Tag Archives: Sen. Ted Stevens

Palin Returns to a Changed Alaska

Homecoming Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, her office adorned with banners and balloons, went to work in Anchorage Nov. 7 for the first time since joining the GOP presidential ticket.

Homecoming Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, her office adorned with banners and balloons, went to work in Anchorage Nov. 7 for the first time since joining the GOP presidential ticket.

Alaska has changed while Governor Sarah Palin was gone on the presidential campaign trail over the past two months.  The state’s oil driven economy has been hurt by the global financial meltdown and many Alaskans have gotten to know another, darker side of their governor, in stark contrast to the “maverick” hockey mom turned politican who took on the “good old boys” and big oil companies.  The Christian Science Monitor presents an in-depth look at the new political landscape Gov. Palin now faces in Alaska.

When she left Alaska in August to run as the Republican vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin was a much-loved governor with approval ratings near 90 percent; a record for pursuing centrist, bipartisan policies; and a reputation as a corruption-fighter.

Her home state was awash in money, thanks to record oil prices, and residents were set to get big checks in the form of dividends from the Alaska Permanent Fund and a state tax rebate. The economic future seemed secure, with Governor Palin advancing the case for a big, new, natural-gas pipeline.

What a difference a couple of months make.

Upon her return to Alaska Nov. 5, Palin’s nonpartisan reputation is in shreds, a side effect of her role as chief attacker of Democratic rival Barack Obama. Damaged, too, is her image as ethics reformer, with questions lingering over an abuse-of-power scandal involving a feud against her sister’s ex-husband, alleged circumvention of public-records laws, concerns about state payments for her children’s travel and nights spent in her own home, and even how she acquired the haute-couture wardrobe she sported on the campaign trail.

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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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Mean Girl: Sarah Palin Has a Way of Using “Old Boys” — Then Dumping Them When They Become Inconvenient.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in Detroit Sept. 5, 2008.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in Detroit Sept. 5, 2008.

Remember the beautiful, yet back-stabbing, bitchy girls in high school who were always able to twist the guys around their little finger and get whatever they wanted?  As more is revealed of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s character throughout her political career in Alaska, there seems to be too many parallels to those girls we all hoped to never deal with again after high school graduation.  In an excellent piece by Salon.com founder David Talbot published September 23, 2008, Gov. Sarah Palin’s behavior towards male political mentors and claims to shaking up the “old boys” network are turned upside down, leaving us all wondering, do we really want to go back to high school?

Before Sarah Palin decided to run for the Wasilla mayor’s office in 1996 against incumbent John Stein, the Palins and Steins were friends. John Stein had helped launch Palin’s political career, mentoring the hockey mom during her 1994 run for City Council, along with veteran council member Nick Carney. Stein’s wife, Karen Marie, went to aerobics classes with Palin.

But when she announced her candidacy for Stein’s seat, vowing to overturn the city’s “old boy” establishment, a different Sarah Palin emerged. “Things got very ugly,” recalled Naomi Tigner, a friend of the Steins. “Sarah became very mean-spirited.”

The Wasilla mayor’s seat is nonpartisan, and Mayor Stein, a former city planner who had held the post for nine years, ran a businesslike campaign that stressed his experience and competency. But Palin ignited the traditionally low-key race with scorching social issues, injecting “God, guns and abortion into the race — things that had nothing to do with being mayor of a small town,” according to Tigner.

Palin’s mayoral campaign rode the wave of conservative, evangelical fervor that was sweeping Alaska in the ’90s. Suddenly candidates’ social values, not their ability to manage the roads and sewer systems, were dominating the debate. “Sarah and I were both Republicans, but this was an entirely new slant to local politics — much more aggressive than anything I’d ever seen,” said Stein, looking back at the election that put Palin on the political map.

There was a knife-sharp, personal edge to Palin’s campaign that many locals found disturbing, particularly because of the warm relationship between Palin and Stein before the race.

“I called Sarah’s campaign for mayor the end of the age of innocence in Wasilla,” said Carney.

Even though Palin knew that Stein is a Protestant Christian, from a Pennsylvania Dutch background, her campaign began circulating the word that she would be “Wasilla’s first Christian mayor.” Some of Stein’s supporters interpreted this as an attempt to portray Stein as Jewish in the heavily evangelical community. Stein himself, an eminently reasonable and reflective man, thinks “they were redefining Christianity to mean born-agains.”

The Palin campaign also started another vicious whisper campaign, spreading the word that Stein and his wife — who had chosen to keep her own last name when they were married — were not legally wed. Again, Palin knew the truth, Stein said, but chose to muddy the waters. “We actually had to produce our marriage certificate,” recalled Stein, whose wife died of breast cancer in 2005 without ever reconciling with Palin.

“I had a hand in creating Sarah, but in the end she blew me out of the water,” Stein said, sounding more wearily ironic than bitter. “Sarah’s on a mission, she’s an opportunist.”

According to some political observers in Alaska, this pattern — exploiting “old-boy” mentors and then turning against them for her own advantage — defines Sarah Palin’s rise to power. Again and again, Palin has charmed powerful political patrons, and then rejected them when it suited her purposes. She has crafted a public image as a clean politics reformer, but in truth, she has only blown the whistle on political corruption when it was expedient for her to do so. Above all, Palin is a dynamo of ambition, shrewdly maneuvering her way through the notoriously compromised world of Alaska politics, making and breaking alliances along the way.

With its frontier political infrastructure and its geyser of oil money, Alaska has become as notorious as a third-world petro-kingdom. In recent years, scandal has seeped throughout the state’s political circles — and at the center of this widening spill is Alaska’s powerful patronage king, Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, and wealthy oil contractor Bill Allen.

Despite Palin’s reform reputation, she has maintained a delicate relationship with Stevens over the years — courting his endorsement for governor, then distancing herself after his 2007 federal indictment on corruption charges, and then cozying up again when it appeared he might survive politically. As for Allen — the former oil roughneck whose North Slope wealth has greased many a palm in Alaska — Palin found nothing wrong with his money when she ran for lieutenant governor in 2002.

Palin’s reputation as a reformer stems primarily from her headline-grabbing ouster of state GOP chairman Randy Ruedrich from the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission for flagrant conflict-of-interest abuses. At the time, Palin was heralded in the press as a whistle-blower, but it was later revealed that she was guilty of the same charge that she had brought against Ruedrich — using state office equipment for partisan political business. (While still mayor of Wasilla, she sent out campaign fundraising appeals from her office during her race for lieutenant governor.)

Others suspect that Palin had self-serving reasons for taking on Ruedrich and resigning her seat on the commission. The state energy panel had ignited a public firestorm in Palin’s home base, Mat-Su Valley, by secretly leasing sub-surface drilling rights on thousands of residential lots to a Colorado-based gas producer. Outraged farmers and homeowners, who woke up one morning to find drilling equipment being hauled onto their land, were in open revolt against the commission. While Palin initially supported the leasing plan, she was shrewd enough to realize it was political suicide to alienate conservative property owners in her own district. According to some accounts, she was also growing tired of commuting to state offices in Anchorage and poring over dry, tedious technical manuals for her job. All in all, it seemed like the right move to jump ship — and going out a hero was an added plus.

In the end, Ruedrich admitted wrongdoing and settled the ethics case by paying $12,000 in civil fines. But Palin did not drive the well-connected Republican operative into exile. In fact, he remains the party’s state chairman and he could be seen on the floor of the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn., hugging the newly crowned vice-presidential candidate and cheering her feisty speech against greedy old boys like, well, him.

“The idea that Sarah shook up the state’s old-boy network is one big fantasy, it’s complete bullshit,” Andrew Halcro said. “She got all this public acclaim for throwing people who backed her under the bus — but she only did it after they became expendable, when she no longer needed them.

“The good old boys in Alaska are still the good old boys — they’re alive and kicking. Randy is still running the Republican Party — he wasn’t happy about being turned into a national poster boy for corruption, but he went along with the program. Ted Stevens is still running for reelection. And [scandal-tainted Alaska Rep.] Don Young is, too. So where’s the new era of change that Palin supposedly brought to Alaska?”

Mean Girl: Sarah Palin Has a Way of Using “Old Boys” — Then Dumping Them When They Become Inconvenient.

Palin’s Small Alaska Town Secured Big Federal Funds

Washington Post staff writer Paul Kane, in an article published on September 2, 2008, examines the nearly $27 million in federal earmarks obtained by then Wasilla, Alaska Mayor Sarah Palin through the lobbying firm of Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh she employed during her administration.  As mayor of Wasilla, a small town with a population of only 6,700, Palin aggressively sought federal funds.  Details as to the disbursement of federal funds are enumerated, along with Wasilla and Sarah Palin’s connections to special interests in Washington, D.C.  ~ Sarah Palin Truth Squad

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin employed a lobbying firm to secure almost $27 million in federal earmarks for a town of 6,700 residents while she was its mayor, according to an analysis by an independent government watchdog group.

There was $500,000 for a youth shelter, $1.9 million for a transportation hub, $900,000 for sewer repairs, and $15 million for a rail project — all intended to benefit Palin’s town, Wasilla, located about 45 miles north of Anchorage.

In introducing Palin as his running mate on Friday, Sen. John McCain cast her as a compatriot in his battle against wasteful federal spending. McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, hailed Palin as a politician “with an outstanding reputation for standing up to special interests and entrenched bureaucracies — someone who has fought against corruption and the failed policies of the past, someone who’s stopped government from wasting taxpayers’ money.”

McCain’s crusade against earmarks — federal spending sought by members of Congress to benefit specific projects — has been a hallmark of his campaign. He has said earmarks are wasteful and are often inserted into bills with little oversight, sometimes by a single powerful lawmaker.

Palin has also railed against earmarks, touting her opposition to a $223 million bridge in the state as a prime credential for the vice presidential nomination. “As governor, I’ve stood up to the old politics-as-usual, to the special interests, to the lobbyists, the big oil companies, and the good-ol’-boy network,” she said Friday.

As mayor of Wasilla, however, Palin oversaw the hiring of Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh, an Anchorage-based law firm with close ties to Alaska’s most senior Republicans: Rep. Don Young and Sen. Ted Stevens,  who was indicted in July on charges of accepting illegal gifts. The Wasilla account was handled by the former chief of staff to Stevens, Steven W. Silver, who is a partner in the firm.

Palin was elected mayor of Wasilla in 1996 on a campaign theme of “a time for change.” According to a review of congressional spending by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog group in Washington, Wasilla did not receive any federal earmarks in the first few years of Palin’s tenure.

Senate records show that Silver’s firm began working for Palin in early 2000, just as federal money began flowing.

In fiscal 2000, Wasilla received a $1 million earmark, tucked into a transportation appropriations bill, for a rail and bus project in the town. And in the winter of 2000, Palin appeared before congressional appropriations committees to seek earmarks, according to a report in the Anchorage Daily News.

Palin and the Wasilla City Council increased Silver’s fee from $24,000 to $36,000 a year by 2001, Senate records show.

Soon after, the city benefited from additional earmarks: $500,000 for a mental health center, $500,000 for the purchase of federal land and $450,000 to rehabilitate an agricultural processing facility. Then there was the $15 million rail project, intended to connect Wasilla with the town of Girdwood, where Stevens has a house.

The Washington trip is now an annual event for Wasilla officials.

In fiscal year 2002, Wasilla took in $6.1 million in earmarks — about $1,000 in federal money for every resident. By contrast, Boise, Idaho — which has more than 190,000 residents — received $6.9 million in earmarks in fiscal 2008.

All told, Wasilla benefited from $26.9 million in earmarks in Palin’s final four years in office.

“She certainly wasn’t shy about putting the old-boy network to use to bring home millions of dollars,” said Steven Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. “She’s a little more savvy to the ways of Washington than she’s let on.”

Palin’s Small Alaska Town Secured Big Federal Funds

Small town of Wasilla, Alaska

Small town of Wasilla, Alaska, which received $26.9 in federal earmarks while Governor Sarah Palin was Mayor of Wasilla.