Palin’s Neiman Marcus Pants on Fire?

8 11 2008

Think waaaay back to November 3rd…I know it seems like a lifetime ago, and another era. In many respects it was another era. The 2008 election will go down in history, and we were all there, drinking it in as it happened. Nobody feels like looking backward. And that’s just what those who released the report from the Personnel Board’s investigation into Palin’s ethical conduct in the Troopergate scandal are counting on.  Their report is old news.  It’s sooooo pre-election.  Let’s just move along…nothing to see here.

You’ll recall that Palin initiated this investigation of herself, into her own actions, by a board that reports to her, and whom she can fire…..and the report found her innocent! This report conflicts with the ‘other’ investigation by the Alaska State Legislature’s bipartisan Legislative Council. They found her guilty of violating the state executive ethics act. I remember this well, as the giant green bound copy of that report has been sitting on my desk since October 10th.  Here’s the exact wording:

Finding Number One:  For the reasons explained in section IV of this report, I find that Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act.  Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) provides”

“The legislature reaffirms that each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust.”

The not-so-coincidental timing that released the Personnel Board’s contrary “Palin is innocent” finding on November 3rd, meant that headlines on election day in Alaska and elsewhere proclaimed Palin’s exoneration of wrongdoing. How very beneficial for her.

So now that election day is past, it’s time to revisit that slippery little event that snuck past us right before the election.

There’s a lot to cover, and these two Troopergate reports contradict each other in multiple ways. So, rather than to overload our poor brains that are still recovering from the frenzy of the election season, let’s just look at one for now.

The question at hand: Did Palin, and/or her staff inappropriately apply pressure to then Commissioner of Public Safety Walt Monegan to fire her ex-brother-in-law Alaska State Trooper Mike Wooten? And was the reason that Monegan subsequently lost his job at least in part because he didn’t fire Wooten?

Commissioner Monegan testified under oath that the Governor called him in January 2007 to talk about Trooper Wooten.

Sarah Palin denied, under oath, that the conversation occurred.

<<<LOUD FIRE ALARM SOUND>>>

One doesn’t need to be a great legal mind to realize that if two people are questioned about the same thing, and both are under oath, and each one contradicts the other one….then….somebody is lying. And when you lie under oath, that’s known as perjury.  And perjury is a crime.  (ominous chord played on giant pipe organ)

Furthermore, although Todd Palin acknowledges talking to Monegan about Trooper Wooten, he states, and Governor Palin concurs that she had no knowledge of this.  And Petumenos tells us if the Governor says it, and her husband says it, then that’s good enough for him.  Case closed.

Only one problem.  There’s the matter of a little email to one Commissioner Monegan.  It is dated February 7, 2007, shortly after that aforementioned phone call that did, or didn’t happen, depending on who you believe.  In this email, Palin states to Monegan”

I know you know I’ve experienced a lot of frustration with this issue.  I know Todd’s even expressed to you a lot of concern about our family’s safety…”

Hmmmm.  So…if we believe the Governor about not talking to Monegan about the Wooten issue, then how does she know that Monegan knows….and if she didn’t know about Todd talking to Monegan, then how does she know that Todd has expressed concern to Monegan.

<<<<ANOTHER FIRE ALARM SOUND>>>>

One of the options that could have been exercised by the Personnel Board is that after the investigation, they had discovered “probable cause” to believe that there may have been a violation of the State Executive Branch Ethics Act.  This acknowledgment would have resulted in further investigation to determine if any violation had occured.  One would think that the above situation would be enough to indicate “probable cause.”

Not so, says independent investigator Tim Petumenos.  As a matter of fact, the report completely ignored the email. (Mental picture of Tim Petumenos sticking his fingers in his ears going LALALALALALALA!)

With all these alarm bells going off, you’d think someone would be paying attention.  And this is only scratching the surface.  Stay tuned.





Possible Investigation of Criminal Witness Tampering in Troopergate!

20 10 2008

Well, well, well. Here’s yet another subplot in the saga that is Troopergate. Remember how witnesses, including state employees, Todd Palin and Sarah Palin herself agreed to cooperate fully with the Legislative investigation of Troopergate? If you don’t remember, it’s because that was beFORE August 29th, when Palin was selected to be John McCain’s running mate. It was a whole different world back then. That’s when this investigation made sense to Alaskans, and when we believed the word of our Governor. Now? Not so much.

Ten witnesses, including the Governor’s husband Todd, defied subpoenas to testify before the Legislative Council. When did this mysterious change of heart occur?

Once again, we need to rely on the courage and conviction of the bipartisan Legislative Council, and the likes of Representatives Les Gara to keep the Governor and her administration (including Attorney General Talis Colberg) honest. After the flock of McCain lawyers descended on our sleepy little hamlet, all the rules changed. Now, Les Gara and Audie Holloway want to know WHY. Good question.

ANCHORAGE — Today an Alaska legislator called on the State’s Attorney General to appoint an independent investigator to look into possible criminal witness tampering by McCain-Palin campaign staff in Alaska. Rep. Gara’s call came at the suggestion of the Director of the Alaska State Troopers, [Col. Audie Holloway], who called the potential of witness tampering matter “serious.”

But, as we know, these witnesses did eventually testify in writing, just days before the Legislative Council released the findings of Independent Investigator Stephen Branchflower. Does this make it all better? No.

Their later decision to submit to written questions, after failing to show up for their subpoenas, doesn’t cure this violation, or any criminal conduct by any person who attempted to induce those witnesses from showing for their subpoenas. Complying with the law after breaking it doesn’t excuse a criminal violation. If any person attempted to induce a witness to fail to show for a subpoena, that witness’ later cooperation, after failing to show for the subpoena, doesn’t cure the criminal conduct. (from attached letter to AG Talis Colberg from Rep. Les Gara)

Talis Colberg, who is under considerable public pressure to resign as Attorney General for how he handled these subpoenas, has something new on his list of things that won’t go away. Namely:

Alaska Statute 11.56.545 –

“(a)Tampering with a witness in the second degree: A person commits the crime of tampering with a witness in the second degree if the person knowingly induces or attempts to induce a witness to be absent from an official proceeding, other than a judicial proceeding, to which the witness has been summoned. (b) Tampering with a witness in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor.

AS 11.56.540 has similar elements, and is a felony.
The ball is in the court of the Department of Law.

Letter from Les Gara to Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg: 10202008-witness-tampering-independent-investigator

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Troopergate I Shares Documents With Troopergate II

18 10 2008
Sen. President Lyda Green and the Giant Binder of Confidentiality.

Sen. President Lyda Green and the Giant Binder of Confidentiality.

Think of it as a changing of the guard.  The first Troopergate investigation (the one from the Alaska Legislature) has concluded, finding that although Palin was within her legal rights to fire Walt Monegan, the Commissioner of Public Safety, she DID abuse her power and violate the state’s ethics code. 

The new guard is another investigation, prompted by Palin herself, from the Personnel Board.  Presumably Palin went to the extraordinary lengths of filing an ethics complaint against herself because she felt that the Personnel Board would be a friendlier investigative body.  This may or may not be so.  Crackerjack Anchorage prosecutor (and Democrat) Tim Petumenos has been hired by the board as the special investigator. 

Petumenos has asked the Legislative Council to turn over the confidential information from their special investigator, Stephen Branchflower.  The Legislative Council made public a 263-page tome with the snappy title: “Report of the Investigation of the Circumstances Surrounding the Termination of Former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan and Potential Abuses of Power and/or Improper Actions by Members of Governor Sarah Palin’s Administration, Volume I, Public Report.”  It’s Volume 2 we’re talking about.

Volume 2 makes Volume 1 look like a flimsy paperback, and contains information utilized to come to the conclusions that were stated in the public report. Everything in Volume 2, is not for public consumption.   I didn’t even know they made binders that big.

So, meanwhile, the Personnel Board and its investigation, which operates out of the public eye, marches on.  We don’t know when they will be finished, we don’t know when they will release the report, and we don’t know what the report will say.  But every once in a while, like a surfacing whale,  we catch a glimpse of this mysterious investigation, before it sinks out of sight again.  And we wait.

Media frenzy as the Legislative Council Releases the Branchflower Report.

Media frenzy as the Legislative Council Releases the Branchflower Report.

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Through the Looking Glass With Sarah Palin.

12 10 2008

If there’s anyone else left out there who doesn’t believe that Sarah Palin can look you in the eye and tell you black is white, I have a present for you. Here is the transcript of a five minute conference call with Sarah Palin, Meg Stapleton, the Anchorage Daily News, and local TV stations KTVA, and KTUU.  The journalists got one question each with no follow up.

I’ve been struggling to find the right terminology for this.  She has jumped the shark.  She has landed on Fantasy Island.  She has slipped through the looking glass.  She’s Queen of Denial.  She has become the Head of Orwell’s Ministry of Truth…  choose whichever metaphor works for you.

Here is the transcript of Palin’s interview by these  journalists, after the Branchflower Report on the Troopergate investigation was released, stating that she had abused her power as governor.   As a matter of fact, let’s review Finding Number One as it is written:

“For the reasons explained in section IV of the report, I find that Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.11(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act. 

“The legislature reaffirms that each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust.”

The second thing we should review before joining Sarah Through the Looking Glass, is that the Legislative Council, made up of TEN Republicans and FOUR Democrats voted unanimously to begin the investigation, and unanimously to release the results of the investigation. Ten Republicans, four democrats.  Remember that, because it comes up later.

Alright.  So here is the transcript.  The emphasis is mine, and used on those passages that defy reality, and/or leave me speechless.

Palin: Hey, thank you so, Meg. Thank you so much. Thank you also to our local reporters up there in Alaska. Even hearing your names make me feel like I’m right there with you at home. It’s good to get to speak with you. Let me talk a little bit about the Tasergate issue if you guys would let me and, Meg, you want me to just jump right on in there?

Stapleton: Sure governor, go ahead.

Palin: OK cool.

Well, I’m very very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing … any hint of any kind of unethical activity there. Very pleased to be cleared of any of that. Todd did what anyone would have done given this state trooper’s very, very troubling behavior and his dangerous threats against our family. Todd did what I think any Alaskan would do.

And he, Todd did what the state’s Department of Law Web site tells anyone to do if they have a concern about a state trooper. And that’s you go to the commissioner and you express your concern. And Todd did what our personal detail asked him to do. Bob Cockrell early on as I was elected and was asked are there any threats against ya, and Todd brought the concern as I did to Commissioner Monegan about the state trooper’s threats. He did what any – I think — any rational person would do so again, nothing to apologize there with Todd’s actions and again very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing.

(Stapleton invites the first question).

ADN: Governor, finding No.1 on the report was that you abused your power by violating state law. Do you think you did anything wrong at all in this Troopergate case?

Palin: Not at all and I’ll tell you, it, I think that you’re always going to ruffle feathers as you do what you believe is in the best interest of the people whom you are serving. In this case I knew that I had to have the right people in the right position at the right time in this cabinet to best serve Alaskans, and Walt Monegan was not the right person at the right time to meet the goals that we had set out in our administration. So no, not having done anything wrong, and again very much appreciating being cleared of any legal wrongdoing or unethical activity at all.

ADN: Have you read the whole report? (No response; Stapleton invites question from KTVA reporter).

KTVA-Channel 11: … The report that came out yesterday, do you think that the end result is partisan?

Palin: Yeah, I did think it did turn into a partisan circus to tell you the truth. Yes I did. You know from Day One it’s been the Personnel Board that clearly laid out in state statute there — Personnel Board deals with any issue of question regarding a governor, a lieutenant governor or an attorney general in the state of Alaska. What this legislative investigation — quote unquote — turned into was a political circus.

KTUU-Channel 2: Governor, so good to hear from you. Do you approve of the way that your campaign has handled themselves here in Alaska? We’ve had a lot of people voice concerns about what they call attacks of good people in our state while you are away.

Palin: Well I haven’t heard of any attacks on good people in Alaska from our campaign. If you have specifics there, maybe I could answer specifically. But no, in John McCain’s mission here, in taking the high road, as you’re going to see too with a lot of unfair shots he has taken in this campaign with some of his opponents’ supporters, McCain and I taking the high road, being positive. I wouldn’t support nor would I condone taking shots at any good Alaskans.

KTUU-Channel 2: Let me answer your question since you asked for specifics.

Palin: Sure.

KTUU-Channel 2: Walt Monegan was called “rogue.” How do you feel about that?

Palin: Rogue isn’t a negative term when you consider that in a cabinet you need a team effort going forward with a governor’s agenda. And our agenda has been to find efficiencies in every department and make sure that we are serving the people of Alaska to the best of our ability given the resources that we have. And remember I fought very hard to increase funding for state troopers so that we could fill positions there and goals not being met that included not being able to recruit and retain all the state troopers that I wanted to best serve Alaska. That could be characterized I think as a cabinet member who – it’s not a negative term I think — being rogue in terms of not meeting those goals.

Just for fun, let’s check out the definition of “rogue.”  *clears throat*

Rogue. Adjective.

  1. Vicious and solitary. Used of an animal, especially an elephant.
  2. Large, destructive, and anomalous or unpredictable: a rogue wave; a rogue tornado.
  3. Operating outside normal or desirable controls: “How could a single rogue trader bring down an otherwise profitable and well-regarded institution?”

He’s a vicious, solitary elephant who doesn’t meet his goals…in a GOOD way.

So let’s recap.  The report states she has abused her power as governor, and she’s really glad she’s done nothing wrong.  Todd did what any “Alaskan” would do.  She thinks the mostly Republican legislative council has turned into a partisan circus, but she hasn’t heard anything about attacks on anyone in Alaska from her campaign.  The McCain campaign is taking the high road and being positive. And being a rogue cop isn’t a bad thing.  Any questions?

If you want to read Lisa Demer’s full account, and hear the interview in the Governor’s own voice:  CLICK HERE.  That way you can just, you know, hear her talkin’ to the people, and bein’ what she is, also, and gettin’ her statement out there and rufflin’ feathers so as to serve the people of Alaska there also.

This must be the sound it makes when a house of cards collapses.






Countdown to Truth – Sarah Proclaims Own Innocence! Real Report Due Out Tomorrow.

9 10 2008

More developments in the Troopergate story.

Palin has become very fond of the preemptive strike.  Once again, in a less than shocking pre-emptive power play, Governor Palin’s Personnel Board has concluded Palin’s investigation of herself.  That’s right, she decided to just jump right in there and investigate herself, because the bipartisan Legislative investigation just couldn’t be impartial.  Like her.

So, drumroll please……Palin has declared herself INNOCENT!  She’s done nothing wrong!  Boy that was a nail-biter. 

But now, we leave Sarah’s Fantasy Land and come back to reality.  After overcoming every hurdle, every stonewalling tactic and every flimsy legal challenge imaginable, the report is in the hands of Legislators.   Tomorrow, the Alaska Legislative Council will decide what to do with the results of the real investigation – the one that John McCain and Sarah Palin would rather you not see.  For weeks now, Special Investigator Stephen Branchflower has been investigating Palin’s firing of the Commissioner of Public Safety, Walt Monegan to see if she abused her power as governor to fire him because he, in turn, would not fire her ex-brother in law because of a family squabble.  Questions were also asked about the Palins’ role in what appears to be interference in a workers compensation claim filed by the ex-brother-in-law, Trooper Michael Wooten.

But before the report is released, the Legislative Council must vote to do so.  There is EXTREME pressure coming from very high in the Republican Party to keep this report from coming out.  If this report is released to the public tomorrow, it will be because of the principled bravery of a majority of members of the Legislative Council, particularly the Republicans who will have had to stand up to their own party.  And that’s where we stand.

Meanwhile, on a lighter note…

This brings us to our final installment of the Countdown to Truth, and the Top 10 Reasons the report should be released:

10: Maybe once the report comes out people will stop naming their pitbulls “Sarah” and making them wear lipstick.  Because that is just all kinds of wrong.

 

 

9: It will give Meg Stapleton the opportunity to stop lying about Walt Monegan and Troopergate, and to start lying about why Sarah Palin got her ass handed to her in the debate.

 

8: If it doesn’t come out then what will Alaska Progressive bloggers write about all weekend?

 

7: This investigation has cost Alaskans $100,000. The last time Alaskans spent that kind of money with nothing to show for it, was on exotic dancers and cocaine back in the oil drenched 1980’s.

 

6: Because the McCain campaign does not want the report to be made public, and when was the last time ANYBODY told Alaskans not to do something and we listened?

 

5: Once this report is finally out we can all stop pretending to like Dan Fagan.

 

4: The report will undoubtedly convince the Palins that they need to return home where surely they will be inspired to add yet another offspring to their brood, perhaps this one to be named “Phlegm Wingnut Palin”?

 

3: It will allow Alaskans to stop focusing on this distraction and get back to watching for Russians trying to come over the border so that we can shoo them back to where they belong.

 

2: Once it is released perhaps it can be given as reading material to poor little Bristol Palin who apparently is secreted, along with Cathy Baldwin-Johnson and hockey stud Levi Johnston, in a secret vault deep under the White House, or in a bear cache in the wilds of Wasilla, until her mother’s doomed run for Vice President comes to an end.

 

1: It will clear the name of Walt Monegan and make his mother, possibly the sweetest woman in Alaska , very happy.

 So this is the last day to send your emails urging that the report be released.  The Legislative Council will meet tomorrow at 9:00am Alaska time (1:00pm EST, 10:00am PST).  At this point it really could go either way.  Great forces are at work here, and we’ll have to just wait and see.  Thanks to all who have been helping from near and far.

Email addresses are in the comments.

 (h/t to Gryphen, our Top 10 Guy)

 





Alaska Dept. of Law Gets Truth for Lunch! Do They Want Fries With That?

1 10 2008

Alaskans for Truth will bring the petition demanding Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg’s resignation to the Department of Law.

When: TODAY, Wednesday, October 1 at 11:30am

Where: On the sidewalk outside the Atwood Building (550 W. 7th Avenue, downtown Anchorage)

Haven’t signed the petition? Click Below. We will be accepting signatures from in-state and out-of-state residents until further notice. The point is to make our presence known and our voices heard.

SIGN THE PETITION






Palin Investigation vs. Palin Investigation. The Basics.

23 09 2008

You may be hearing about how Sarah Palin has decided to cooperate with the Troopergate investigation. Most people who haven’t been following the ins and outs of this whole sordid affair, may think that this is a good thing. They may think she’s had a change of heart. They may have heard something about another investigation, but believe it to be ‘partisan’ and a Democratic witch hunt. Well, it’s time to leave the witch hunting to the pastor who prayed her into the governor’s mansion, and explain exactly what’ s going on with these two, very different, investigations. Here are the basics:

Investigation #1: The Alaska State Legislature/The Legislative Council

First, it’s important to know that the investigative powers of the Legislature are plenary. This means they can investigate anything they want, whenever they want, if they vote to do it. Period. This investigation began with a unanimous vote of 8 Republicans and 4 Democrats. This group unanimously chose Democrat Hollis French to direct and organize the investigation because he was the right person for the job, and they all agreed. He recruited former Alaska prosecutor Stephen Branchflower who was living out of state, to come back to do the investigation. The council unanimously approved him too, because he’s very very good, and very very impartial. Otherwise, the vote wouldn’t have been unanimous, would it?

Palin herself supported this investigation and pledged to cooperate fully….until August 29th, the day she was tapped by John McCain as his VP pick. At this point, the investigation mysteriously became ‘political’, ‘partisan’ and a witch hunt.

The storm rages, and Branchflower soldiers on, conducting interviews, and preparing a report. The report will be finished by October 10th. Have you marked your calendar? I have.

Investigation #2: The Personnel Board

The personnel board is made up of three people, all Republicans, all governor-appointed, and all working for Palin. She can fire them at any time.

The McCain campaign hoped that after they started calling the first investigation “tainted”, the State Legislature would drop the ball. Palin and her newly acquired legal staff attempted to end the Legislative investigation, and begin an investigation by the aforementioned Personnel Board.

For this board to begin an investigation, there first had to be a complaint filed against Palin. So, Palin filed a complaint…..against herself. Later, she asked that this complaint be dismissed stating it was groundless. Now she’s changed her mind and says she will cooperate with the board that she asked to investigate her.

I promised the basics, and there they are. There are MANY subplots, and twists to the Troopergate story. I’ve tried to tease these out in other posts and will continue to do so in the future. So, as tempted as I am to go on, I won’t.

The bottom line:

Bipartisan, unanimously endorsed, Palin-sanctioned investigation by the Alaska State Legislature

vs.

Republican, 3-member board, governor appointed, working directly for Palin, McCain sanctioned investigation.

You make the call.





Todd Palin Refuses to Testify? Shocking! Shocking, I say!

18 09 2008

Ed O’Callaghan, erstwhile top terrorism prosecutor from Washington D.C., now holed up in Anchorage Alaska giving legal advice in the Troopergate investigation, announced that the “First Dude” will not be cooperating.  He will ignore his subpoena, O’Callaghan says, because he no longer believes the investigation is “legitimate.”   Why?  Didn’t say.  It must have something to do with that hideously partisan unanimous vote by a council of 8 Republicans and 4 Democrats.  Those damned Democrats wielding their minority power all over the place, forcing consensus!  Who do they think they are? (Big red “Illegitimate” stamp slams down on document) Those buncha <grumble grumble grumble>…..

Todd, along with other witnesses, can stall without penalty for months, pushing this investigation well past election day.  To bring contempt charges, which are punishable by a fine up to $500, or up to six months in jail, the full  Legislature must be in session.  That happens after Christmas.

Surely there will be other nuggets of intrigue to come, but few doubt at this point that the final chapter of the Troopergate tale will be told until after November 4. (puts reading glasses away, and closes the Troopergate book.  For now.)  The damage that this stonewalling has had on Sarah Palin’s “image,” that the out-of-state lawyers and the McCain campaign were trying so fervently to craft, has yet to be measured.





Palin’s Clear and Transparent Stonewall.

11 09 2008

Well, she’s told us right from the beginning what to expect. When Palin ran for governor, she touted how her new leadership would be “clear and transparent”. We’d had it with corruption, and we’d had it with her predecessor, Frank Murkowski. Palin was squeaky clean. She was new, she actually discussed ethics, and she promised us that business as usual would be business no more. The Good Ol’ Boys were in her crosshairs and they’d better start worrying.

Then came Troopergate. People started feeling uneasy. What was going on here? We needed to give her the benefit of the doubt. She was the reformer, Murkowski-slayer, and ethical Wonder Woman from Wasilla! There had to be more than met the eye. This Wooten character must be pure evil, and she was justified. But, as in the case with all scandals, there came a steady drip…drip…drip… of new information. All sorts of things started surfacing, like emails, and conversations that, according to Palin, never happened. Palin looked into the camera lens and into the eyes of every Alaskan and said, “Hold me accountable.” “I welcome the investigation.” That’s why we liked her. Open, honest, transparent and accountable. What’s not to love?

The bipartisan legislature took her at her word and started talking about an investigation. Then Palin assured us that, really, no investigation was necessary. She’d be happy to answer questions without the investigation. She looked a little panicked. The legislature voted unanimously for an investigation.

THEN Palin asked Talis Colberg, the Attorney General to start talking to anyone who might know anything about “troopergate” before Stephen Branchflower, the legislature’s investigator got there. A little bit of preemptive sleuthing so she’d know what to expect. That’s when people who were paying attention started to go ballistic.

Enter McCain and the gang. Palin gets a lawyer. The lawyer says the investigation is unconstitutional. The lawyer says the players are biased.

That’s where we were yesterday.

Now we’re looking at seven members of the Palin administration who are facing subpoena’s because they have refused to testify. At least, that’s what we think. We’ll know tomorrow. Thats when the House and Judiciary committees are meeting in Anchorage to make decisions about the subpoenas.

But this week, the state Department of Law – representing Department of Administration employees – threatens in a 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.

So, to all those naysayers who say that Palin is no longer clear and transparent, I say, yes she most certainly is.

Now… the first details of Palin’s interview with Gibson are reaching Alaska….I’ll be back.





Sarah Palin’s Vetting Problem.

31 08 2008

On my first post that surreal morning when I awoke to the news of Sarah Palin’s unlikely choice as VP candidate, before I had even made a cup of coffee, or rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, I said, “Didn’t McCain hire a fact checker?”  Was she vetted….at all?

It’s been over 48 hours, and now….seriously…was she vetted at all?  The possibility that the answer is no, is almost inconceivable.  But we Alaskans have found out that background checks are sometimes optional when hiring important government officials.  Just look at Palin’s unlikely and inappropriate choice of Chuck Koppto replace Dept. of Public Safety Chief, Walt Monegan, the center of the “Troopergate” controversy.

As soon as Kopp appeared before the public….literally on day one, something smelled fishy.  The revelation of a previous sexual harassment charge and subsequent reprimand and reassignment reared its ugly head. And Alaskans were left asking ourselves, “Didn’t Palin vet this guy?”  If she did, obviously not well enough.  Kopp’s explanation, after his now iconic denial, “I am not a sex harasser!” was that no one had asked him, so he didn’t volunteer the information…figuring that everyone already knew.

So, is it possible that since no one askedSarah Palin if she was in the middle of an ongoing ethics investigation, she just didn’t feel obligated to volunteer that information?  I mean, no one ASKed her if she was, or what the investigation might find, or if there were any other skeletons in her closet that might come out and start dancing in front of the national media.   I mean all you’d have to do is read the Anchorage Daily News and there it all is.  They obviously knew and it didn’t bother THEM…so….why mention it?  And sitting in the private jet, flying out to accept the nomination, did she think “Oooo.  It’ll sound really good if I said I stopped that Bridge to Nowhere!  I’ll say THAT. No one will check, I bet.”

Because, now, a scant two days after the nomination, the “gates” are already starting to swing open:  Troopergate, Bridgegate, and now Babygate.  Babygate?  I’ve stayed away from this one because, frankly, I don’t know anything for sure, and I don’t want to speculate about the smarmiest of ‘gates’ yet.  I’ll leave that to the professionals at the National Enquirer.  The rumors, though,  say one of two things:  either Sarah’s new baby is actually NOT her baby at all, but her 17-year old daughter Bristol’s baby, or the new baby is hers, but Bristol, a senior in high school is now pregnant.  Ugh, either way.

If the first case is true, then the grandma governor has been perpetrating a blatant lie on her constituents, and now the world.  If the second is true, then what 44-year old woman in her right mind would have travelled so late in her pregnancy and after her water broke and labor had begun, delivered a speech in Texas, boarded an Alaska Airlines flight with a stop-over in Seattle and bypassed the two main Anchorage Hospitals that are minutes from the airport to deliver in the local hospital near her home, almost an hour away by car.  In either case, bad judgement.

But now the cleanup crew has started.  Palin’s praise of the Obama energy plan that was on her website?  Scrubbed.  Photos on the website during the time period she was supposedly to have been pregnant? Allegedly scrubbed too.  John McCain’s organized vetting team?  Supposedly on their way to Alaska right now.  (Note to McCain staffers:  Vet FIRST…it works out better that way.)  The National Enquirer?  Supposedly all over this already. Photos of the pregnant (or not) Palin are circulating everywhere. One thing is certain, the rumor mill has started, and there’s no getting this toothpaste back in the tube.

And if it’s true that Palin did not undergo a vetting process, then what are we all to think of a presidential candidate, the oldest ever, with a history of cancer, choosing a running mate he had spoken to only once before offering her the nomination, and not even vetting this candidate?  If this is true, then the choice was not ‘bold’ or ‘exciting’ or ‘a maverick choosing a maverick’.  It demonstrates not just poor judgement, but recklessness.

Keep watching because the Palin onion is going to be peeled in the national media in the coming weeks, layer by agonizing layer.  Welcome to Veepgate.

UPDATE:  Press releases of Palin’s response to Obama’s energy plan still available HERE (Hat tip to Clever Else)