Tag Archives: Mat-Su Valley

Sarah Palin Pastor’s Re-Education Scheme “May Seem Like Totalitarianism”

While Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has recently raised the specter of totalitarian government by warning about “death panels” she claims are part of the Obama administration’s health care plan, Palin herself has ties to a prominent Christian pastor who publicly advocates the establishment of a government regime that, in his own words, “may seem like totalitarianism” and would re-educate citizens in ‘correct’ decision making — an approach reminiscent of re-education campaigns during the violence-wracked Chinese communist Cultural Revolution.

Last March, Sarah Palin enjoyed an extended telephone consultation and pep talk with Morningstar Ministries founder and head Rick Joyner, who has contacts among Republicans in Congress and whose ministry is closely tied to Palin’s most important Alaskan church, the Wasilla Assembly of God.

Even some of Sarah Palin’s most dedicated fans might be taken aback by Joyner’s enthusiastic advocacy for an authoritarian religious state. In a “prophecy” published June 19, 2007, Rick Joyner wrote, “The kingdom of God will not be socialism, but a freedom even greater than anyone on earth knows at this time. At first it may seem like totalitarianism … Instead of taking away liberties and becoming more domineering, the kingdom will move from a point of necessary control while people are learning truth, integrity, honor, and how to make decisions, to increasing liberty so that they can.”

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Sarah Palin’s Real Estate Impropriety (Video)

By popular demand, I am reposting this story about Mayor Sarah Palin eliminating building permits before her personal home AND the Wasilla Sports Complex were constructed in Wasilla, Alaska.  The post originally appeared on the Sarah Palin Truth Squad back in October 14, 2008.

The original title was The Book of Sarah (Palin): Contractors Awarded Wasilla Sports Complex Contract Built New Palin Family Home.”

Although this is old news, it’s good to remember the personal ethics of Sarah Palin as she moves forward into her latest career.

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Sarah Palin winking to the cameras.

Sarah Palin winking to the cameras.

Wayne Barrett, investigative journalist and senior editor for the Village Voice, published a brilliantly illuminating exposé on Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and the building of her new Wasilla family home by the same contractors awarded the contract to build the new, multi-million dollar Wasilla sports complex. Also, throughout Sarah Palin’s political career, she has worked closely with lobbyists, promoting the interests of big business and oil corporations. Barrett was interviewed by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann on Countdown as to the possible conflicts of interest these connections might have posed for Gov. Palin.

Along with the winks and folksy “doggone” moments early in her debate with Joe Biden last week, Sarah Palin repeated her familiar claim to the title of “maverick,” declaring that “as a governor and as a mayor,” she’s had a “track record of reform” and has now “joined a team of mavericks.”

Despite the free fall that her polling numbers went into after her disastrous interviews with Katie Couric, that branding as a “reformer” has been resilient. Introduced skillfully before tens of millions during an intense surge of interest six weeks ago, it’s been hammered home with repeated soundbites.

But the label doesn’t hold up under close scrutiny. From the controversy that catapulted her to the governorship, to her ties to the indicted patriarch of Alaska’s GOP, to the multilayered nexus of lobbyists and Big Oil interests around her, and, finally, to the Wasilla sports complex that capped her mayoral career, the myth of Sarah Palin, reformer, withers under inspection.

Wasilla, Alaska Sports Complex

Wasilla, Alaska Sports Complex

PALIN’S CLAIM to fame as an Alaska reformer-that she risked her career to expose the chairman of the state GOP-is revisionist. In fact, Palin supported the methane-drilling project that helped sink GOP boss Randy Ruedrich before she later decided she was against it-a mirror of her flip-flop on the infamous Bridge to Nowhere. And her reversal had more to do with seizing a political opportunity than following her conscience.

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What’s Ahead For Gov. Palin? Seven Challenges

Gov. Sarah Palin, back from the campaign trail, faces a changed landscape in Alaska.

Gov. Sarah Palin, back from the campaign trail, faces a changed landscape in Alaska.

It appears that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will probably be back on the national scene in two years campaigning as the Republican candidate in the 2012 presidential election.  We here at the Sarah Palin Truth Squad have decided to continue posting information about Governor Palin in anticipation of that race.  Today the Anchorage Daily News published the following article by Tom Kizzia on the political future of Gov. Palin.

For two months she basked — and sizzled — in the world’s hottest celebrity spotlight. Now Sarah Palin has come home to begin the last two years of her term as governor of Alaska.

Everything has changed: Palin’s personal horizon, her relations with the state’s other elected officials, the public’s sense of who she is.

Palin returned to her office Friday amid a brutal crossfire between detractors and defenders in the McCain camp. At the same time, however, a new national poll said 64 percent of Republicans consider her their top choice to run for president in 2012.

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Barracuda Sarah: Palin’s Resentments of the Educated Started in Wasilla

Wasilla, Alaska Mayor Sarah Palin

Wasilla, Alaska Mayor Sarah Palin

The New Republic published an excellent, insightful expose by senior editor Noam Scheiber on Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s apparent disdain for those she perceives as educated “elites,” starting with her upbringing in Wasilla, Alaska and continuing throughout her political career as she exacted ‘punishment’ on adversaries for her own personal agendas and vendettas.

It’s unlikely the name Sarah Palin would mean much to anyone if not for a man named Nick Carney. Long before she stood up to Republican cronies and “the good old boys” of Alaska, Palin stood up to Carney, a colleague on Wasilla’s city council. As Kaylene Johnson explains in her sympathetic biography, Sarah, Carney had the gall to propose an ordinance giving his own company the city contract for garbage removal. In Johnson’s telling, it was the first time Palin bravely spoke truth to power: “‘I said no and I voted no,’ Sarah said. ‘People should have the choice about whether or not to haul their garbage to the dump.'” Johnson writes that Palin’s vote made Carney into a “political enemy”–the first of many, it turns out.

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The Book of Sarah (Palin): Contractors Awarded Wasilla Sports Complex Contract Built New Palin Family Home?!?! (Video)

Sarah Palin winking to the cameras.

Sarah Palin winking to the cameras.

Wayne Barrett, investigative journalist and senior editor for the Village Voice, published a brilliantly illuminating exposé on Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and the building of her new Wasilla family home by the same contractors awarded the contract to build the new, multi-million dollar Wasilla sports complex.  Also, throughout Sarah Palin’s political career, she has worked closely with lobbyists, promoting the interests of big business and oil corporations.  Barrett was interviewed by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann on Countdown as to the possible conflicts of interest these connections might have posed for Gov. Palin.

Along with the winks and folksy “doggone” moments early in her debate with Joe Biden last week, Sarah Palin repeated her familiar claim to the title of “maverick,” declaring that “as a governor and as a mayor,” she’s had a “track record of reform” and has now “joined a team of mavericks.”

Despite the free fall that her polling numbers went into after her disastrous interviews with Katie Couric, that branding as a “reformer” has been resilient. Introduced skillfully before tens of millions during an intense surge of interest six weeks ago, it’s been hammered home with repeated soundbites.

But the label doesn’t hold up under close scrutiny. From the controversy that catapulted her to the governorship, to her ties to the indicted patriarch of Alaska’s GOP, to the multilayered nexus of lobbyists and Big Oil interests around her, and, finally, to the Wasilla sports complex that capped her mayoral career, the myth of Sarah Palin, reformer, withers under inspection.

Wasilla, Alaska Sports Complex

Wasilla, Alaska Sports Complex

PALIN’S CLAIM to fame as an Alaska reformer-that she risked her career to expose the chairman of the state GOP-is revisionist. In fact, Palin supported the methane-drilling project that helped sink GOP boss Randy Ruedrich before she later decided she was against it-a mirror of her flip-flop on the infamous Bridge to Nowhere. And her reversal had more to do with seizing a political opportunity than following her conscience.

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Sarah Palin: The View from Alaska – Amid Troopergate and Other Government Scandals, including Killing Wolf Pups, the Palin Phenomenon Rings Hollow in Alaska

The beauty of nature ... an aurora display near Fairbanks, Alaska

Amid “Troopergate” and other government scandals, including killing wolf pups, Alaskan writer Nick Jans explains why the Palin phenomenon rings hollow in his home state.

I sat on the bank of the Kobuk River in northwest arctic Alaska on a mid-September morning. Upstream somewhere, wolves were howling – their chorus filling the silence, close enough that I could hear the aspiration at the end of each wavering call. Behind me, the slate-gray heave of the Brooks Range spilled off toward the north, the shapes of some peaks so familiar I’ve seen them in my sleep. The nearest highway lay 250 miles away. This is the Alaska where I spent half my life, and the only place that’s ever felt like home – the land of Eskimo villages, waves of migrating caribou and seemingly limitless space.

Though I was beyond the reach of the Internet and cellphones, and life was filled with rutting bull moose, incandescent autumn light and fresh grizzly tracks, I knew that thousands of miles to the south, the rest of the country was getting a crash course on our governor, Sarah Palin – someone who believes that climate change isn’t our fault; is dead set against a woman’s right to choose; has supported creationism in the schools; and was prayed over by a visiting minister at her church to shield her against witchcraft.

How was I to explain to all my lower 48 friends and writing colleagues how such a person could have been elected to lead our state – let alone been chosen to possibly become vice-president? Truth be told, I was as startled as anyone when I heard the news. At first I thought the McCain campaign’s announcement was some sort of bad joke.

In the broadest sense, Palin is a poseur. Alaska is too large and culturally diverse (it’s only a bit smaller than the entire lower 48 east of the Mississippi, and once was divided into four time zones) to be summed up by some abstract, romanticized notion. And even if it could be, it sure wouldn’t be symbolized by Palin. “The typical Alaskan? She couldn’t be farther from it,” says Alaska House Minority Leader Beth Kertulla.

Still, Palin is a genuine Alaskan – of a kind. The kind that flowed north in the wake of the ’70s oil boom, Bible Belt politics and attitudes under arm, and transformed this state from a free-thinking, independent bastion of genuine libertarianism and individuality into a reactionary fundamentalist enclave with dollar signs in its eyes and an all-for-me mentality.

Palin’s Alaska is embodied in Wasilla, a blue-collar, sharp-elbowed town of burgeoning big box stores, suburban subdivisions, evangelical pocket churches and car dealerships morphing across the landscape, outward from Anchorage, the state’s urban epicenter. She has lived in Wasilla practically all her life, and even now resides there, the first Alaska executive to eschew the white-pillared mansion in Juneau, down on the Southeast Panhandle.

Folks in the Mat-Su Valley, as the area is known, overwhelmingly support their favorite daughter’s policies – including a state-sanctioned program where private pilots chase down and kill wolves from small aircraft, and another that favors oil drilling offshore in the arctic sea ice and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. These same voters forage at McDonald’s and Safeway in their hunter camouflage, and make regular wilderness forays up and down the state’s limited highway grid with ATVs, snowmobiles and airboats in tow behind their oversize trucks. Sometimes I imagine I can hear the roar echoing across the state, all the way to the upper Kobuk, where easements for the highways of tomorrow are already staked out across the tundra.

Like many Alaskans, I resent Palin’s claims that she speaks for all of us, and cringe when she tosses off her stump speech line, “Well, up in Alaska, we….” Not only did I not vote for her, she represents the antithesis of the Alaska I love. As mayor, she helped shape Wasilla into the chaotic, poorly planned strip mall that it is; as governor, she’s promoted that same headlong drive toward development and despoilment on a grand scale, while paying lip service to her love of the place.

As for that frontierswoman shtick, take another look at that hairpiece-augmented beehive and those stiletto heels. Coming from a college-educated family, living in a half-million-dollar view home, basking in a net worth of $1.25 million, and having owned 40-some registered motorized vehicles in the past two decades (including 17 snowmobiles and a plane) hardly qualifies Palin and her clan as the quintessential Joe Six-Pack family unit – though the adulation from that quarter shows the Palins must be fulfilling some sort of role-model fantasy.

Palin can claim to know Alaska; the fact is, she’s seen only a minuscule fraction of it – and that doesn’t include Little Diomede Island, the one place in Alaska where you actually can see Russia. So she can ride an ATV and shoot guns. Set her down in the bush on her own and I bet we’d discover she’s about as adept at butchering a moose and building a fire at 40 below zero as she is at discussing Supreme Court decisions. And that mountain-woman act is only the tip of a hollow iceberg.

Palin, and by extension, the McCain campaign, has hijacked our state for political purposes, much to the chagrin of the tens of thousands of Alaskans who loathe what she stands for. Her much-touted popularity among residents has eroded over the past six weeks to somewhere in the mid-60s – not exactly what you’d expect in support of a home girl making a White House run.

There are no doubt a variety of reasons for this decline, but many Alaskans are embarrassed – not just by her, but for our state and for ourselves. What’s with the smug posturing, recently adopted fake Minnesota accent, and that gosh-darn-it hockey mom pitch? Maybe it plays well in Peoria (and presumably Duluth), but it’s all an act. “She’s definitely put on a new persona since she’s been a vice-presidential candidate,” says Kertulla, who has worked closely with Palin for the past 18 months. “I don’t even recognize her.”

Affectations aside, there’s plenty about Palin we Alaskans do recognize, and all too well. She’s already proven to us that her promises of transparent government, attendant to the will of the people, are bear pucky. We know about her private e-mail accounts and her systematic obstruction of the Alaska Legislature’s investigation of the so-called Troopergate scandal. But let’s turn to her environmental record, where a similar pattern of obfuscation continues.

Alaskan wolf pup outside of den.

Alaskan wolf pup outside of den.

First, Palin pushed hard, along with sport hunting and guiding interests, to help defeat a ballot initiative that would have stopped the state’s current aerial wolf control program, which had been criticized by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council for flawed science. Now her administration has pointedly refused to respond to repeated public information requests (I’m one of the petitioners, and a potential litigant), regarding the apparently illegal killing of 14 wolf pups at their dens on the Alaska Peninsula this spring by state personnel, including two high-level Department of Fish and Game administrators. A biologist at the scene admitted to an independent wolf scientist that the 6-week-old pups were held down and shot in the head, one by one. This inhumane practice, known as “denning,” has been illegal for 40 years. But a simple request for information on the details of this operation, including to what extent the governor was involved in the decision, has resulted in a typical Palinesque roadblock and a string of untruths.

Our I-love-Alaska governor was also instrumental in defeating a ballot initiative to stop development of a gargantuan open-pit mine incongruously known as Pebble near the headwaters of the most productive salmon watershed in the state, Bristol Bay. The current mine design calls for building the world’s largest earthen dam to hold back an enormous lake of toxic waste – this in a known earthquake zone. Crazy stuff, yet Palin openly opposed the initiative, in lock step with international mining corporations that invested millions of dollars in a misinformation campaign.

But Palin’s certified anti-environmental whopper is her lawsuit against the Bush administration (of all outfits) for listing polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. She claimed Alaska’s own experts had completed a review of the federal data and concluded that the listing was uncalled for. The truth was, state biologists had come to the opposite conclusion. But that report was never released, and her researchers had a gag clamped on them. Palin simply didn’t want anything to get in the way of offshore oil drilling in moving pack ice – where there is no way to contain, let alone clean up, catastrophic spills.

Whenever science or rules get in Palin’s way, she blows them off. Says homesteader Mark Richards, co-founder of the Alaska Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (a moderate conservation group), “Palin, like Governor Murkowski before her, is part and parcel of the good-ol-boy network that says, ‘Alaska is open for business.'”

Want to talk to Sarah? As governor, she has been accessible only on her carefully chosen terms, a trend we’re now witnessing on the national stage. And how about those Katie Couric moments when she drifts just a skosh off a well-rehearsed script? Are those a recent phenomenon, brought on by all this new information, pressure and the liberal-gotcha media? Nah. She’s been spouting “political gibberish” (to quote gubernatorial opponent Andrew Halcro) since she arrived on the Alaska scene. Yet somehow she continues to get away with it.

In the end, Palin’s attempt to cash in on the Eau d’Alaska mystique as she supports its destruction sickens those of us who do love this land, not for what it will be some day, after the roads and mines and pipelines and cities and malls are all in, but for what it is now. What we see before us is the soul of an ambitious, ruthless, Parks Highway hillbilly – a woman who represents the Alaska you probably never want to meet, and the one we wish never existed. That said, we’re all too willing to take her back. The alternative is just too damn frightening.

Writer and photographer Nick Jans has lived in Alaska for 30 years. He is the author of “The Grizzly Maze: Timothy Treadwell’s Fatal Obsession with Alaskan Bears,” a member of USA Today’s board of editorial contributors and a contributing editor of Alaska Magazine.

Sarah Palin: The View from Alaska

Meet Sarah Palin’s Radical Right-Wing Pals – Extremists Mark Chryson and Steve Stoll

Gov. Sarah Palin in North Olmsted, OhioWe 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.”

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