Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"Palin Truth Squad'

by Rebecca Palsha
Monday, September 29, 2008

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- After disappearing off the radar for a few days, the so-called "Palin Truth Squad' was back in action Monday, claiming there is more proof the Legislature's investigation into the Walt Monegan firing is political.

The McCain-Palin campaign said this past weekend's anti-Palin protest downtown is proof that the investigation is political.

"If there was any doubt that politics is at the heart of the Legislative Council's inquiry into Walt Monegan's replacement, that doubt was dispelled by the Obama rally held Saturday," said Meghan Stapleton of the "Truth Squad."

Hundreds of people, mad at Palin and demanding answers from the filled the Park Strip Saturday, some sporting signs that irked the McCain-Palin campaign.

"This investigation is no longer the unbiased inquiry at arms length from politics that Alaskans were promised," Stapleton said. "This is political theater intended to score points for the campaign of Barack Obama."

Democratic state Sen. Bill Willowkowski disputes that.

"There is no partisanship in this investigation," he said. "I know they want to try to get you to believe that, but that is simply not the case."

The "Truth Squad" also took aim at Rep. Les Gara, who last week asked the state troopers to investigate witness tampering.

"Rep. Gara's actions stink of police-state tactics and should be condemned by any one who supports the Constitutional right of free speech," Stapleton said.

Gara replied: "Everyday they go after a new Democrat, but they never mention all of the Republicans who support the investigation. It's sad, it's a fake pitch. What they've done is they've engaged in personal attacks against Walt Monegan, Steve Branchflower, the list goes on.

"I guess today it's my turn."

In related news, two of the Troopergate lawsuits merged Monday. One was filed by five Republican lawmakers, the other by Attorney General Talis Colberg.

Both are an attempt to get rid of the Legislative investigation.

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THE ARROGANCE of the Palin administration

Palin's people
call Monegan 'rogue'
to cover her tracks

Former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, summarily sacked by an underling of Gov. Sarah Palin, has been the target of some of the most vicious personal attacks in recent memory. The administration, and its new master, the McCain-Palin campaign, has targeted him for lie after lie. They even have stooped to calling him a “rogue.”

Monegan was fired after Palin tried to force him to dump her former brother-in-law from the Alaska State Troopers. She at first denied any pressure was applied, but when a tape recording proved otherwise, she changed her story.

The governor at first said she would cooperate with a legislative investigation of Monegan’s firing, but now is dodging that probe. She instead has tapped a state board she controls to open an investigation of her actions. It should be completed sometime after the Nov. 4 election, if ever. Convenient.

Since that time, her administration and the McCain-Palin ticket that now speaks for the government of Alaska have accused Monegan of going behind the governor’s back to get federal earmarks, being insubordinate and making unauthorized trips to Washington, D.C.

Now, Monegan is surrendering e-mails that present quite a different picture. Not yet released, they may suggest any lack of communications may be the administration’s problem, not his.

Then comes this: This weekend, in the midst of the unending attacks on Monegan, a spokesman for Palin actually had the chutzpah to tell KTUU-Channel 2 that the former commissioner is acting inappropriately. That’s right. Inappropriately.

"The deal is you serve at the pleasure of the governor, and when the governor is no longer pleased, you leave and you're supposed to walk away quietly," Bill McAllister told Channel 2 in a phone interview.

Quietly? And put up with baseless personal attacks? In similar circumstances, you may not do so; neither would we, but Monegan is a gentleman, and he did — until the Palin administration, trying to cover its tracks, began a campaign of personal destruction against him. Now, he is forced to defend himself and the truth.

Add that to the now-famous toe-the-line demand this administration tries to impose and you begin to get quite a picture.

So much for open and transparent. So much for honest dealings. So much for decency.

What next?

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Sarah Palin to be withdrawn as Republican VP nominee

alt="Price for Sarah Palin to be withdrawn as Republican VP nominee/candidate at intrade.com"
title="Price for Sarah Palin to be withdrawn as Republican VP nominee/candidate at intrade.com" border="0">

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Palin should step down - for our country

Kathleen Parker: Palin should step down - for our country
Article Launched: 09/26/2008 06:21:45 PM PDT

IF at one time women were considered heretical for swimming upstream against feminist orthodoxy, they now face condemnation for swimming downstream - away from Sarah Palin.

To express reservations about her qualifications to be vice president - and possibly president - is to risk being labeled anti-woman.

Or, as I am guilty of charging her early critics, supporting only a certain kind of woman.

Some of the passionately feminist critics of Palin who attacked her personally deserved some of the backlash they received. But circumstances have changed since Palin was introduced as just a hockey mom with lipstick - what a difference a financial crisis makes - and a more complicated picture has emerged.

As we've seen and heard more from John McCain's running mate, it is increasingly clear that Palin is a problem. Quick study or not, she doesn't know enough about economics and foreign policy to make Americans comfortable with a President Palin should conditions warrant her promotion.

Yes, she recently met and turned several heads of state as the United Nations General Assembly convened in New York. She was gracious, charming and disarming. Men swooned. Pakistan's president wanted to hug her. (Perhaps Osama bin Laden is dying to meet her?)

And, yes, she has common sense, something we value. And she's had executive experience as a mayor and a governor, though of relatively small constituencies (about 6,000 and 680,000, respectively).

Finally, Palin's narrative is fun, inspiring and all-American in that frontier way we seem to admire. When Palin first emerged as John McCain's running mate, I confess I was delighted. She was the antithesis and nemesis of the hirsute, Birkenstock-wearing sisterhood - a refreshing feminist of a different order who personified the modern successful working mother.

Palin didn't make a mess cracking the glass ceiling. She simply glided through it.

It was fun while it lasted.

Palin's recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.

Read More

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Hold Sarah Palin Accountable

I can't help but to be saddened to see a American hero like Senator John McCain dragged through the mud for making a hasty political choice. This decision is the most telling to me. It showed that he is willing to gamble with America's future, without blinking. That does not show forethought and reason in his first decision made. I truly believe he would have won and brought many together with anyone else. He chose Palin and gained what? Senator Mccain needs Palin to withdraw

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Palin's staff defy subpoenas for their testimony into her abuse of power case

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Seven of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's top aides defied subpoenas for their testimony Friday into possible abuse of power by the governor.

Palin's Chief of Staff Mike Nizich and six other aides failed to appear at a legislative hearing into whether Palin abused her power when she fired her public safety commissioner this summer.

Alaska Senate Judiciary Chairman Hollis French, D-Anchorage, waited 30 minutes Friday before reading a statement that the witnesses could be found in contempt when the full Legislature convenes in January.

Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg filed a lawsuit on behalf of the seven state workers Thursday challenging the subpoenas. He claims the committee has no jurisdiction to issue subpoenas in the investigation.

Colberg planned a news conference later Friday.

Palin fired Walt Monegan, the public safety commissioner, in July. He claims he was fired for refusing to fire a state trooper who had gone through a nasty divorce with Palin's sister.

He claims he was pressured by Palin, her husband and members of her staff to fire the trooper.

Palin denies the charge, and says he was dismissed over budget disagreements.

The Legislative Council, in a unanimous bipartisan vote, ordered an investigation into Monegan's firing, and Palin agreed to cooperate — until she was named John McCain's running mate.

Since then, Palin — through the McCain campaign — has accused lawmakers of manipulating the probe to be potentially damaging ahead of the November election.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Why McCain just can't tell the truth.

About a week after John McCain's campaign unveiled a vice-presidential nominee who incessantly boasted about her decision to turn down federal funding for a notoriously pointless bridge ("I told Congress 'thanks, but no thanks' on that Bridge to Nowhere"), the press corps began to notice that Sarah Palin had, in fact, vigorously championed the project until it was no longer tenable. Political fibs, even brazen ones such as this, are hardly unprecedented. What happened next, though, was somewhat unusual. Despite having its claim exposed in nearly every media outlet, the McCain campaign continued to assert it anyway, day after day, dozens of times in all. It was as if Bill Clinton had persisted in his claim that he did not have sexual relations with that woman even after the appearance of the semen-stained dress.

But what happened after that was even more unusual, and possibly without precedent: McCain's supporters simply suggested that the truth or falsity of their statements didn't matter. McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said this to Politico about the increased media scrutiny of the campaign's factual claims: "We're running a campaign to win. And we're not too concerned about what the media filter tries to say about it." Republican strategist John Feehery made the point even more bluntly, telling The Washington Post: "The more The New York Times and The Washington Post go after Sarah Palin, the better off she is, because there's a bigger truth out there, and the bigger truths are: She's new, she's popular in Alaska, and she is an insurgent." Then, he added, "As long as those are out there, these little facts don't really matter."

Here we have the distilled essence of the McCain campaign's ethos: Perception is reality. Facts don't matter. McCain has presented himself as the grizzled champion of timeworn values. But the defining trait of his candidacy turns out to be a postmodern disdain for truth. How could McCain--a man widely regarded, not so long ago, as one of the country's most honor-bound politicians, and therefore an unusually honest one--have descended to this ignominious low? Part of the answer is that McCain is simply doing what works--and there is good reason to believe that his campaign's strategy of persistent dishonesty will pay dividends come November 4. But part of the explanation for all this recent dishonesty may lie, oddly enough, in McCain's legendary sense of honor.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Probe turns to workers' compensation claim

by Jason Moore
Monday, September 22, 2008

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The investigation into Gov. Sarah Palin's firing of Walt Monegan is looking into whether Palin influenced a workers' compensation claim from her former brother in-law.

Alaska State Trooper Mike Wooten had his benefits denied three months after an injury forced him out of work. It became part of the probe after the adjuster who handled Wooten's case tipped off the Legislature's investigator.

Back in January of 2007, at a car accident scene, Wooten slipped and injured his back. He applied for and received workers' compensation.

But in April, the state ended the benefits.

"(They) said that he was not entitled to any further benefits at that time, because their doctor said he could go back to unrestricted work," said Wooten's attorney, Chancy Croft. "His doctor was still telling him, 'No, you can't.'"

The form announcing the denial of benefits was signed by Johanna Grasso of Harbor Adjustment Service, which handles the state workers' comp claims.

Grasso is also the person who testified to the Legislature's investigator, Stephen Branchflower, that she was told by the owner of the company that the governor or governor's office wanted Wooten's claim denied.

The governor's spokesman, Bill McAllister, said Wooten's workers' compensation file is confidential, but if it wasn't they could show how Grasso is not telling the truth.

"We can show you the whole chronology including documents with the name of this employee, former employee, of the firm who apparently gave some sort of a statement to Mr. Branchflower indicating that her recollection of events is false," McAllister said.

"The person is a governor, not the queen," Croft said. "She can't go around dispensing out workers' compensation."

Croft said he knows of no interference by the governor's office in Wooten's case.

"This was a pretty normal workers' compensation case," he said.

Wooten returned to light duty shortly after his benefits were denied, and full duty in December of last year.

Meanwhile, the state Personnel Board has also hired an investigator to look into the issue, after Palin filed a complaint against herself and said that was the proper body to do the investigation.

The board hired Anchorage attorney Tim Petumenos, and while fighting the Legislature's inquiry, the McCain-Palin campaign says the governor will cooperate only with the Personnel Board investigation.

Read and Hear More

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Time for a GOP Panic?

By Robert Stacy McCain
Published 9/22/2008 12:08:46 AM

What a difference a week can make. Seven days ago, Democrats were in a state of political panic after Sarah Palin's selection as running mate had helped push John McCain ahead in the polls. Now it may be the Republicans' turn.

Relentless media criticism of Palin seems to have succeeded, at least temporarily, in turning Palin from an asset to a debit for the GOP ticket. Barack Obama's campaign has unleashed a heavy wave of attack ads. Most of all, daily headlines about the financial crisis have shaken voters' confidence in the economic status quo, increasing the appeal of Obama's theme of "Change."

As with the previous panic among Democrats, last week's Republican panic was driven by slumping poll numbers. McCain had boomed to a 5-point lead over Obama in the Gallup daily tracking poll released Sept. 8, and maintained that edge for three consecutive days.

The Palin pick and the post-convention bounce so enhanced the Republican Party's image that by Sept. 12, Gallup was reporting that the GOP had narrowed the gap on the so-called "generic" congressional ballot question -- where Democrats had enjoyed a 15-point advantage earlier this year -- to a slender three-point margin.

Even as these polls prompted one reporter to note a "growing sense of doom among Democrats," however, the Republican momentum was slipping away. On Wednesday, Gallup reported Obama had moved slightly ahead, and by Saturday, Gallup had the Democrat ahead by 6 points, 50-44 percent.

Other polls reported different numbers, but the overall trend was clear -- McCain, who had led nearly every survey taken Sept. 5-11, trailed in nearly every poll taken thereafter, resulting in a net 5-point shift toward Obama in the Real Clear Politics average.

WHAT HAPPENED? The timing of the McCain slump (or Obama surge, as the case may be) makes it difficult to distinguish the causes.

It was on Sept. 10 that ABC began airing the first network exclusive interview with Palin, with Charlie Gibson professorially peering over his glasses playing "stump the governor" by asking her about the Bush doctrine. Afterwards, at least according to a Research 2000 poll commissioned by the liberal DailyKos site, Palin's approval numbers took a nosedive, going from 52% positive to 41% positive in the space of eight days, while her negatives ratings rose from 35% to 46%.

However, it was during the same time frame that the slow-brewing financial crisis hit the meltdown stage. The takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was announced Sept. 6. Lehman Brothers stock began a death spiral Sept. 8. A week later came Black Monday, as stocks plummeted, Bank of America took over a collapsing Merrill Lynch, and the insurance giant AIG hit coffin corner.

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign unleashed a series of fierce attacks, including a TV ad that debuted Sept. 14 featuring headlines accusing McCain of "lies" and "deception."

If nothing else, those headlines accurately captured the overwhelmingly negative coverage the Republican has endured in recent weeks. As during the primary campaign -- when, as a Media Research Center analysis found, the major networks provided Obama's "margin of victory" over Hillary Clinton -- the media are clearly in the Illinois Democrat's corner.

Despite all the woes afflicting the GOP ticket in recent days, however, it may be too soon for Republicans to hit the panic button.

Granted, the dire economic situation could be expected to hurt Republicans, not only because of the two-term Republican in the White House, but also because the GOP is closely identified with big business in the minds of voters.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday papers-SEPTEMBER 21, 2008

From David Hulen in Anchorage --

> Alaskans angered that Palin is off-limits (Los Angeles Times)

...The sudden intrusion of a political campaign into so many corners of state government -- not to mention Wasilla, where a dozen or more campaign researchers and lawyers have also begun overseeing the release of any information about Palin's years as mayor -- has touched a raw nerve. McCain staffers have even been assigned to answer calls for Palin's family members, who have been instructed not to talk.

> Lawmakers: Politics 'hijacked' Alaska (Juneau Empire)

"The state of Alaska and the Alaska Attorney General's Office don't need any help from a national campaign," said Sen. President Lyda Green, R-Wasilla...

"National politics have absolutely hijacked the state government, it's really disturbing to see from the governor," said Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau.

> Pact on Debates Will Let McCain and Obama Spar (New York Times)

At the insistence of the McCain campaign, the Oct. 2 debate between the Republican nominee for vice president, Gov. Sarah Palin, and her Democratic rival, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., will have shorter question-and-answer segments than those for the presidential nominees, the advisers said. There will also be much less opportunity for free-wheeling, direct exchanges between the running mates.

McCain advisers said they had been concerned that a loose format could leave Ms. Palin, a relatively inexperienced debater, at a disadvantage and largely on the defensive.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

McCain campaign lays heavy influence on state politics

McCain-Palin campaign accused of co-opting Department of Law

And after the announcement, officials said Colberg hopped on a plane to Kansas for a vacation.

"It appears that the department is in complete disarray," said Sen. Bill Wielechowski. "It appears that the McCain campaign is co-opting our Department of Law and basically calling the shots and I think that's pretty clear from some of the actions we've seen over the past couple of days."

In a letter to Colberg Wednesday from Elton, Elton accuses Colberg of compromising the investigation.

"In four paragraphs, you've broken a deal that was accepted by your office and received by Mr.Branchflower after the Senate Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas," Elton writes. "Further your brand new position eviscerates weeks of comments on the record by several parties, including the governor."

Read More

By Corey Allen-Young, CBS 11 News Reporter
Article Last Updated: 09/19/2008 08:27:29 AM AKDT

With Governor Palin in the mix of the national presidential election, many want to know answers to issues right here in Alaska. But with reports of state inquiries being directed to the McCain political campaign, it seems the local media is getting the snub.
A team of McCain operatives has arrived in Anchorage where they have become the one source to answer questions about Alaska's governor and her administration. This was set up to for any media that was not permanently based here in Alaska.

The problem is locals aren't having any luck either. So how easy is it to get an answer or reply from key departments of our state and our governor?

In efforts to contact the office of the governor, the attorney general's office, and the department of administration, CBS reporters were given statements of no comment, e-mails referring to new spokespeople and no messages returned.

This is a noticeable contrast to the way the administration was run prior to Palin's VP nomination.

Now to get an answer about any state business, we are routinely referred to McCain campaign officials.

State lawmakers are beginning to express their own frustrations.

"We are seeing the executive branch of the state government wilt like old flowers when it comes to addressing what should be state business," said Representative Jay Ramras, a republican from Fairbanks.

"The McCain camp has come into the state and taken over essentially the state political system on this Troopergate investigation," said Representative Les Gara, a democrat from Anchorage.

Ramras and Gara both agree that any state business including the investigation of the governor should not be in the hands of outsiders.

"I am going to demand that john McCain stop obstructing justice in our state. Go do your campaign in the lower 48 that's fine but stop obstructing justice here," said Gara.

"The executive branch needs to reassert their propriety rights here and stand up for state rights and for the fact that the state of Alaska has business to conduct," said Ramras.

Many attempts have been made to contact state officials, but the only replies given were from the department of administration's commissioner Annette Kreitzer. However, Kreitzer would only refer inquiries to the governor's spokesperson Sharon Leighow.

Leighow has yet to have returned any phone calls.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Internal Investigation Turned This Up.......

An internal government document obtained by ABC News appears to contradict Sarah Palin's most recent explanation for why she fired her public safety chief, the move which prompted the now-contested state probe into "Troopergate."

An internal government document obtained by ABC News appears to contradict Sarah Palin's most recent explanation for why she fired her public safety chief Walt Monegan, the move which prompted the now-contested state probe into "Troopergate."
(ABC News Photo Illustration)Fighting back against allegations she may have fired her then-Public Safety Commissioner, Walt Monegan, for refusing to go along with a personal vendetta, Palin on Monday argued in a legal filing that she fired Monegan because he had a "rogue mentality" and was bucking her administration's directives.

"The last straw," her lawyer argued, came when he planned a trip to Washington, D.C., to seek federal funds for an aggressive anti-sexual-violence program. The project, expected to cost from $10 million to $20 million a year for five years, would have been the first of its kind in Alaska, which leads the nation in reported forcible rape.

The McCain-Palin campaign echoed the charge in a press release it distributed Monday, concurrent with Palin's legal filing. "Mr. Monegan persisted in planning to make the unauthorized lobbying trip to D.C.," the release stated.
Read More

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Empty Room as Predicted- Who's on the subpoenas list?

From Wesley Loy in Anchorage --

Here’s the status of subpoenas the Alaska Senate Judiciary Committee authorized on Sept. 12 in the Troopergate investigation:

• Frank Bailey, state boards and commissions director, now on paid leave: Provided copy of sworn statement he gave to Gov. Sarah Palin’s attorney to legislative investigator Steve Branchflower, satisfying his subpoena.

• Bailey’s cell phone records for calls between Feb. 1 and March 31: Phone company ACS has turned records over to Branchflower.

• John Bitney, Palin’s former legislative liaison, now aide to House Speaker John Harris: Questioned in Branchflower’s office, satisfying his subpoena.

• Murlene Wilkes, owner of Harbor Adjustment Service, an Anchorage business with a state contract to process workers’ compensation claims: Scheduled to give statement Friday to Branchflower.

• Todd Palin, the governor’s husband: Served with subpoena but hasn’t given statement and didn’t appear before the committee as ordered Friday to testify.

• Randy Ruaro, Palin’s deputy chief of staff: Served with subpoena but hasn’t given statement and didn’t appear before the committee as ordered Friday to testify.

• Ivy Frye, a Palin special assistant: Served with subpoena but hasn’t given statement and didn’t appear before the committee as ordered Friday to testify.

• Annette Kreitzer, state administration commissioner: Not yet served with subpoena.

• Dianne Kiesel, a state human resources manager: Not yet served with subpoena.

• Nicki Neal, state personnel and labor relations director: Not yet served with subpoena.

• Brad Thompson, state risk management director: Not yet served with subpoena.

• Mike Nizich, Palin’s chief of staff: Not yet served with subpoena.

• Kris Perry, director of the governor’s Anchorage office: Not yet served with subpoena.

• Janice Mason, Palin’s scheduler and executive secretary: Not yet served with subpoena.

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French's letter on subpoenas

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --

The Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to meet this morning in Anchorage to talk Troopergate, but the gathering amounted to Sen. Hollis French reading a prepared statement, and distributing this letter he's sending to Sen. Lyda Green today.
None of the people who have been subpoened showed up. Check the French letter for details on each of the players. French said they’re pushing ahead with the investigation and that investigator Steve Branchflower plans to wrap up his report Oct. 10. -- meaning before the election.

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Trooper probe turns political

CNN's Randi Kaye delves deeper into a state probe involving Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her former brother-in-law.

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The Power to Arrest

The AG’s action will likely stoke the partisan fervor further. Almost certainly, this will wind up being handled by the judiciary, which will have to determine whether the AG can actually block the legislative subpoenas, and whether the probe has run off the rails. Since that is a political rather than legal question (unless I missed something in the state constitution), the judiciary will probably throw it all back to the Legislature.
The Legislative Council needs to meet to take back control of this issue from Hollis French and Kim Elton. Either they need to appoint less-partisan special masters from among their own ranks, or they need to end the probe altogether. They could also shift the probe to the State Personnel Board, as Palin’s team has suggested, although that has its own issues; it would have the executive branch investigating the head of the branch, and while they could do that with little problem, it may not satisfy concerns over the potential lack of independence of the probe.
These are the vital safeguards, the core democratic functions, which the Bush administration and now the McCain/Palin campaign are flagrantly subverting.

Anyone with doubts about the seriousness of this abuse of power investigation should just listen to the audio recording of Gov. Palin's top aide, Frank Bailey, calling the Police Commissioner's office and badgering them about firing Palin's ex-brother-in-law, repeatedly suggesting he was doing so on behalf of Palin. The sleaze and impropriety oozes off the audio. That was but one of dozens of similar communications made by close Palin associates, including her husband, prior to the time Palin fired the Police Commissioner. Palin quite implausibly denies that they did so at her behest, and has offered an endless series of shifting explanations for the firing. That's what the Legislature is trying to investigate by questioning her husband and top aides -- and that is what the Palins are now overtly impeding by breaking the law: i.e., refusing to comply with legislative subpoenas.
Wonder what would happen if the Legislative Council began asserting itself? Does the Alaska constitution give them the power to reconvene the legislature?

Section 2.9 - Special Sessions.

Special sessions may be called by the governor or by vote of two-thirds of the legislators. The vote may be conducted by the legislative council or as prescribed by law. At special sessions called by the governor, legislation shall be limited to subjects designated in his proclamation calling the session, to subjects presented by him, and the reconsideration of bills vetoed by him after adjournment of the last regular session. Special sessions are limited to thirty days.

Or what if they held a contempt vote anyway? And issued their own arrest warrants under their inherent authority to enforce their own subpoenas? A subpoena isn't a subpoena if there's no independent power to enforce it. It's inherent in the authority to issue them, which the Legislative Council has by law. Gosh, wouldn't that be interesting for the Alaska State Troopers? (h/t to bmaz at emptywheel's corner of Firedoglake for the tip on the statutes.)

Sure it would end up in court. But it will anyway, since the Palins are already testing a novel legal theory. So why not join them? Let's make it a he said/she said story. Make full use of the Republican-developed "some say" framing. "Some say" the governor and her coterie are absolutely immune from all legislative oversight.

And "some say" Todd Palin is a fugitive from justice.

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Update from a local

Andree McLeod Public Records Request

There is a very nice woman in Anchorage named Andree McLeod who for a number of years was a personal friend of Sarah Palin's (and has copies of email traffic which document their relationship). A year or so ago Andree decided that Sarah had politicized the Office of the Governor in exactly the same way that Randy Ruedrich, the chairman of the Alaska Republican Party, had politicized the Alaska Oil and Gas Commission on which Sarah and Randy had served as patronage appointees during Frank the Bank Murkowski's tenure as governor. (Sarah outing Randy and then quitting the Commission is the event that gave Alaska's governor-girl the name recognition and clean-government bona fides that allowed her to beat Frank in the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary election.)

To prove that, Andree filed a public records request under the Alaska Freedom of Information Act for a voluminous number of documents from the Office of the Governor, email, text messages, travel documents, etc.

In response to her public records request, in July the Office of the Governor gave Andree three or four thousand heavily redacted documents, plus a log describing 1,100 emails that the Office of the Governor was withholding from disclosure. Several weeks later when McCain selected Sarah as his running mate and the national press corps descended on Anchorage, Andree's document cache became a grab bag of low hanging fruit.

Two weeks ago I became involved because the Office of the Governor justified its redactions and its decision to withhold the 1,100 emails by invoking the "deliberative process executive privilege". For the non-lawyers, that's a legal privilege that allows the head of the executive branch of the government to protect documents from disclosure if they contain confidential advice that people who work in the executive branch have given regarding official executive branch business.

That's fair enough. But it turns out that Sarah's husband, Todd Palin - Alaska's "First Dude" - who is not a State employee and who has no role in the operation of State government - was given a copy of many of the redacted and withheld documents. It also turns out that for the past two years Sarah has been conducting official State business using her private yahoo.com email account.

Because of Todd Palin's presence on the distribution list and Sarah's use of her private email account, the Office of the Governor unintentionally (because Sarah doesn't understand how the day-to-day nuts-and-bolts process of governing is supposed to work) waived the deliberative process executive privilege. So on Andree McLeod's behalf, last Monday I filed an administrative appeal which demands that the Office of the Governor give Andree all of the documents that it has given to Todd Palin. (If you're interested in the legal rationale, the article about Todd and the emails that Mother Jones has posted its website - www.motherjones.com - has a link to a copy of the administrative appeal. Also, yesterday on www.juneauempire.com the Juneau Empire posted a pretty good article on the situation: Alan Suderman, "Palin Asked to Release Her Husband's Emails" (September 14, 2008).)

The evidence of Todd Palin's involvement in the day-to-day operations of the Office of the Governor that Andree McLeod uncovered is particularly timely because of Troopergate.


Troopergate is the local name for the scandal that the Judiciary Committee of the Alaska Senate, chaired by Hollis French, is investigating. The allegation is that Sarah fired Walt Monegan, her Commissioner of Public Safety, because, despite having been leaned on both hard and repeatedly by Todd and Sarah to do so, Walt refused to violate state civil service rules and fire Sarah's ex-brother-in-law, Mike Wooten, from his job as an Alaska State Trooper.

Sarah first agreed to cooperate with the Judiciary Committee's investigation, saying that she had nothing to hide and that the charges were untrue. Then when she became McCain's running mate, she reversed course and started stone-walling (and told her people to stone-wall) in an obvious attempt to run the clock out between now and the November election.

Faced with that, on Friday the Judiciary Committee voted to subpoena thirteen individuals, the most prominent of whom is Todd Palin. So Andree McCLeod's documentation of the extent to which Sarah has allowed Todd to wander around inside the Office of the Governor may play a role in Troopergate.

On Sunday's Meet the Press Rudy Giuliani trashed Hollis by calling the Judiciary Committee's Troopergate investigation a partisan witch hunt, for which reason, insofar as Rudy said he was concerned, Sarah has every good reason not to cooperate with it. Tom Brokaw let that pass because his producers apparently hadn't done their homework.

The actual fact of the matter is that the Judiciary Committee issued its subpoenas on a 3 to 2 vote.

The two no votes were cast by Lesil McGuire (whose husband, Tom Anderson, is residing in a federal prison in Oregon for having accepted a bribe or two or three when he was a member of the Alaska House of Representatives) and Gene Therriault (an extremely good guy who is a Republican from North Pole, a Fairbanks suburb whose political culture is as conservative as Wasilla's).

Of the three yes votes, two were cast by Democrats: Hollis French and Bill Wielechowski. The third (and deciding) vote was cast by Charlie Huggins. Not only is Charlie a conservative Republican (when he cast his vote Charlie did so clad head to toe in a camouflage jump suit because he was heading out to go moose hunting), but he represents Wasilla in the Alaska Senate. So if Republican Charlie Huggins had voted the other way the investigation would have shut down and Sarah (and Todd) would have been home free of Troopergate at least through the election.

Sarah and Her Earmarks

The world would be a much improved place if, while inventing an Aids vaccine, the scientists who are trying to do so also would invent a Pinocchio serum. If they would, the brag Sarah keeps repeating that she said "No thanks" when Congress tried to give Alaska the "Bridge [in the singular] to Nowhere" would have been outed instantaneously - using no tool other than a tape measure - as the prevaricative nonsense that it is.

I mention that because during his interview with Sarah on ABC's 20-20, Charles Gibson called Sarah out for hiring a Washington, D.C., lobbyist when she was mayor of Wasilla in order to get as many earmarks stuffed into as many appropriations bills as her lobbyist's influence-pedaling could pedal.

Sarah responded to the charge by cheerfully admitting that on her watch the City of Wasilla had indeed hired a Washington, D.C., lobbyist. But, with an absolutely straight face, she then had the chutzpah to tell Gibson that if the city had not done so it would have had to have spent the same amount of money anyway flying city officials to and from Capitol Hill to do their own lobbying.

As Tom Brokaw did Rudy Giuliani, Charles Gibson let her get away with that.

The fact that Mayor Palin hired a Washington, D.C., lobbyist to obtain earmarks has been widely reported. But the identity of the lobbyist has been reported considerably less widely. The lobbyist was an attorney named Steve Silver who has been a friend of mine for thirty years. Steve began life on the Hill working for Ted Stevens and rose inside the Stevens organization to be chief of staff. Sarah hired Steve when Ted Stevens became chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

To the best of my knowledge, not one of the earmarks Steve got Ted to give Sarah was a project in the President's budget. Instead, Lisa Sutherland, Ted's bag-girl inside the Appropriations Committee for Alaska projects, simply stuffed items off the City of Wasilla's wish list into this or that appropriations bill.

From the Alaska point of view, there was absolutely nothing wrong with that. It's how we all did business during the Ted Stevens Raj at the Appropriations Committee. But listening to Sarah's newly-invented doe-eyed sanctimony about earmarks - and watching Charles Gibson let her get away with it - was excruciating.

Before leaving earmarks, it's worth relating that the winter of 2001-2002 I flew from Anchorage into Washington National sitting next to a wonderful woman named Judy Patrick. When I chatted her up, Judy turned out to be a member of the Wasilla City Council who was flying east to be chaperoned into the Appropriations Committee by her lobbyist - Steve Silver - to pitch Ted Stevens aka Lisa Sutherland to fund the projects on the City of Wasilla's earmark list. (If you're curious, go to www.nytimes.com, scroll down to "Politics", then click on the article "Once Elected, Palin Hired Friends and Lashed Foes." What will pop up is a photograph of Mayor Palin and the Wasilla City Council. The blond woman dressed in black is Judy.)

Later that week I bumped into Judy and Steve at the Appropriations Committee when I was making my own rounds on the Hill. So contrary to the thoroughly ridiculous lie Sarah told Charles Gibson, hiring Steve did not reduce the City of Wasilla's travel budget.

In any case, that spring I stopped in at Sagaya's, the coffee joint and ersatz Whole Foods Market three blocks from my house where thirty different brands of olive oil and designer mustard are at all times on sale and on Saturday mornings those of us in the neighborhood who have graduate degrees and those of us who do not sit around reading the morning papers, being seen, and being cool.

When I walked in, there was Judy Patrick drinking coffee and reading a book. When I asked Judy what she was reading it turned out to be a book on how to run an election campaign. When I then asked her what she was going to run for, Judy said that one of her best girl friends, a woman named Sarah Palin, who was finishing up as mayor of Wasilla, was going to run for Lieutenant Governor. Before Sarah did so, Judy thought that she and Sarah should try to learn something about how to run a statewide election campaign. So she had checked out a book on the subject from the Library. Let history record that that was the first time the name Sarah Palin was uttered in my presence.)

Palin Ethics Reports

Since her ascendancy as McCain's running mate Sarah has been newly dressed to the nines. And as I sit here typing she's flying around in a private jet, and being put up by the McCain campaign in four star hotels. Since it's reasonable to assume that she's not paying for any of that, it's all a gift. If that's correct, then each of those gifts should be listed on the next ethics report that Alaska law requires governors and legislators to file periodically. That will be terrifically interesting reading. But I doubt that a report has to be filed prior to the election.

Read more at AlaskaDispatch where this piece originally appeared.

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Get out of town....

McCain-Palin campaign accused of co-opting department of law

Todd Palin refuses to testify
by The Associate Press
Thursday, September 18, 2008

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Todd Palin says he will not testify about abuse of power allegations against his wife, Gov. Sarah Palin.

Todd Palin no longer believes the Legislature's investigation is legitimate, said McCain-Palin spokesman Ed O'Callaghan.

Independent investigator Stephen Branchflower subpoenaed Palin, who was to appear Friday before Alaska lawmakers on the firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.

The Palins and the governor's staff are under investigation because some suspect Monegan was fired for refusing to dismiss an Alaska State Trooper who had gone through a bitter divorce with Sarah Palin's sister.

A key lawmaker also said Thursday that the stonewalling of witnesses is likely to stall the probe until after Election Day.

Sarah Palin welcomed the investigation at first, but she has opposed it since becoming the Republican candidate for vice president.

This is a breaking story.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Palin being a Bit too Clever

John McCain has caught his share of flak for not knowing his way around e-mail. But as his running mate has been discovering over the past week, being a bit too clever with e-mail has its pitfalls as well. As Sarah Palin seeks to beat back charges that she improperly used her position as governor to urge the firing of her estranged brother-in-law, an Alaska state trooper, internal documents suggest that her staff may have hoped to channel sensitive correspondence through unofficial personal e-mail accounts to evade potential subpoenas.

Government may not need warrant to search your e-mail
Hack of Palin e-mail makes case for sticking with .gov account
Curing "sender's remorse" (and screw-ups) with self-destructing e-mail
"Troopergate," as the iron laws of American political scandal nomenclature dictated the fracas would be dubbed, began as a dispute worthy of Judge Judy: Palin's sister was embroiled in a nasty divorce and custody dispute with State Trooper Mike Wooten, and the newly elected governor made no secret of her displeasure that the ex-in-law was not yet an ex-lawman. The family tiff blossomed into a full-blown ethics investigation after Palin dismissed public safety commissioner Walt Monegan, who has claimed his refusal to fire Wooten led to his own termination.

Palin has indicated she won't cooperate with the investigation, which she regards as "tainted" by political motivations, but the McCain-Palin campaign yesterday released a batch of e-mails that her lawyers say demonstrate Monegan was fired for insubordination. But over the past week, press attention has focused on other e-mails that Palin appears more reticent about releasing. In response to a request filed by a conservative activist under Alaska's Public Records Act, Palin sought to invoke executive privilege in order to withhold some 1,100 e-mails (PDF), many of whose subject lines suggest little connection to sensitive policy deliberation.

Gov. Sarah Palin Moreover, Palin's appeal to executive privilege appears to be at odds with a strategy she discussed with aides in correspondence obtained by the Washington Post and New York Times: using unofficial e-mail accounts, like "gov.sarah@yahoo.com" and personal devices like BlackBerries to shield communications from subpoenas as official public records. As bloggers were quick to note, this was the same tactic adopted by White House aides worried that their correspondence could be disclosed to investigators probing the allegedly political firing of US attorneys.

Even before the US attorney scandal, the present administration had exhibited a spectacular gift for losing track of digital correspondence. Thanks to a purported upgrade implemented soon after the Clintons cleared out, the White House e-mail system was left without an effective means of archiving correspondence. Millions of e-mails vanished at least temporarily, and thousands may well be gone for good: A leaked memo suggested, at any rate, that there is little hope of completing the recovery before a new president is sworn in.

Whether the Yahoo-loophole exploited by Palin holds up would depend on how courts interpret the relevant Alaska statues, according to Meredith Fuchs, an attorney with the National Security Archive at George Washington University. "It is a basic tenet of legal ethics that records should not be destroyed if litigation is anticipated," Fuchs told Ars. "If one anticipates litigation, then the destruction of the evidence is called 'spoliation' and in some cases is subject to court sanctions."

That's not to say that alternation between official and unofficial channels is some nefarious Republican invention. One former Democratic congressional staffer with whom Ars spoke noted that colleagues would typically switch to personal mobile phones or e-mail accounts when discussing electoral campaign activities—a form of fuzzy half-compliance with the ban on using congressional office resources for partisan campaign purposes. (Perhaps that's why Palin staffer Ivy Frye waited until a Saturday evening to phone up blogger Sherry Whistine. Whistine, a conservative critic of Palin's, told Ars that Frye angrily demanded she—and perhaps others on what the blogger termed the "Poison Ivy call list"—stop attacking the governor.)

Even if all this proves technically permissible, however, it can't do much good for Palin's straight-shooting reformer image to have traded her official account for Yahoo as a means of avoiding transparency. As with so many political scandals, the cover-up may prove more damaging than the underlying controversy. But if a suit launched Tuesday by five GOP state legislators that aims to end or delay the Troopergate probe until after the election succeeds, Palin stands a good chance of shrugging off the fracas. And it seems even more unlikely that the Bush administration will face any real consequences for its record-keeping failures.

One nagging question, then, is whether these cases don't illustrate the double-edged nature of transparency and "sunshine" rules. Regulation of the intelligence community may make abuse of power less likely, but it makes it downright inconceivable a future generation of spymasters would pen the candid memos, openly admitting criminality, uncovered by the Church Commission in the 1970s. Faced with strong disclosure obligations, public officials may find ways to game the rules and simply avoid leaving trails—paper or pixelated—if there's the slightest doubt about the propriety of their communications. That's surely no reason to abandon the ideal of more open government, but is a reminder that the law of unintended consequences remains in effect. In some cases, at least, eternal sunshine yields the spotless drive.

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Hacked Yahoo Email Account

Did the internet just cause Sarah Palin to destroy state's evidence? The potential Veep is in a bit of trouble for conducting state business using her personal, unarchived email address (gov.sarah@yahoo.com) instead of her official account (which is, of course, subject to laws requiring the retention of government records). Emails from that Yahoo account are already being sought in connection with the Troopergate investigation. Palin email account: gov.palin@yahoo.com. It looks legit! The offending posts, screenshots, heretofore unseen family photos, and emails have all been deleted from Imageshack and 4Chan. But we have them. You want to read Sarah Palin's email?

Ok, sad thing first: a good Samaritan reset the password and tried to alert Sarah. But he also posted the new password, causing multiple people to try to log in at once, freezing the account for 24 hours. And now, the account has been deleted! Which is, as we said, maybe destruction of evidence? So for now this is, we think, all we'll get to see from this email account (if anyone finds evidence of saved emails, let us know.)

The full timeline of events, with corroborating evidence of the legitimacy of these screengrabs, is here. Here's why it all looks convincing:

The emails to Ivy Frye, a Palin aide who's mentioned in the earlier email stories specifically wondering how best to hide her correspondence with the governor.
The attached contact list (below) features an email address for husband Todd Palin that is legit. As well as an apparently genuine phone number for Bristol Palin and an address for Beth Leschper, Palin's deputy communications director.
The email from Amy McCorkell, a known associate of Palin's from Wasilla who might have the governor's personal email address.
Emails to and from Lt Governor Sean Parnell about a local radio talk host.
Calls to the phone number listed for Bristol Palin apparently go to her voicemail.
The public profile for the gov.palin address dates its last update to April of this year—well before she became McCain's running mate. So if it's a hoax, it's a hoax that began long before anyone outside of Alaska cared about Palin.
We haven't seen these family photos before. Have we?
The previously accessible public profiles for gov.sarah@yahoo and gov.palin@yahoo were both deleted at the same time.
Here are the screenshots of the emails saved before the account went dark, along with the contact list. It's newsworthy and we will not be taking it down!

Check out screenshots

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Using the absurd to demonstrate the absurd tactics of Palin's Administration

Hackers say they have gained access to U.S. vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's Yahoo account and published some of its contents on the Wikileaks Web site. That site seems to have been taken down. Gawker has many of the subject titles and content of Palin's yahoo email account gov.palin@yahoo.com.

I think the secret service had something to do with that and they requested all documents to be handed over. However, I heard on a local news source that AP refused......

On Wednesday, Wikileaks published several screen shots of Yahoo e-mail messages, e-mail addresses of Palin family members and associates, and other data that hackers claim to have obtained from Palin's private Yahoo account.

One e-mail message appears to be from Alaska Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, complaining to Palin about an interview by Alaska radio show host Dan Fagan. "Arghhh! He is so inconsistent and purposefully misleading," Palin apparently writes in response. The potential Veep is in a bit of trouble for conducting state business using her personal, unarchived email address (gov.sarah@yahoo.com) instead of her official account (which is, of course, subject to laws requiring the retention of government records). Emails from that Yahoo account are already being sought in connection with the Troopergate investigation.

Andrée McLeod, the activist who filed a FOIA request, said Wednesday evening that Palin should have known better than to conduct state business using an unsecured e-mail account.
"If this woman is so careless as to conduct state business on a private e-mail account that has been hacked into, what in the world is she going to do when she has access to information that is vital to our national security interests?" she asked.

Washington Post

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Just for the record......

On Tuesday, Governor Sarah Palin's appointed Attorney General sent a letter to state Sen. Hollis French, the Democrat overseeing the "Troopergate" investigation, and asked that the subpoenas that were issued last week to comple testimony be withdrawn.

Attorney General Talis Colberg also stated the employees would refuse to appear unless either the full state Senate or the entire Legislature votes to compel their testimony.

According to Colberg, the employees are caught between their respect for the Legislature and their loyalty to the governor, who initially agreed to cooperate with the inquiry but has increasingly opposed and has attempted to delay it since beoming John McCain's running mate.

"This is an untenable position for our clients because the governor has so strongly stated that the subpoenas issued by your committee are of questionable validity," Colberg wrote.

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed 13 people. They include 10 employees of Palin's administration and three who are not: her husband, Todd Palin; John Bitney, Palin's former legislative liaison who now is chief of staff for Republican House Speaker John Harris; and Murlene Wilkes, a state contractor.

This is quite a change of tune for Colberg, who just a month ago came under questions for talking to potential witnesses ahead of special investigator Steve Branchflower.

Both Palin and Colberg stated at the time he was gathering evidence to hand over to Branchflower for the investigation.

However today, four weeks later, both Colberg and Palin are questioning the validity of the investigation.

Also on Tuesday, the McCain campaign rolled out what they're calling their "Truth Squad", which consists of former Palin spokesperson Meg Stapleton and a New York lawyer named Ed O'Callahan.

During there initial press conference they claimed that Democratic State Senator Hollis French, manipulated the witness list by leaving off the name of Palin's former Chief of Staff Mike Tibbles.

However they were wrong; Franch had nothing to do with leaving Tibbles name of the list. The move was made by Republican Representative Jay Ramras who felt that Tibbles should be left off because he is now in the private sector and doesn't have the advantage of a state lawyer to defend himself.

So on their first day, the McCain truth squad came up with a false accusation.

So just for the record, we'll share the actual truth with the Meg and Ed about this investigation so they'll know better next time:

Lawmakers seek outside inquiry of Monegan firing - KTUU-TV – July 18, 2008:

Some lawmakers are asking for more answers to the reasons Palin had for firing Monegan. Palin, in Wasilla for the Governor’s Picnic, said she would not fight such an effort to look into this matter by an independent investigator.

“We would never prohibit, or be less than enthusiastic about any kind of investigation. Let’s deal in the facts, and you do that via investigation,” Palin said.

Senate will look into Monegan firing - KTUU-TV – July 19, 2008:

While the governor said there is no need for an investigation from an outside investigator, she said she will answer any questions from lawmakers, media and the public.

Public Safety already headed in ‘new direction,’ some say - Anchorage Daily News - July 22, 2008:

The governor denies any wrongdoing, and says she welcomes any questions on the matter.

Palin under fire – Legislature appears poised to appoint investigator -Aftermath of Monegan Dismissal, Anchorage Daily News - July 22, 2008:

“I’ve said all along, hold me accountable,” Palin told reporters in Juneau. “And I’m telling the truth when I say there was never pressure put on Commissioner Monegan.”

Lawmakers move to investigate Monegan ouster, KTUU-TV – July 24, 2008:

The governor says she welcomes the investigation. “I have absolutely nothing to hide and am happy to answer any questions,” she said. “I’m happy to answer any questions between now and when they do conduct an investigation also.”

Gov. Palin said last weekend that she did not think an independent investigator was needed. “That being the route that they choose, then so be it,” she said. “I’m happy to comply, to cooperate. I have absolutely nothing to hide. No problem with an independent investigation.”

Hired help will probe Monegan dismissal - $100,000: Legislators vote to have independent investigator look into controversial firing - Anchorage Daily News –July 29, 2008:

“The governor has said all along that she will fully cooperate with an investigation and her staff will cooperate as well,” Leighow said.

Branchflower to investigate in Monegan firing - KTUU-TV – August 1, 2008:

“I’ve heard (Branchflower’s) name, or course, over the years in Alaska,” Palin said. “I know he’s a prosecutor, probably a heavy duty prosecutor, and so that kind of puzzles us why we are going down that road when we are very, very open to answering any questions anybody has of me or administrators.”

PRESS RELEASE: GOVERNOR TO TURN OVER FINDINGS - Office of the Governor – August 13, 2008:

Governor Palin has directed all her staff to cooperate fully with Branchflower.

Palin administration cooperating with investigator - KTUU-TV – August 15, 2008:

Lawmakers had wanted to know if Steve Branchflower needed them to issues subpoenas to require witnesses to talk to him about Gov. Sarah Palin’s decision to fire Monegan and about the actions of her staffers. But State Sen. Hollis French says the meeting was cancelled because there’s no need for subpoenas at this point.

Palin aide Frank Bailey placed on administrative leave - KTUU-TV – August 19, 2008:

“We figured, if there is an investigation going on with an unknown outcome – we don’t know exactly what (special investigator) Mr. Branchflower is going to conclude – that Mr. Bailey just needed to step away from the situation, although be available to the investigator,” [Palin spokesman] McAllister said. The governor’s office also says that Bailey will cooperate fully with the investigation.

Palin aide put on leave in firing flap, BAILEY: Official who made all inquiring about trooper taken “out of the mix.” - Anchorage Daily News – August 20, 2008:

Spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said that with Bailey still a state employee, Palin “can direct him to assist Mr. Branchflower, thereby fulfilling her pledge to Alaskans to cooperate fully with the investigation.”

Re: Governor Palin and Trooper Investigation - McCain Campaign Press Release – August 30, 2008:

Governor Palin is an open book on this – she did nothing wrong and has nothing to hide. As a reformer and a leader on ethics reform, she has been happy to cooperate fully in the inquiry of this matter.

Attorney challenges Monegan firing inquiry – Anchorage Daily News – September 2, 2008:

He [Governor Palin’s Lawyer Mr. Van Flein] said the governor’s office welcomes the inquiry and will cooperate. Palin has made repeated public statements that she’ll cooperate, and that hasn’t changed at this point, Van Flein says.

Any questions?

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Palin's attack dogs from McCain's Camp and the lies they tell

Like the story of Goldilocks and the three bears, Governor Sarah Palin has finally come up with yet another excuse for why she fired her former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan that she's hoping is just right.

After offering the public a handful of excuses over the last sixty days about why she suddenly fired Monegan, on Monday her attorney and McCain campaign attack dogs settled on claiming that Palin's reason was "Monegan's "rogue mentality."

Oh really, it took Palin sixty days and the help of John McCains campaign to come up with this bizarre explanation?

According to papers filed by Palin's lawyer, Monegan lost his job as public safety commissioner because he resisted Gov. Sarah Palin's budget policies and ultimately showed "outright insubordination."

According to both Palin's lawyer and a McCain campaign spokesman, it was Monegan's "rogue mentality" on budgeting and other policy issues that got him fired in July, not his alleged refusal to dismiss a state trooper who was involved in a messy divorce with the governor's sister.

Ironically, this revelation was released just days after the legislative council heard compelling testimony from special investigator Steve Branchflower that raised such serious questions about the administrations role in trying to fire Palin's former brother in law, State Trooper Mike Wooten, the legislature issue subpoenas.

However, both Palin and her new attack surrogates from the McCain camp should have spent some time vetting both her and her staffs previous statements to the press over the last two months.

On July 14, 2008 Kyle Hopkins of the Anchorage Daily News asked Palin press spokeperson Sharon Leighow about Monegan's firing:

Hopkins: "Was there a personality conflict here? You know, a rift between the governor and ..."

Leighow: "No, absolutely not. I don't know if there's more to add than what I've already told you as far as the governor wanting to change leadership in the public of safety. I don't know if we can point to one specific incident or one particular, specific detail."

In a July 21, 2008 story in the Anchorage Daily News, "The governor says she dismissed Monegan and replaced him with Kenai Police Chief Chuck Kopp last week because she wants a new direction for the department.

Palin has said she wants more of a focus on trooper recruitment and fighting drug and alcohol abuse in rural Alaska. The governor’s spokeswoman, Sharon Leighow, said no more details are coming about the reasons for Monegan’s dismissal."

In a July 28 story in the Anchorage Daily News, Palin abruptly fired Monegan on July 11 and later explained she wanted to take the Department of Public Safety in a different, more energetic direction.

And yet according to McCain campaign spokesperson Megan Stapleton at today's press conference, she said that Monegan's "egregious rogue behavior" had become a major issue over the previous eight months and represented the reason for his termination?

But after two weeks and countless press interviews between July 14 and 28, neither Palin nor her staff uttered not one word of Monegan's rogue behavior.

Nor did they even mention the word rogue.

Is this really their final answer?

Then during an August 13, 2008 press conference, Palin reveals a recorded tape conversation where her close aide Frank Bailey is on tape trying to enlist the help of another State Trooper to help get Palin's ex brother in law fired.

In the recorded phone call, Bailey talks about Palin's feelings toward Monegan; “She (Palin) really likes Walt a lot, but on this issue she feels like it’s, she doesn’t know why there’s absolutely no action for a year … it’s very troubling to her and the family. I can definitely relay that.”

So according to Bailey, the governor "really" liked Monegan's performance, but just not his performance in responding to her wishes to see Wooten out of a job. This was on February 29...and then four months later Monegan is out of a job?

Also during that August 13, 2008 press conference Palin gave more reasons why she fired Monegan.

"And now I want to talk about Walt Monegan. I appointed Monegan as commissioner of public safety because of his grasp of both urban and rural law enforcement issues. Unfortunately as my term progressed, Commissioner Monegan was not making headway on key goals, such as filling numerous trooper vacancies. Alaskans deserve a fully staffed trooper force," Palin said.

Palin's comments however were in complete contradiction to her State of the State speech just months earlier when she told Alaskans, "In Public Safety and Corrections, after years of positions left vacant, we've doubled academy recruits."

Palin then defended her firing of Monegan by saying he wasn't doing enough to combat bootlegging and alcohol problems in rural Alaska. Then she turned around and contradicted herself by saying that Monegan was offered a job where his skills could be better used; in charge of fighting bootlegging and alcohol problems in rural Alaska.

So after firing Monegan for what today is she is calling "outright insubordination" she offered him another job?

Is anybody paying attention to this?

Also during the August 13 press conference she defended her firing of Monegan by saying he was asking for lawmakers for too much money. However records from the State Legislative Finance Division, show Governor Palin proposed a $7.3 million increase to the public safety department budget but the legislature reduced the amount to $6.4 million.

According to one House Finance Committee member, when the governor's original proposal was being cut by $900,000, she nor her staff said a word while Monegan was begging for the administration to fight for the original amount they requested due to skyrocketing fuel prices and increasing costs. He wasn't asking for more, he was simply asking for the original amount proposed by Palin.

In addition, the Associated Press reported today that the McCain campaign released a series of e-mails detailing the frustration several Palin administration officials experienced in dealing with Monegan. The "last straw," the campaign said, was a trip Monegan planned to Washington in July to seek federal money for investigating and prosecuting sexual assault cases.

First, how is the McCain campaign able to release administration emails when the administration itself refuses to release emails that have been requested by both the press and the public?

Second, Monegan stated on the KTUU News that the trip was authorized and supported by Governor Palin which seems to make sense because Alaska leads the nation in sexual assault.

But even if one was to believe Palin's story, the fact that she'd offer someone who she accuses of having a "rogue mentality" and was guilty of "outright insubordination" another job in her administration, raises serious questions about her ability to run government.

And by the way, where have I heard that term rogue cop before?

Oh yeah; in the Anchorage Daily News on September 4, 2008: "Palin says she never pressured anybody, doesn't know that anyone on her staff did, and wasn't aware of what Todd was up to. She has called Wooten a dangerous "rogue trooper."

The only thing rogue around here is Palin's imagination and the McCain camps attempt to mislead Alaskans.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

You Decide

Not a Democrat smear! This has been a pattern for Palin.

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The Case For or Against Sarah Palin

Some women have serious policy disagreements with Sarah Palin or think she might be unqualified to be a heart beat from the presidency. Sarah at best should resign for if only the appearence she might care to raise her 4months and 7 and 14 year old children. However, she will not resign or blink for her family, let alone the fact she has abuse of power and ethics charges against her.

Woman of America; Liberal or Conservative thinkers you are smarter than the woman who wants to be the Vice President of the United States of America That's my point
On the vice presidency:

"But as for that v.p. talk all the time, I'll tell you, I still can't answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it, exactly, that the v.p. does every day?"

--July 31, 2008, CNBC's "Kudlow & Company"

On Iraq:

"I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq. I heard on the news about the new deployments, and while I support our president, Condoleezza Rice, and the administration, I want to know that we have an exit plan in place."

--March 21, 2007, Alaska Business Monthly

"Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [American soldiers] out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan."

--June 8, 2008, Wasilla Assembly of God Church

On creationism:

"Growing up with being so privileged and blessed to be given a lot of information on, on both sides of the subject--creationism and evolution. It's been a healthy foundation for me. But don't be afraid of information and let kids debate both sides."

--October 25, 2006, gubernatorial debate

On global warming:

"A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I'm not one, though, who would attribute it to being man-made."

--August 29, 2008, Newsmax

On energy:

"I think God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that."

--June 8, 2008, Wasilla Assembly of God Church

On receiving $1.8 million in federal earmarks for the city of Wasilla:

"FYI This does not include our nearly one million Dollars from the Feds for our Airport Paving Project. We did well!!!"

--June 14, 1999, Wasilla City Council Informational Memorandum 99-62

On that "Bridge to Nowhere":

Question: "Would you continue state funding for the proposed Knik Arm and Gravina Island bridges?"

Palin: "Yes. I would like to see Alaska's infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now--while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist."

--October 22, 2006, Anchorage Daily News

On library books she doesn't like:

"What would your response be if I asked you to remove some books from the collection?"

--October 1996 conversation with librarian Mary Ellen Emmons, Anchorage Daily News

On the secessionist Alaskan Independence Party:

"Your party plays an important role in our state's politics ... keep up the good work, and God bless you."

--2008* video address to Independence Party's convention

On Ivana Trump:

"We want to see Ivana because we are so desperate in Alaska for any semblance of glamour and culture."

--April 3, 1996, Anchorage Daily News

On running Wasilla:

"It's not rocket science. It's six million dollars and fifty-three employees. "

--October 1996, Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman

On being governor:

"I will unambiguously, steadfastly, and doggedly guard the interests of this great state, as a mother naturally guards her own. Like a Southeast Eagle and her eaglets, or, more appropriately here in the Carlson, like a Nanook defending her cub."

--December 4, 2006, inaugural address

On the prospect of becoming a candidate for vice president:

"It kind of cracks me up. It is so far out of the realm of possibility and reality."

--August 14, 2008, Financial Post

*In the magazine, the year of the address is listed as 2006. It is 2008.

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Alaska state business done on the Yahoo mail server.

IF THE QUESTION is whether personal e-mail accounts should be used for state business by Gov. Sarah Palin and her staff the answer is obvious.

And that answer is no. Such a practice does not ensure that public information will be saved and appears to be a neat way around Alaska’s public records law.

Her spokesman, Bill McAllister says, according to the Daily News’s front-page story by Lisa Demer this morning, that he does not hear any “public clamor for access to internal communications of the governor’s office.” Unfortuntely, who cares what he has heard or not heard?

Those communications, unless properly classified as protected by executive privilege, if sent on state equipment, on state time, by a state employee, belong not to the governor’s office or McAllister, but to the people of Alaska.

The idea of the law is to make as much information as possible available about government to average person, not to make such information unavailable.

Unfortunately, it appears this administration for some time has been trying to keep the public in the dark by mixing public and private e-mail accounts to cover its tracks, and there is no telling how long, or if, those messages are being saved. So much for any pretense of “clear and transparent.”

“And I don’t think the public expects us to inundate them, flood them, with all kinds of communications that they don’t need, when in fact, the final decisions will be public, will be documented, will be substantiated, and they always have been.”

Trust us, he seems to say, we’re from the government and we know what you need to see.”

Alaskans deserve better.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

In a dangerous world

It was bad enough that Sarah's performance in the first televised interviews she has done since she joined the Republican ticket was so visibly scripted and lacking in awareness.

What made it so much worse is the strategy for which the Republicans have made Palin the frontwoman: win the White House not on ideas, not on clarity of the conservative message but by denigrating experience, sound judgment and qualifications.

The idea that Americans want leaders who have none of those things — who are so blindly certain of what Sarah Palin without even knowing her record. You're so excited to follow her as she calls “the mission”, most of you don't know what the mission is. Sarah's abuses and unethical behavior made none of so-called conservatives blink, they won’t even pause for reflection, reason or prayer — shows a contempt for voters and raises frightening questions about how Mr. McCain and Ms. Palin plan to run this country.

In a dangerous world, Americans need a presidential team who knows that real strength requires serious thought, preparation and proper decision making skills.

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Sarah appoints Friends and Family

This article is by Jo Becker, Peter S. Goodman and Michael Powell. [NYT]

WASILLA, Alaska — Gov. Sarah Palin lives by the maxim that all politics is local, not to mention personal.

So when there was a vacancy at the top of the State Division of Agriculture, she appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, to the $95,000-a-year directorship. A former real estate agent, Ms. Havemeister cited her childhood love of cows as a qualification for running the roughly $2 million agency.

Ms. Havemeister was one of at least five schoolmates Ms. Palin hired, often at salaries far exceeding their private sector wages.

When Ms. Palin had to cut her first state budget, she avoided the legion of frustrated legislators and mayors. Instead, she huddled with her budget director and her husband, Todd, an oil field worker who is not a state employee, and vetoed millions of dollars of legislative projects.

And four months ago, a Wasilla blogger, Sherry Whitstine, who chronicles the governor’s career with an astringent eye, answered her phone to hear an assistant to the governor on the line, she said.

“You should be ashamed!” Ivy Frye, the assistant, told her. “Stop blogging. Stop blogging right now!”

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Alaska Lawmakers Vote To Subpoena Todd Palin

Alaska lawmakers voted Friday to subpoena the husband of Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential candidate, in a move that transformed a messy state personnel issue into a national campaign controversy.

The lawmakers acted at the request of Stephen Branchflower, who is in the midst of an investigation into the governor's dismissal of the state's director of public safety.

Branchflower said he also wants to interview the governor, but omitted her from the 13-person list of subpoena targets he presented to the lawmakers overseeing his investigation.

Branchflower said Todd Palin is "such a central figure. ... I think one should be issued for him."

Thomas Van Flein, a private attorney hired to represent the governor, did not immediately return calls for comment.

Two Democrats and one Republican voted for the subpoenas, rejecting attempts by the other two Republicans on the panel to delay them until after the November election.

Sen. Charlie Huggins, a Republican from Palin's hometown of Wasilla, appeared in camouflage pants on a short break from moose hunting to cast his vote. He lamented the political maneuvering that he saw as trying to interfere with the investigation.

"I see all this duck-foot action under the water," Huggins said. "Let's just get the facts on the table.

The Legislature hired Branchflower to examine whether Palin ousted her public safety commissioner in July because he had refused to fire state trooper Mike Wooten. Wooten went through a messy divorce from Palin's sister, and the investigation essentially is looking at whether Palin used her power to try to settle a personal score.

One member of Palin's administration was caught on tape discussing personal information about Wooten, raising questions of how he knew those details.

The investigation -- known as "Troopergate" -- began before Palin was chosen as Sen. John McCain's running mate. Since then, Palin's supporters have argued that the investigation is politically motivated, and urged lawmakers to turn the matter over to the three-member State Personnel Board, which is appointed by the governor and charged with handling ethics complaints.

Palin has said she fired the commissioner, Walt Monegan, over disagreements about budget priorities. Monegan said he received repeated e-mails and phone calls from Palin, her husband and her staff expressing dismay over Wooten's continued employment.

Branchflower also asked for a subpoena for the phone records of one Palin administration official, Frank Bailey. Bailey was recorded calling an Alaska State Trooper lieutenant and discussing confidential information about Wooten, including his job application and worker's compensation claim. In a deposition taken by Palin's attorney, he testified that he never saw Wooten's file, but instead received the information from Todd Palin.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Someone tell Sarah...What exactly a VP does!

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Fact Check

Upon her arrival yesterday in Fairbanks, Governor Sarah Palin greeted a crowd of 2,000 people with a short speech. We've gone through the remarks and offer up some checks on facts and reality.


Palin said she took on politics as usual in Alaska, and made the claim that the "old oil monopoly, undue influence there that had control of our state, it's broken."


The only thing Palin did was raise oil taxes to one of the highest marginal tax rates in the world. She didn't break any monopoly as the only way you could possibly do that is by revoking their leases and gutting the ownership terms of the Trans Alaska Pipeline. Both of those actions would be illegal. She did nothing more than raise taxes.


"And the ethical standards that had led to closed doors and closed door dealings, self-interest, it's gone."


The ethics bill she passed had actually been proposed by Democrats in the legislature before she was even elected but didn't pass until the FBI raided several lawmakers office. Then and only then, did lawmakers who refused to take action under former governor Murkowski, agree to move the bill forward when Palin got elected and ethics had become too big of an issue to ignore.

In addition, her administration has hid behind a questionable claim of executive privilege and refused to release 78 pages of emails, totalling 1,100 communications even though many of these were copied to her husband who is not a member of the executive branch. And today, her administration has gone from telling Alaskans that they'd participate openly in the Monegan investigation to stalling and suddenly calling the investigation unconstitutional.


Palin said people around the nation are saying "thank you, thank you Alaska," when they hear about the natural gas pipeline from the North Slope.


The governor has completely over sold the pipeline plan she passed through the legislature. What the governor's gas pipeline plan does is grant $500 million to a Canadian firm to file paperwork without having the means to actually build the pipeline. Not only is there no guarantee it will be constructed by the Canadian firm, but their CEO has said repeatedly that they cannot order one piece of steel pipe until the major oil companies agree to pay the cost of the project.

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It's not clear or transparent, is this a Constitutional showdown?

Posted by Wesley Loy

Posted: September 11, 2008 - 11:55 am

From Wesley Loy in Anchorage –

Tomorrow morning we’ll see a big event in the ongoing Troopergate investigation and the growing clash between the governor’s office and the Legislature.

The House and Senate judiciary committees are meeting in Anchorage, and members might vote to issue subpoenas to compel members of Gov. Sarah Palin’s administration – but not the governor herself – to go for interviews with the Legislature’s investigator, Steve Branchflower.

But this week, the state Department of Law – representing Department of Administration employees – threatens in this seven-page letter to go to court to block the subpoenas, thus widening the conflict to all three branches of government.

The letter is signed by Michael Barnhill, senior assistant to Attorney General Talis Colberg, and is addressed to state Sen. Kim Elton, the Juneau Democrat who heads the legislative panel that initiated the Troopergate investigation.

Among its points:

• The governor is basically the boss over all executive branch employees, and she and her staff can legally look at confidential employee personnel files “in the course and scope of their official duties.”

A central question in the Troopergate case, of course, is whether the governor or her staff improperly perused personnel and other files of state Trooper Mike Wooten, who was involved in a rough divorce from Palin’s sister.

“At this point, the Department of Law knows of no evidence that suggests that any Department of Administration employees violated the State Personnel Act in handling Trooper Wooten’s personnel file,” the letter says.

• The letter accuses Anchorage Democratic Sen. Hollis French, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman and “project director” for the Legislature’s Troopergate investigation, of making biased media remarks and suggesting state employees might even face criminal prosecution.

• The letter says that, even though legislators have said Branchflower’s investigation will wrap up by Oct. 10 rather than the end of October as originally planned, that’s still suspiciously close to the Nov. 4 election, in which Palin is standing for vice president.

The letter, which drops references to McCarthyism, “secret depositions” and “unchecked investigative enthusiasm,” ends on a note of questioning the legitimacy of the Legislature’s investigation.

“Bluntly and to the point, we think there is a legitimate concern that this investigation is no longer being conducted in a fair manner – and therefore is potentially violative of Alaska’s constitutional due process safeguards,” Barnhill’s letter says, adding:

“The eyes of the nation have now turned upon us.”

the real Constitutional issue

is whether voters in the United States have the right to be informed of a VP candidate's illegal activities and unethical actions -before they vote in November.

That's what this is all about -preventing the nation from seeing the real dirt on Palin and her two-bit staff conducted themselves on the Wooten affair.

I think it at the very least violates the spirit of the Right to Vote -when you use the court system to prevent full disclosure to the voting public.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

America, Sarah Palin Is still under Investigation

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Questions for Palin

This week, she'll finally emerge from her protective shell

Published: September 8th, 2008 10:04 PM
Last Modified: September 8th, 2008 11:37 AM

There's no polite way to say it: Sarah Palin has been hiding out from hard questions. It took 10 days from when John McCain announced his pick until the McCain campaign agreed to schedule Palin an unscripted interview with a serious journalist.

ABC landed the big "get" with Palin. She'll talk to Charlie Gibson of "Good Morning America" later this week.

McCain's camp has handled their vice-presidential pick like some celebrity who will only deign to give an interview if conditions are favorable. McCain campaign manager Rick Davis told Fox News Sunday, Palin would take questions "when we think it's time and when she feels comfortable doing it."

Palin has accused Barack Obama of being a me-first celebrity candidate for president. At least he has been facing media questions for the past 18 months.

Here are some of the questions Palin should be answering, for Alaskans and the rest of the country:

• You present yourself as a Republican maverick who took on your own party's corrupt political establishment. In November's election, your party is running an indicted U.S. Senator, Ted Stevens, who is awaiting trial on charges he accepted more than $250,000 of unreported gifts from the state's most powerful lobbyist. Will you vote for his opponent? Will you urge Alaskans to help you change Washington and vote him out of office? If not, why not?

• Sen. Ted Stevens' trial is still pending; he has declined to say whether he would accept a pardon from President Bush before Bush leaves office in January. Do Alaska voters deserve an answer to that question before they cast their vote for or against Stevens in November? What is your position on a president pardoning a public official before a jury has ruled on guilt or innocence?

• Alaska Congressman Don Young appears to have won his Republican primary, even though you endorsed his opponent. Will you vote for your fellow Republican Don Young, who has spent over $1 million on legal fees without telling his constituents what sort of legal trouble he is in?

• Why have you reneged on your earlier pledge to cooperate with the Alaska Legislature's investigation into Troopergate? Are you going to be accounable as you told the Alaskan people you would?

• In spring of 2004, the Daily News reported that you cited family considerations in deciding not to try for the U.S. Senate: "How could I be the team mom if I was a U.S. senator?" What was different this time as you decided to run for vice president?

• As governor of Alaska, you have not pushed for laws or regulations that put your personal views on abortion, same-sex marriage and creationism into public policy. As vice president, will you push to outlaw abortion, restrict same-sex marriage and require the teaching of creationism?

• If you were a fully qualified vice-presidential candidate from the get-go, why did you wait more than 10 days to face reporters?

• McCain spokesman Rick Davis told Fox News the media didn't show you enough "deference." How much deference do you expect to get from Vladimir Putin or Hugo Chavez?

• You have said victory is in sight in Iraq. In July 2007, when you visited Kuwait, you said, "I'm not going to judge the surge." In the March 2007 issue of Alaska Business Monthly, you were asked about the surge and quoted saying:

"I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq. . . . While I support our president, Condoleezza Rice and the administration, I want to know that we have an exit plan in place."

Define "victory" in Iraq? What is the exit plan?

BOTTOM LINE: The nation deserves to hear Palin's unfiltered answers to serious questions. She wants to be your VP. It's not really what she is going to say that should really matter- It's what she has done and the incompetence behind it.

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