council, she was ultimately forced to back down and accept a compromise candidate.
Emboldened by his nomination by Mayor Palin, Stoll later demanded she fire Wasilla’s museum director, John Cooper, a personal enemy he longed to sabotage. Palin obliged, eliminating Cooper’s position in short order. “Gotcha, Cooper!” Stoll told the deposed museum director after his termination, as Cooper told a reporter for the New York Times. “And it only cost me a campaign contribution.” Stoll, who donated $1,000 to Palin’s mayoral campaign, did not respond to numerous requests for an interview. Palin has blamed budget concerns for Cooper’s departure.
The following year, when Carney proposed a local gun-control measure, Palin organized with Chryson to smother the nascent plan in its cradle. Carney’s proposed ordinance would have prohibited residents from carrying guns into schools, bars, hospitals, government offices and playgrounds. Infuriated by the proposal that Carney viewed as a common-sense public-safety measure, Chryson and seven allies stormed a July 1997 council meeting.
With the bill still in its formative stages, Carney was not even ready to present it to the council, let alone conduct public hearings on it. He and other council members objected to the ad-hoc hearing as “a waste of time.” But Palin — in plain violation of council rules and norms — insisted that Chryson testify, stating, according to the minutes, that “she invites the public to speak on any issue at any time.”
When Carney tried later in the meeting to have the ordinance discussed officially at the following regular council meeting, he couldn’t even get a second. His proposal died that night, thanks to Palin and her extremist allies.
“A lot of it was the ultra-conservative far right that is against everything in government, including taxes,” recalled Carney. “A lot of it was a personal attack on me as being anti-gun, and a personal attack on anybody who deigned to threaten their authority to carry a loaded firearm wherever they pleased. That was the tenor of it. And it was being choreographed by Steve Stoll and the mayor.”
Asked if he thought it was Palin who had instigated the turnout, he replied: “I know it was.”
By Chryson’s account, he and Palin also worked hand-in-glove to slash property taxes and block a state proposal that would have taken money for public programs from the Permanent Fund Dividend, or the oil and gas fund that doles out annual payments to citizens of Alaska. Palin endorsed Chryson’s unsuccessful initiative to move the state Legislature from Juneau to Wasilla. She also lent her support to Chryson’s crusade to alter the Alaska Constitution’s language on gun rights so cities and counties could not impose their own restrictions. “It took over 10 years to get that language written in,” Chryson said. “But Sarah [Palin] was there supporting it.”
“With Sarah as a mayor,” said Chryson, “there were a number of times when I just showed up at City Hall and said, ‘Hey, Sarah, we need help.’ I think there was only one time when I wasn’t able to talk to her and that was because she was in a meeting.
Chryson says the door remains open now that Palin is governor. (Palin’s office did not respond to Salon’s request for an interview.) While Palin has been more circumspect in her dealings with groups like the AIP as she has risen through the political ranks, she has stayed in touch.
When Palin ran for governor in 2006, marketing herself as a fresh-faced reformer determined to crush the GOP’s ossified power structure, she made certain to appear at the AIP’s state convention. To burnish her maverick image, she also tapped one-time AIP member and born-again Republican Walter Hickel as her campaign co-chair. Hickel barnstormed the state for Palin, hailing her support for an “all-Alaska” liquefied gas pipeline, a project first promoted in 2002 by an AIP gubernatorial candidate named Nels Anderson. When Palin delivered her victory speech on election night, Hickel stood beaming by her side. “I made her governor,” he boasted afterward. Two years later, Hickel has endorsed Palin’s bid for vice president.
Just months before Palin burst onto the national stage as McCain’s vice-presidential nominee, she delivered a videotaped address to the AIP’s annual convention. Her message was scrupulously free of secessionist rhetoric, but complementary nonetheless. “I share your party’s vision of upholding the Constitution of our great state,” Palin told the assembly of AIP delegates. “My administration remains focused on reining in government growth so individual liberty can expand. I know you agree with that … Keep up the good work and God bless you.”
When Palin became the Republican vice-presidential nominee, her attendance of the 1994 and 2006 AIP conventions and her husband’s membership in the party (as well as Palin’s videotaped welcome to the AIP’s 2008 convention) generated a minor controversy. Chryson claimed, however, that Sarah and Todd Palin never even played a minor role in his party’s internal affairs. “Sarah’s never been a member of the Alaskan Independence Party,” Chryson insisted. “Todd has, but most of rural Alaska has too. I never saw him at a meeting. They were at one meeting I was at. Sarah said hello, but I didn’t pay attention because I was taking care of business.”
But whether the Palins participated directly in shaping the AIP’s program is less relevant than the extent to which they will implement that program. Chryson and his allies have demonstrated just as much interest in grooming major party candidates as they have in putting forward their own people. At a national convention of secessionist groups in 2007, AIP vice chairman Dexter Clark announced that his party would seek to “infiltrate” the Democratic and Republican parties with candidates sympathetic to its hard-right, secessionist agenda. “You should use that tactic. You should infiltrate,” Clark told his audience of neo-Confederates, theocrats and libertarians. “Whichever party you think in that area you can get something done, get into that party. Even though that party has its problems, right now that is the only avenue.”
Clark pointed to Palin’s political career as the model of a successful infiltration. “There’s a lot of talk of her moving up,” Clark said of Palin. “She was a member [of the AIP] when she was mayor of a small town, that was a nonpartisan job. But to get along and to go along she switched to the Republican Party … She is pretty well sympathetic because of her membership.”
Clark’s assertion that Palin was once a card-carrying AIP member was swiftly discredited by the McCain campaign, which produced records showing she had been a registered Republican since 1988. But then why would Clark make such a statement? Why did he seem confident that Palin was a true-blue AIP activist burrowing within the Republican Party? The most salient answer is that Palin was once so thoroughly embedded with AIP figures like Chryson and Stoll and seemed so enthusiastic about their agenda, Clark may have simply assumed she belonged to his party.
Now, Palin is a household name and her every move is scrutinized by the Washington press corps. She can no longer afford to kibitz with secessionists, however instrumental they may have been to her meteoric ascendancy. This does not trouble her old AIP allies. Indeed, Chryson is hopeful that Palin’s inauguration will also represent the start of a new infiltration.
“I’ve had my issues but she’s still staying true to her core values,” Chryson concluded. “Sarah’s friends don’t all agree with her, but do they respect her? Do they respect her ideology and her values? Definitely.”
Just for the record, I asked an intern to go back and double fact-check the twelve documented lies that Sarah Palin has told on the public record. These are not hyperbolic claims or rhetorical excess. They are assertions of fact that are demonstrably untrue and remain uncorrected. Every single one of the lies I documented holds up after several news cycles have had a chance to vet them even further.
I know the MSM demands that we move on from the fact that someone who could be president next January has a list of public lies so extensive and indisputable that the McCain campaign has still not been able to rebut or even address any one of them, while fencing her off from the press and refusing to hold a press conference to clear the air on so many murky questions of fact that get to the core of whether this person is fit to be vice-president or president.
So for the record, let it be known that the candidate for vice-president for the GOP is a compulsive, repetitive, demonstrable liar. If you follow the links, here is the proof. I repeat: proof:
Wasilla, Alaska resident Anne Kilkenny wrote an extremely comprehensive, objective letter on the history of Mayor Sarah Palin and her political career starting in Wasilla, Alaska. This letter has been published on a variety of internet forums and blogs nationwide over the past two weeks, but it is worth reprinting here for anyone who missed reading it the first time around. Anne Kilkenny is a homemaker and education advocate in Wasilla, Alaska. The letter was originally written to friends of Ms. Kilkenny, in which she shares her thoughts and observation about vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, whom she has personally known for many years. ~ Sarah Palin Truth Squad
Here below is Anne Kilkenny’s open letter in its entirety.
I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992. Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her father was my child’s favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the residents of the city.
She is enormously popular; in every way she’s like the most popular girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice and won’t vote for her can’t quit smiling when talking about her because she is a “babe”.
It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents for seven months. She is “pro-life”. She recently gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby. There is no cover-up involved, here; Trig is her baby. She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym.
She is savvy. She doesn’t take positions; she just “puts things out there” and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit. Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin’s kind of job is highly sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their major source of income. Nor has her life-style ever been anything like that of native Alaskans. Sarah and her whole family are avid hunters. She’s smart.
Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000 (at the time), and less than 2 years as governor of a state with about 670,000 residents. During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had given rise to a recall campaign.
Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a “fiscal conservative”. During her 6 years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over 33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation (1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they benefited residents.
The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration weren’t enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece of property that the City didn’t even have clear title to, that was still in litigation 7 yrs later-to the delight of the lawyers involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.
While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office redecorated more than once. These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city. As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state.
In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today’s surplus, borrow for needs.
She’s not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideasor compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren’t generated by her or her staff. Ideas weren’t evaluated on their merits, but on the basis of who proposed them.
While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin’s attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.
Sarah complained about the “old boy’s club” when she first ran for Mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of “old boys”. Palin fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the City and as Governor she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people, creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally grateful and fiercely loyal-loyal to the point of abusing their power to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the case of pressuring the State’s top cop (see below).
As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla’s Police Chief because he “intimidated” her, she told the press. As Governor, her recent firing of Alaska’s top cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure and she had every legal right to fire him, but it’s pretty clear that an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn’t fire her sister’s ex-husband, a State Trooper. Under investigation for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than 2 dozen contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew her support.
She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn’t like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.
Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything publicly about her.
When then-Governor Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got the best, Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: one of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no background in oil & gas issues. Within months of scoring this great job which paid $122,400/yr, she was complaining in the press about the high salary. I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this Commission (who was also the State Chair of the Republican Party) engaged in unethical behavior on the job.
In a gutsy move which some undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a gutsy fighter against the “old boys’ club” when she dramatically quit, exposing this man’s ethics violations (for which he was fined).
As Mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from Senator Ted Stevens. Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the “bridge to nowhere” after it became clear that it would be unwise not to.
As Governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative action restored most of these projects-which had been vetoed simply because she was not aware of their importance-but with the unobservant she had gained a reputation as “anti-pork”.
She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The State party leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a fiscal conservative.
Around Wasilla there are people who went to high school with Sarah.
They call her “Sarah Barracuda” because of her unbridled ambition and predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah’s mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and experienced manager, ran for Mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her.
As Governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package of legislation known as “AGIA” that forced the oil companies to march to the beat of her drum.
Like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked toglobal warming. She campaigned “as a private citizen” against a state initiaitive that would have either a) protected salmon streams from pollution from mines, or b) tied up in the courts all mining in the state (depending on who you listen to). She has pushed the State’s lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior’s decision to list polar bears as threatened species.
McCain is the oldest person to ever run for President; Sarah will be a heartbeat away from being President. There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more knowledgeable and experienced than she. However, there’s a lot of people who have underestimated her and are regretting it.
CLAIM VS FACT
- “Hockey mom”: true for a few years
- “PTA mom”: true years ago when her first-born was in elementary school, not since
- “NRA supporter”: absolutely true
- social conservative: mixed. Opposes gay marriage, BUT vetoed a bill that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships (said she did this because it was unconsitutional).
- pro-creationism: mixed. Supports it, BUT did nothing as Governor to promote it.
- “Pro-life”: mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby BUT declined to call a special legislative session on some pro-life legislation
- “Experienced”: Some high schools have more students than Wasilla has residents. Many cities have more residents than the state of Alaska. No legislative experience other than City Council. Little hands-on supervisory or managerial experience; needed help of a city administrator to run town of about 5,000.
- political maverick: not at all
- gutsy: absolutely!
- open & transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at explaining actions.
- has a developed philosophy of public policy: no
- “a Greenie”: no. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR.
- fiscal conservative: not by my definition!
- pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built streets to early 20th century standards.
- pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on residents
- pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city government in Wasilla’s history.
- pro-labor/pro-union. No. Just because her husband works union doesn’t make her pro-labor. I have seen nothing to support any claim that she is pro-labor/pro-union.
WHY AM I WRITING THIS?
First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting programs in the schools. If you google my name (Anne Kilkenny + Alaska), you will find references to my participation in local government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.
Secondly, I’ve always operated in the belief that “Bad things happen when good people stay silent”. Few people know as much as I do because few have gone to as many City Council meetings.
Third, I am just a housewife. I don’t have a job she can bump me out of. I don’t belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will cost me somehow in the future: that’s life.
Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100 or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah’s attempt at censorship.
Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.
I am not a statistician. I developed the numbers for the increase in spending & taxation 2 years ago (when Palin was running for Governor) from information supplied to me by the Finance Director of the City of Wasilla, and I can’t recall exactly what I adjusted for: did I adjust for inflation? for population increases? Right now, it is impossible for a private person to get any info out of City Hall-they are swamped. So I can’t verify my numbers.
You may have noticed that there are various numbers circulating for the population of Wasilla, ranging from my “about 5,000″, up to 9,000. The day Palin’s selection was announced a city official told me that the current population is about 7,000. The official 2000 census count was 5,460. I have used about 5,000 because Palin was Mayor from 1996 to 2002, and the city was growing rapidly in the mid-90’s.
According to an article by Rena Delbridge published in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on September 17, 2008, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s that she is in charge of 20% of the US energy supply and that Alaska supplies that 20%. However, careful investigation by the nonpartisan fact-check group FactCheck.org has found this to be an extreme exaggeration on the part of Palin and GOP Presidential candidate Senator John McCain. Alaska was actually responsible for 3.5% of domestic energy production and only 2.4% of total energy consumed during 2007 in the United States. ~ Sarah Palin Truth Squad
A nonpartisan fact-checking organization says Gov. Sarah Palin is “not even close” to the truth in her claims that Alaska supplies 20 percent of the country’s energy.
FactCheck.org said Sen. John McCain also is wrong when he touts Palin as being in charge of 20 percent of America’s energy supply.
Both candidates issued the claims in interviews with ABC’s Charles Gibson. Palin also made the claim at a campaign event Monday in Golden, Colo.
Palin was interviewed several times during two days last week in Alaska by Gibson. According to the transcript on ABC’s Web site, http://www.abc.com, Palin said, “Let me speak specifically about a credential that I do bring to this table, Charlie, and that’s with the energy independence that I’ve been working on for these years as the governor of this state that produces nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy.”
Hold it right there, FactCheck.org says. Twenty percent?
“If you’re going to be an energy expert – if that’s going to be your credential for being vice president of the United States – you should at least be able to get the numbers straight,” said Brooks Jackson, director of FactCheck.org.
For 2007, Alaska is credited with 14 percent of U.S. domestic oil production, or 263.6 million barrels, according to the federal Energy Information Administration. However, Alaska accounts for only 5 percent of U.S. oil supplies, which come from foreign and domestic sources. But, Palin failed to qualify the stats as oil-only production. Alaska was responsible for 3.5 percent of domestic energy production and only 2.4 percent of total energy consumed in the U.S.
“Either way, whether she meant total energy production or total energy consumption, she was off by a full order of magnitude,” Jackson said. “I’m sure it was true once, that Alaska produced 20 percent of the oil produced in the U.S., but certainly not 20 percent of the oil consumed in the U.S.”
In a Sept. 3 interview with Gibson, McCain, talking about his running mate, said: “This is a very dynamic person. (Palin has) been governor of our largest state, in charge of 20 percent of America’s energy supply.”