In a new survey conducted September 20-22, Ivan Moore Research finds Sarah Palin's positive-negative rating in Alaska taking a real hit, for the first time since Palin was elected in November 2006.Â The survey was conducted with 500 likely voters in the State of Alaska, for a margin of error of 4.4%.Â The track of the last five Palin ratings is as follows, along with a comparison point from January 2008:
July 18-22, 2008
July 30-31, 2008
August 9-12, 2008
August 30-September 2, 2008
September 20-22, 2008
The mid-July pollÂ was fielded just after the Trooper Wooten controversy broke.Â The positive rating of 76% was down from previous measures in the 80's.Â Despite negative press from the TroopergateÂ issue,Â the subsequent three polls through the end of September showed Palin's positive rating steadily increasing, and her negative steadily dropping.Â But in the last three weeks, we've seen damage, with a swing of 14 points from her positive to her negative.
Breakdowns by party affiliation and political ideologyÂ for the last two surveys are illustrative of the internal dynamics:
August 30-September 2
No party/Other party
We're seeing the numbers cratering among ideological progressives and registered Democrats, probably indicative of theÂ impact of the harsher tone Palin hasÂ adopted on the national campaign trail, and the growing fallout from Troopergate.Â Damage is also significant among moderates and non-affiliated voters,Â whileÂ Republicans and conservatives continue to be almost universally positive.
It should be noted, of course, that a 68-27 is still a very satisfactory rating.Â But it appears the days of 80 percent approvals in Alaska are over.Craig Medred
The Associated Press is reporting today that "a sordid sideshow" could erupt at U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens's trial starting this week "over allegations that the FBI's key witness against Stevens had sex with an underage girl."
Jury selection is beginning today for the trial in which Stevens is accused of failing to report more than $250,000 in gifts, most of which came from the remodeling of his Girdwood, Alaska, home by former Alaska oil contractor Bill Allen, a convicted felon cooperating with the government in its corruption probe.
AlaskaDispatch.com reported last week that Allen, the government's star witness against Stevens, has become potentially tainted over allegations that he sexually abused two teenage girls years ago. The most recent accusations against Allen were reported by a young woman to Anchorage Police last month, spawning a sex-crimes investigation.
Here's what we said in our story last week:
Once a "Godfather" figure in Alaska's oil industry and a friend of Stevens's, Allen is under investigation for allegedly carrying on a sexual relationship with a teenage prostitute nine years ago, according to interviews with both police and the alleged victim. Late last year, Anchorage police reopened a separate teen-sex investigation against Allen but have since suspended that case.
A lawyer for Allen has denied the allegations against his client.
The claims threaten to taint the credibility of Allen, a star federal witness in the government's case against Stevens, who is accused of failing to disclose a quarter-million dollars in gifts he received from Allen and other friends. Lawyers defending Stevens have challenged federal prosecutors in recent weeks to turn over evidence related to any state criminal sex abuse or statutory rape investigations against Allen, according to a Sept. 9 court motion. In doing so, they are questioning whether the former oilman is receiving immunity from alleged sex crimes in return for his cooperation.
Allen has emerged as a central figure in a sweeping oil-political corruption scandal unfolding in Alaska. Last year, he pleaded guilty to bribery charges and agreed to help the Feds in their investigation in return for, among other things, a possibly reduced prison sentence and time to sell his oil-contracting firm, VECO Corp., which was purchased by a Denver-based firm last year for $380 million. Allen's cooperation has already helped federal prosecutors score two bribery convictions against state lawmakers, and the government is likely to call him to testify against Stevens.
Jury selection for Stevens's trial begins Monday in a Washington, D.C., federal court.
In late July, Stevens was charged with seven counts alleging that he failed to report more than $250,000 in gifts on his Senate disclosure forms, the bulk of which, the Feds claim, resulted from a major renovation of his Girdwood, Alaska, home overseen by Allen and VECO workers. Prosecutors say Stevens did not pay for all of the project's costs. He has pleaded not guilty.
The trial comes as the 84-year-old senator -- the longest-serving Senate Republican in history -- is enmeshed in the toughest re-election campaign of his career, running for a seventh term against Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, a Democrat. Meantime, national media have been fixated on Alaska since Gov. Sarah Palin joined Sen. John McCain as his vice-presidential running mate late last month. She's cast herself as an ethics reformist, vowing to clean up "good 'ol boy" politics in Washington.
The sex allegations dogging Allen are unrelated to Stevens's legal troubles. Still, criminal defense experts say the senator's lawyers could use the investigations to raise questions about Allen's credibility and any testimony he provides against Stevens. Federal prosecutors would argue back that Allen's problems have nothing to do with Stevens and should be kept from coming up in the trial.
"Prisons in America are populated by people who have been convicted by some pretty unsavory characters," said Ben Brafman, a well-known criminal defense lawyer based in New York. If the judge were to allow questioning of Allen about the sex investigations while on the witness stand, Brafman said, his lawyer might suggest he evoke his fifth-amendment privileges.
"The irony is that even if the allegations aren't true, there is no way to disprove them," Brafman said. "Either way, this is a person who comes off the witness stand who looks like damaged goods."
Stevens's lawyers and a spokeswoman at the U.S. Department of Justice declined interviews for this story.
Allegations could taint credibility
For more than a quarter-century, Bill Allen reigned as one of Alaska's most influential businessmen. Allen founded VECO in 1968 and grew it into the largest Alaska-based oilfield services business. He was heavily involved in politics, contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars to Alaska lawmakers sympathetic to his industry. Allen was so well-connected that he co-chaired the Alaska finance committee for the Bush-Cheney 2000 election campaign.
The latest sex case opened by police against Allen stems back to 1999, when he allegedly hired a prostitute in Midtown Anchorage. The alleged victim, identified in this story by her middle name, Marie, agreed to be interviewed by AlaskaDispatch.com in mid-August.
The 24-year-old woman subsequently reported her past relationship with Allen to Anchorage police, which detectives are now investigating, Lt. Paul Honeman, an Anchorage police spokesman, said Wednesday. Honeman declined to provide details about the ongoing investigation.
Marie told AlaskaDispatch.com that Allen was her main client from 1999 to 2001, when she was a prostitute between the ages of 15 and 17. Marie claims Allen paid her more than $20,000 in cash and gifts, including flying her to Alaska for sex when she was briefly living in Seattle. The age of consent in Alaska is 16. There is no statute of limitations for sex crimes involving children.
"He didn't want anybody knowing that we were seeing each other," said Marie, a single mother living in Anchorage. "He made me promise not to tell anybody because I was too young."
Bob Bundy, Allen's attorney, called Marie's allegation "untrue" in an email Wednesday. "My law firm engaged an investigator to find out who this person wasand what the nature of her outrageous and untrue charges were. This is all I have to say," Bundy said in his email.
It is the second time in less than 12 months that Allen has been investigated by local authorities for having sex with minors. In December, Anchorage police reopened a 2004 investigation in which Allen had been accused of sexually abusing the underage daughter of one of the workers on the Stevens' house project. Allen denied the charges through his lawyer at the time.
That case has become a hot-button issue among Stevens's lawyers because it was originally halted at the request of Frank Russo, an assistant U.S. Attorney in Anchorage. In a February interview, Russo said he asked local authorities to back off the investigation in spring 2004 to focus on a larger child sex-and-drug ring case. Federal agents have told AlaskaDispatch.com that they began investigating Allen in the corruption probe in December 2004, but that it was never connected to the police's sex case six months earlier.
Stevens's lawyers have asked for the government to disclose evidence on any state investigation of sexual abuse allegations involving Allen, including whether "it was quashed, why it was quashed, and when it was quashed," according to the Sept. 9 filing. The senator's lawyers said such information is relevant to Allen's credibility as a federal witness and could explain his motives for cooperating with the government.
"His cooperation with the government, and the nature of his testimony, may well be driven by a belief, whether justified or not, that his assistance to the government would guarantee him immunity or leniency in the state investigation," Robert Cary, a lawyer representing Stevens, wrote in recent court motion last week. "Such evidence would directly challenge his motives and credibility and thus must be produced."
â€˜It's all about the money'
In 1999, the year before Allen dispatched a crew of VECO employees to work on Stevens's house, Marie claims Allen began hiring her for sex. Marie sat down for an interview in August at a pizza parlor in South Anchorage, describing her childhood and how she ended up as a prostitute when she was still in her teens. She's lived most of her life in Anchorage, but her mother's side of the family hails from Good News Bay, a Yupik Eskimo village in western Alaska. Marie said her childhood was marred with hard times; an absent father and a mother who didn't pay much attention to her.
In 1999, she left her mom's home to live with a boyfriend. She said she soon took to the streets of Spenard, an Anchorage neighborhood, working as a prostitute. Her boyfriend acted as her pimp. She was 15, and based on photographs she provided of herself at the time, she looked it.
One night, near the corner of Spenard Road and 32nd Avenue, a white Land Rover pulled up alongside her. "I remember he rolled his window down and asked me if I wanted a ride. I jumped in," Marie said. "He asked me if I was a cop. I said â€˜no.'" She claims this was the beginning of a two-and a-half-year sexual relationship with Allen, who at the time was in his early 60s.
Marie, a hotel housekeeper, says she never intended to tell Anchorage police about Allen until this summer, when a co-worker told her she should report him to authorities. Ken Gage, a maintenance man at the same hotel and a former private criminal investigator trying to get back into the business, helped her because, "She's a good kid, a hard worker, and people like Bill Allen piss me off." Marie said she is considering filing a civil suit against Allen. Her attorney, Ken Roosa of Anchorage, declined comment.
Soon after they met in 1999, Marie alleges Allen became her main client, spending "more money on me than anyone else." The sex happened at Allen's home, a Midtown storage lot where he kept a camper, and in hotels, including the Anchorage Hilton in downtown, according to her account. Over time, she learned that Allen owned VECO Corp. "He told me he was the founder of VECO," she said.
In mid-2000, Marie moved to the Seattle area with her boyfriend, but she continued to see Allen. He paid for her to fly up to Anchorage, putting her up at the Hilton. "Every trip I came up here (Anchorage) on, I charged him $2,000," she said, "and on top of that, he would give me spending money." Marie also says Allen wired her money to a Western Union service in Everett, a city north of Seattle. Around that time, she turned 16, the age of consent.
Marie claims she can back up her allegations against Allen; two girls each joined in paid sex with her and Allen on separate occasions. One of the women hung up the phone on a reporter when asked about Allen. The other claimed she participated in sex with Allen and Marie in 2001 at his home near downtown Anchorage, but asked that her name not be published.
In 2001, Marie and Allen abruptly stopped seeing one another. "One of the times he picked me up from the Hilton ... and he asked me, â€˜Is this all about the money, or do we have a relationship going on?'" Marie said.
Allen, a successful, competitive and fearless businessman in America's oil province, was dumbstruck when Marie rejected his feelings for her.
"After I told him, â€˜It's all about the money,' he got pretty upset," Marie said. "I think that's how things went sour."Tony Hopfinger
Governor Palin wasn't being especially firm, decisive, committed, or even hubristic when she reportedly didn't hesitate to accept the invitation to run as a vice-presidential candidate. She was simply following the elemental forces created by an Alaskan upbringing.Scott Woodham
She has already demonstrated a failure of judgment by getting pregnant at an age when the odds of having a down syndrome child are 90 to 1. She has already failed the most critical judgment issue any human being can be faced with. As with G.W. Bush she comes to public office with a resounding record of failure.
i'm dying to know what the newspaper said about obama! Â you know, since, unlike palin who's running for vice president, obama is running for the office of president and is less experienced than palin. why did you leave out those opinions? Â hmm... better luck next election,
terry s. / campbell, ca
Since the republicans started the whole "family values" issue is it not fair to discuss how a mother of 4 minor children plans on having the time and energy for them when she is a heart beat away from shouldering the HUGE responsibility of the president of the US?Â I am not suggesting that a woman's place is at home, but should a woman who just gave birth to a Down syndrome child and has 3 other minor children be put in a position of such demands?Â If a woman chooses to have so many children, how can she give the time and energy to each child that only a mother can, if she is trying to handle the toughest job in the world?Â Are these the type of "family values" that republicans talk about?Â If a woman chooses to have so many children, does she not owe them the time and energy that each child deserves?Â Does not a special child require much more time and energy than other children?Â How can McCain say that this person is the most qualified in the entire nation to succeed him if something should happen to him?Â Â Is it not incumbent on the nominee to pick the most qualified person to be VP?Â How should we Americans think about the decision to pick a person with so many personal responsibilities and so little national or international experience to be placed a heart beat away from the presidency?Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â So, I hope the press isÂ going to ask Miss Guns and oil drilling in our wildlife reserves, how she plans on spending the time required to give to a child with special needs, and potentially be the commander in chief.Â So, these are the Â people that will bring a needyÂ child into the world, but they won't be around to take care of them?Â If life is so precious, then who is going to take care of that precious life?Â Or are these kids on their own once they come into the world.Â Now we know what they mean when the republicans talk about the ownership society.....it means you are on you own!Â Is it responsible for a women to bring all these children into the world, but to be out campaigning and in political meetings most days and nights?Â Â Since the republicans are supposed to be all about responsibility, where is this woman's REAL responsibility to take care of her children?
I thought the comment that Gov. Palin's spokesman Mr. McCallister about her being older than John Kennedy when he ran fro president in 1960 was an abomination.Â First of all, John Kennedy had served in the U.S. Congress (both the House and the Senate) for 14 years.Â He also came from a political family, with his father at one time being ambassador to Great Britain.Â JFK had also traveled throughout the world and written two major historical books, "Profiles in Courage" (which won a Pulitzer Prize),Â and "Why England Slept", dealing with events in England leading up to the Second World War.Â Gov. Palin's claims to fame include being runnerup in some backwater beauty contest, being mayor of a 6,000 (+ or -) fishing village while deciding who gets to shovel the moose crap off the streets, being a hockey mom and a one-time sportscaster.Â I would bet that she knows about as much about national issues (let alone the political process) as a pig knows about Sunday school.Â This choice by Sen. McCain indicates two things - just how desperate his campaign is to attract women voters, and how shallow his campaign really is.Â I'm anxiously awaiting any vice-presidential debates that may be scheduled.
As someone looking at the choices facing AmericansÂ from outsider, I think its a great thing McCain has done appointing Palin. Your article was balanced and a good introduction to the issues involved as the party leads up to their convention.
Personally, I have a lot of respect for McCain and hope he will win - it will be good for the world to have such a colourful President instead of a President whose only claim to fame [according to his own supporters] is the colour of his skin.
R Singh / London
There are many questions to now answer about Ms. Palin as a possible 2nd in command of our country.
1.Â How will she deal with the issue of caring for her children, especially her newborn son who has disabilities?Â Does she breastfeed this infant?Â Who will care for him while she campaigns and takes on the duties of office?
2.Â How will she get "up to speed" on the pressing issues of the nation, i.e. foreign policy, dealing with terrorists, the economy, etc.
3. What will be her criterion for selection members of the judiciary?
4.Â In other words, how is this choice not cynical and ridiculous in the extreme????
Patti H. / Austin, Texas
I am wondering if there is any truth to the rumor that Sarah Palin's son is actually her grandchild.Â It seems that it is something Alaskans have been speculatingÂ for months.Â Are there any articles in Alaska about this or any journalists who are doing investigative reporting on this topic? If true this matter exhibits an undeniable lack of integrity and judgment on her part once again.Â That she would subject her teenageÂ daughter to this humiliation when she could have simply embraced and supported her child based on her pro-life values instead of being politically expedient and carelesss with lie after lie after lie.Â The idea of Sarah Palin a heartbeat from the presidency if McCain were elected represents a national catastrophe.Â It is an inslut to imply that Sarah Palin is anywhere near as qualified as Hillary Clinton or anyoneÂ for that matter.Â Futhermore, "Miss Congeniality" doesn't seem so nice after all.Â What is the truth about the firing of her ex brother in law? A concerned citizen
For a While I was at long last excited and energized as a Republican.Â Then you all in the "drive-by" media came and pee'd all over our parade.Â You guys are the reason print media is dying.Â Â You never say anything positive.Â You hate Republicans....you hate America Â Alway negative.Â Go to work for Isvestia....You'll get along there.
Bob in Texas.
PS:Â We all Luv Sarah......
The article about opinions about Palin back in Alaska was good and useful but we both know that the potentially BIG story is "troopergate". I've wondered why we've not heard anything from Wooten about this? I would imagine that the Inquirer at least would want his story as this makes for good tabloid trash.
I appreciate your point of view in regards to Sarah Palin as VP pick, but I take acception that you're critiquing her for the position of President versus Vice President.Â What your story lacks is a comparison showing whereas Barack Obama has less experience than she does - and he's running for President and actually believes that he should be President.Â I don't quite understand why you guys, along with the liberal press, are spending so much time talking about Palin's shortcomings and not more time focusing on the real problem - which is Obama's complete lack of experience to take the top job.Â This guy hasn't as much as run a McDonald's, but everyone thinks he's "The One" for some odd reason.Â To trust our country to someone who can only speak of change, yet not articulate how we can or will bring about such change, is irresponsible.Â It's irresponsible of the Democratic party to have him on the ticket as much as it's the irresponsibility of our fellow Americans to have voted for him in the first place to put him in the position he's in.Â In my opinion, he's got everyone fooled.Â The guy is a manipulative, arrogant, individual.Â Why people can't see thru him is beyond me.Â If for some reason he does win, then everyone will have what they want - another inexperienced Democratic President that will bring this country back to the days of Jimmy Carter.
Just writing to say that your article was great regarding the readiness of Palin. Please write more and please quote more Alaskans. This pick is from left field....and frankly an insult to women who supported Hillary Clinton.
She may be intelligent, but "Commander in Chief"????Â Hardly...and it is a scary thought that if elections are manipulated as in 2000, and 2004....this woman with a "banana clip" in her hair could engage our country in war and negotiate with world leaders.Â It's unthinkable.
Diane B. / Naperville, Illinois
I am writing in response to the opinion article of yours regarding Gov Palins qualifications. 1) She is a Vice President not President candate but she was on city council along with gov which is an exec position not like the other partys nominee for president not vice president. He is a junior senator who never ran any exec position so he is less qualified than her and she is not running for president. He is just a smooth talker that is a rock star that is wishy washy with no back bone when dealing with the evil of our day. You reporters need to get your stars out of your eyes and get back to the real world. 2) She is a mother of 5 with oneÂ handicap child which to me gives her a edge because she has had to run a household along with a job which is a very tough job. 3) You can'tÂ stand A person with moral back bone that stands up for what she believes and doesn't buckle under the presure of lobists. to me that alone qualifies her for vice-president which is more than a smooth talking liberal who is the media darling. So wake up and get your head out of the sand.I can understand if you don't print the article because you liberals are closed minded to the truth!!!!!!!!
I was happy to see you stand up and speak out honestly about Palin. She isn't running Alaska properly and placed her personal agenda before the good of Alaska when she allowed pressure to be placed on employees to fire her former brother in law.Â That's wrong and SHOULD NOT BE PERMITTED! She is NOT qualified to be VP of the USA.Â We (Americans) are already laughed at and made the brunt of jokes in other countries because of the Republicans refusal to acknowledge George W. Bush's inexperience andÂ lack of knowledge to lead this country.Â They lied and cheated to get him into the White House that's why we are in this mess (war). I, personally thank you both for telling the truth.Â What a breath of fresh air. May God bless you both. Anna H. Concerned US Citizen
I read your piece and found it to be fairly objective, however, I have yet to read anything comparing Obama's "experience" to Palin's experience. What does Obama have that Palin doesn't?
If the media is going to incessantly point to Palin's "inexperience" as a flaw, what do they have to say regarding Obama's "experience?"
I'm sure while Obama was busy passing legislature naming bridges and post offices (excuse my satire), Palin was fighting against Alaskan corruption and cutting extra spending.
Does anyone not realize being a governor is an executive position (which essentially describes the presidency)? Palin isn't a woman amongst many voting on a certain issue. She is the one who has to call the shots.
Furthermore, Palin has more to show for being an "agent of change" than Barack Obama--and he's the one running for President of the United States.
Excuse me for the rant, but I've been waiting for some level-headed reporter to address the blatantly ignorant media on their inconsistencies. It'd be nice to see some refreshing material.
After reading your article this morning, I'd like to comment.Â Sarah Palin is an extraordinary human being and has executive experience.Â She's really bright, gets right to the heart of any matter, is ethically strong, and is a successful & fearless reformer.Â Nobody has really mentioned this next point so far, but I'll tell you, that from my perspective as a working mother (Registered Nurse) of 3 children, she also is a clear thinker, who is incredibly organized & able to delegate responsibility.Â I see that there are comparisons being made between Governor Palin & Senator Clinton & supposedly people who would have voted for Hillary will switch to the McCain/Palin ticket; this presumes that voters do not understand that Hillary's whole career has been about power & lies, while Sarah's political career started & continues with herÂ clear visionÂ to right the wrongs.Â Senator Obama speaks about his clear vision;Â Governor Palin doesn't just have the vision; she hasÂ exhibited theÂ deeds that are the natural extension of that vision.
Thank you for being truthful and pointing out the obvious. I just hope the American people can open up their hearts and eyes to see the truth instead of listening to others feed them with false information.
Thanks for your truth in journalism!
You will be pleased to know that your article on Palin has gone into my archive on examples of liberal Democratic party journalism.Â This email is also forwarded to Yahoo as we have been in discussion about the use of liberally slanted "news" as a propaganda machine for one party (guess which one that is).Â We really don't have a "free" press anymore unless by "free" it means free to report only what the Democratic party wants to hear and bury the rest as best you can.
You actually wrote, "Still, some Alaskans -- including a supporter of Palin's 2006 run for governor and a former staff member -- expressed reservations about the choice."
``She's not qualified, she doesn't have the judgment, to be next in line to the president of the United States,'' Larry Persily, who until June worked in the governor's Washington office as a congressional liaison, said in a phone interview yesterday. And Obama does? Apparently, if you are a liberal cool-aid drinking reporter FOR THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY, experience ONLY matters when if comes to Republican candidates.Â Or for that matter, honesty, integrity, character, keeping your promises, faithfulness you you spouse, patriotism...should I go on?
A supporter of Palin's campaign for governor, Jim Whitaker, the Republican mayor of Fairbanks, also questioned Palin's readiness to serve as vice president in a phone interview yesterday.
Whitaker said that while he is ``still an avid supporter'' of Palin as governor, he will continue to back Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.
Good job on the liberal slant. If this were a REAL journalistic piece, it would have compared Palin's experience to Obama's ZERO experience. The only executive experience Obama has was in the private sector and claims he really doesn't remember what he did there as he sat on a board with his friend the terrorist. Now there is a story.
I took journalism in high school and apparently learned more than you did. Journalism has to be "objective".Â I guess that leaves you out.
You end by quoting a liberal newspapers OPINION``Most people (YOU MEAN MOST LIBERALS WHOÂ FORGET ABOUT EXPERIENCE ON THEIR TICKET) would acknowledge that, regardless of her charm and good intentions, Palin is not ready for the top job,'' the newspaper wrote. ``McCain seems to have put his political interests ahead of the nation's when he created the possibility that she might fill it.''
Then of course you end with a rumor about the firing of a State Trooper. Nice.Â Just put on your Obama button and hand out bumper stickers. There's a job for you with integrity.
While Gov. Palin has some admirable personal qualities (from what I read), I am very concerned about the experience issue.Â Do you know how many states or countries she has traveled to?
Andy R. / Elmira NY
His advisors must work for the Obama camp. Why is it that none of the articles have comments at the end for the readers to express their opinions? We do not have a democratic government, we have: "The Golden Rule Government" Those with the gold rule, which has, and always will control governments. Why is it, everyone, that is in the MediaÂ business never tell the people the truth?
Palin is McCain's popular puppet. McCain and Carl Rove Jr. are the evil minds behind all of this smear and they are just beginning. Palin and McCain have switched roles with Bush and Cheney, and McCain has become a hideous hybrid of the two. He would love nothing more ifÂ the sights are kept on Palin instead of him.
Tom M.Craig Medred
Bloggers are having a field day chewing on news reports about Gov. Sarah Palin and Troopergate. Rather than offering more opinions, AlaskaDispatch.com provides you today with statements from the horse's mouth - the McCain-Palin campaign - which has assembled the Palin Truth Squad to set the record straight on the governor's firing of Alaska's top cop, Walt Monegan. This email comes from McCain-Palin spokesman Taylor Griffin, who has set up shop in Anchorage to deal with media questions about Troopergate.
Here's what Griffin sent us and other reporters Friday afternoon, responding to questions about Todd Palin's refusal to cooperate with a subpoena issued by state lawmakers to take his statement on Monegan's firing. Griffin also summarizes the "French Connection," which the McCain-Palin camp believes has tainted the once-legitimate Troopergate investigation:
"Todd Palin responded to the subpoena through his attorney Tom Van Flein and raised a number of objections.Â The political turn of the Legislative Council's inquiry makes clear that it can no longer credibly consider the facts and get to the truth in this matter.Â Recent developments have raised serious concerns about the effect of undue political influence on the inquiry.Â The Governor is an open book on this matter and is fully cooperating with the Personnel Board inquiry already begun by Timothy Petumenos."
SUMMARY OF OBJECTIONS
Subpoena is invalid for more than a dozen separate legal reasons, including:
--Under the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act, all claimsÂ relatingÂ to ethics allegations against the Governor, including specifically allegations involving the termination of executive branch employees, must be referred to the Personnel Board.
--The Alaska Constitution vests the Governor with exclusive authority to dismiss department heads, with no right of reviewÂ by the legislature.
--To the extent the legislature has oversight authority overÂ the Office of the Governor, that Â authority is vested exclusively in the State Affairs Committee,Â not the Judiciary Committee.
--A number of the members of the Legislative Council, which originally authorized the Branchflower investigation, have stated that they no longerÂ support the investigation as Â currently structured.Â Sen. Kim Elton, the chair of the Council, has acknowledged the needÂ to Â re-poll the Council to determine authorization for any further action on the investigation.Â Thus, there is not currently any authorization for the Branchflower investigation to proceed Â further.
HOLLIS FRENCH HAS POLITICIZED THE INQUIRY
Democrat Senate Judiciary Chair Hollis French Has Already Pre-Judged The Outcome Of This As-Yet-Unwritten And Un-Investigated Report Saying "It's Likely To Be Damaging To The Governor's Administration." "Is the McCain campaign afraid of an â€˜October surprise' involving vice-presidential pick Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska?Â The Alaska state senator running an investigation of Gov. Palin says the McCain campaign is using stall tactics to prevent him from releasing his final report by Oct. 31, four days before the November election.Â â€˜It's likely to be damaging to the Governor's administration,' said Senator Hollis French, a Democrat, appointed the project manager for a bi-partisan State Senate Legislative Counsel Committee investigation of claims that Palin abused her office to get the Alaska public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, fired." (Brian Ross and Len Tepper, "â€˜October Surprise' Over Palin Investigation," ABC's "The Blotter" Blog, www.abcnews.go.com/Blotter, 9/2/08)
French Publicly Declared Governor Palin Has A Credibility Problem. "French said he still wanted to take testimony from Governor Palin sometime in September about allegations she wanted the public safety commissioner to fire her ex-brother-in-law following a messy divorce to her sister.Â â€˜The Governor first issued a blanket denial but now she's had to back down and that's a problem,' said French. â€˜She has a credibility problem,' he said." (Brian Ross and Len Tepper, "â€˜October Surprise' Over Palin Investigation," ABC's "The Blotter" Blog, www.abcnews.go.com/Blotter, 9/2/08)
French Even Commented About The McCain Campaign's Vetting And Alluded To An "October Surprise." "â€˜French says the McCain campaign failed to contact any of the Senators involved in the investigation during the vetting process of Gov. Palin.Â â€˜If they had done their job they never would have picked her,' said French. â€˜Now they may have to deal with an October surprise,' he said, referring to the scheduled release Oct. 31 of the committee's final report." (Brian Ross and Len Tepper, "â€˜October Surprise' Over Palin Investigation," ABC's "The Blotter" Blog, www.abcnews.go.com/Blotter, 9/2/08)
LETTER: ELTON TO HARRIS
Sen. Kim Elton, Democratic Chairman of the Legislative Council, the Body Charged with the Monegan Inquiry:Â "I No Longer Believe The Debate Can Be Any More Politicized Than It Is Now." (Sen. Elton, Letter To Rep. John Harris, 9/17/08)
LETTER: COGHILL TO ELTON
Six members of the Legislative Council Joined A Letter Encouraging Sen. Elton To "Consider The Integrity Of The Legislative Council" And Calling For A Meeting To Discuss Concerns Over The Politicized Process. (Rep. John Coghill, Letter To Sen. Kim Elton, 9/9/08)
Rep. Coghill Called On The Legislative Council To Convene After Hollis French's Public Political Comments. "The decision as to whether or not the Senate or House Judiciary Committee subpoenas anyone is made by the respective committee and the presiding officer, however, considering the political nature of Senator French's comments, we believe Legislative Council should convene and have the discussion before any subpoenas are issued relevant to the investigation in light of the ethics complaints filed with the administration." (Rep. John Coghill, Letter To Sen. Kim Elton, 9/9/08)
LETTER: HARRIS TO ELTON
House Leader John Harris Called On Sen. Elton To Convene A Meeting To Examine The Impartiality Of The Council.Â "The political landscape certainly has changed since this investigation was authorized by the Legislative Council on July 28, 2008.Â What started as a bipartisan and impartial effort is becoming overshadowed by public comments from individuals at both ends of the political spectrum.Â A meeting of the Council is now warranted to ensure that this investigation remains and concludes in the impartial and timely manner we agreed upon." (Rep. John Harris, Letter to Sen. Kim Elton, 9/16/08)Craig Medred
"The best of times"-Consider the $3269 checks recently mailed to every Alaska man, woman and child, equal to more than the annual income of folks in Vietnam, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Zambia, Uzbekistan, the Marshall Islands, and dozens of other client nations of America in places where trickle-down corporate resource income fails to trickle into every outstretched hand. As Alaskans will soon see, not only folks from Yemen or Cambodia are paying attention to Alaska's big oil money distribution. Alaska is the single state of fifty where the gap between the top twenty percent richest and the poorest twenty percent has narrowed in the past twenty years, a factoid left out by the New York Times blog when it cited stats, blaming the two year Governor, Sarah Palin, for every state failure, rural or urban.
"The best of times?" Governor Sarah heeded the warning of future Congressman Bob Bartlett at the Alaska Constitutional Convention not to let big resource extractors sit on our resources and develop them when they felt like it. She took on Exxon for its corporate decision to inventory the massive Cape Thompson leasehold indefinitely with no commitment to drill. "The best?" Because she worked with Democratic legislators while her fellow Republicans stood transfixed with fear over Federal prosecutions, to raise the tax on oil profits (although not production), and -in the most unconservative fashion imaginable- used $500 million as table bet to force the oil companies to move forward on a natural gas pipeline.
In an obscure, but invaluable, web offering, consultant Joe Rothstein describes part of her oil policy this way: "On becoming governor, Palin launched a process that resulted a few weeks ago in a contract with a credible Canadian company to build a gas pipeline from the north slope to the U.S. Midwest through Canada. The big oil companies who own the gas didn't bid on the gas line project and have given no guarantees that they will fill the line with gas if and when the project is completed.
"Palin has suggested that if the oil companies don't cooperate the state just might go into the gas business itself, from its own unleased lands. If Alaska were a country, that might be called "nationalization." You can be sure that if Obama or any Democrat suggested it, the Republicans would call it "socialism."
So there you have it. The good news was Sarah Palin really had taken on the oil companies, with a windfall profits tax, cancellation of unused leases, and by moving ahead with a major gas pipeline that the oil companies would rather not see built.
Palin had become a bad Republican, an out of control governor, out Chavezing Hugo Chavez. With bonus checks for Alaskan fuel bills, Sarah Palin had the moxie to capitalize on the universal Alaska hatred for Exxon, festering since the spill in 1989. Her predecessors -both Democratic and Republican- could have done the same, but were either on the take or wanted to be: The best example: Tony Knowles who used state resources to fight for an even bigger oil monopoly before the Federal Trade Commission, a merger of BP and ARCO. (He lost).
Palin's independence from Big Oil's control was catching. The Presidential outcome was in doubt for the first time since 1964. Alaska was on the verge of drifting Democratic with solidly popular candidates for Senate and Congress. Obama even had the chutzpah (Yupik for gall) to run TV commercials in Alaska, sending 65 staffers North to open offices in places Â long abandoned by the state consumer protection and Alaska legal services offices. A Democratic Presidential campaign spending money in Alaska!! What a concept.
But then Exxon fixed its Alaska Problem
If you were the most powerful multinational corporation on the planet, what would you do? How would you get rid of Sarah Palin and the fledgling independence movement against Big Oil she had sparked? If Alaska were another Uzbekistan, you would fund a coup or an assassination. But this is America and, luckily, here you have a national political party that does your bidding. Ask Dick Cheney. In the oil business, you know how to deal with your colonies. Simply put, you pit Alaskan against Alaskan with a Palin nomination to higher office.
Even easier than working with floundering national Republicans was working with a desperate John McCain, whose survival instincts are those of a sewer rat, honed as they were in the worst of places, John McCain, whose attacks on Alaskan benefits are legendary (Disclosure: I took on McCain on Reindeer herding at a D.C. consumer meeting).Apparently John McCain, is the only one in America who knows he will outlive his critics because he has his mother's genes.(Americans who wait for their enemies to die, usually die waiting. Ask Fidel Castro.) Easy, if you know Palin is a typically ambitious Alaskan political animal who will grab a brass ring when handed her. Don Young did it when Nick Begich disappeared in 1972. So did Frank the Bank and so did his daughter. So did former U.S. Solicitor, Ted Stevens.
Big Oil's solution? You Peter Principle Palin out of Juneau. "Peter Principle" is a tried and true strategy for getting talented people out of the way. University people know this is why talented teachers become incompetent administrators. If McCain wins, she is transformed from an oil company troublemaker into a likeable advocate for domestic petroleum production on a national stage. And if she loses, the state's working relationship between Dems and the Guv is shattered. Who will benefit more than Big Oil? Exxon is nothing, if not smart.
But of course, it gets worse. The National Campaigns discover and define Alaska for America. Sarah Palin is transformed by the Dems and their allies into a monster by people who don't know her. Attacks on Palin morph into attacks on Alaska, heightening local paranoia. Alaskans attack one another in the street and in the blogs. The National Republicans ignore her work as governor, good and bad, and turn her into something she wasn't in Juneau, a small town ideologue. Sarah Palin gets with the national program and plays her part. Dems counterattack. Nobody wants to talk about the alliance against Big Oil.
Famous scribes fill the Captain Cook (our Palestine Hotel) to stand shivering in Anchorage streets, forced to come to Alaska in the off-season to pretend they can instantly read the place and the character of its people. Lyda Green , Tony Knowles, Andrew Halcro, Les Gara, John Harris -all with pure consciences and no axesto grind and no dirty laundry- offer wise local, counsel to the Outside Experts. Local experts get with the national media program and get famous in "Northern Exposure Two: the Sarah Palin Story."
Alaskans like to say they don't care how they do it on the outside. But once the spotlight shines, they quickly become extras in a movie produced by a truly Bipartisan Political Slime Machine, as managed from afar by the ace partisan team, James Carville for the Dems and his wife, Mary Matalin (who just published a scurrilous book on Obama). Alaskans play along and tear into each other to the private delight of Big Oil and the national media. Their checks already in the bank, they either attack or applaud Palin in the street, forgetting that a few months before Exxon was the one they attacked together. The fight over "values," conceals entirely Exxon's agenda.
But not to worry, the worst of times will only get worse. In fifty days, the movie will be over. With a deepening national depression and word spreading of free money and a moose in every freezer, thanks to the nomination, thousands of Alaskan wannabes will hit the Al-Can for Alaska, an RV Grapes of Wrath. Alaska's population will double and then triple. Palin will either be in DC in a one-term Vice Presidency or back as a lame duck Guv, abandoned by her Party and despised by the Dems who worked with her. Democratic challengers to Congressman Young and Senator Stevens will be drowned under an Alaska tsunami in defense of Palin and attacks on Alaskans, as defined by the guests in the Captain Cook. An Obama vote in Alaska becomes a protest vote.
His campaign staff, the lost patrol. And independent Presidential candidate Ralph Nader whose focus on oil politics in Alaska has been unwavering, stands in the eye of Exxon's perfect storm. Vilified for eight years by the same bipartisan slimers, this longtime Alaskan observer can say when he visits the state, "Alaska, I warned you."
A Post script:Alaska's Senator Ted Stevens is the lucky one. Out of town and forgotten, ready to take his sacrifice fly for Ben Stevens and Trevor McCabe, his office or his lumps and get his Presidential pardon. Uncle Ted, who drew down a billion in Federal dollars for unmet Alaska needs that only Calista's Mat Nicolai remembered, will not comment on John McCain, while Alaska debates its "favorite daughter". But that wily old fox must marvel at Exxon's master counter-strategy for Alaska. The same Exxon who convinced America that the oil spill had been cleaned up and everyone was paid off found a way to stop Sarah Palin, her mini-revolt and its ripple effect, by giving her exactly what she wanted.
Steve Conn is retired professor of justice, University of Alaska, and former director of Alaska Public Interest Research Group. He lived in Alaska from 1972 to 2007 and is now based in Point Roberts, Wash. He recently helped collect more than 5,900 signatures from Alaskan voters to put Ralph Nader on the 2008 Alaska Presidential ballot.
Â Steve Conn
A travel expense form obtained by ABC news seems to contradict Palin-McCainâ€™s spokeswoman Meghan Stapletonâ€™s claim that one of the reasons former public safety commission Walt Monegan was fired was because he had arranged travel to Washington D.C. without Gov. Palinâ€™s approval. He was going to D.C. to ask for money to investigate and prosecute sexual assaults. That was the â€œlast strawâ€ Stapleton said in the press conference on Monday. The pressers have been named by the Palin-McCain camp the "truth squad."
However, the document from ABC news shows that the travel expense form was signed by Palin's chief of staff, Mike Nizich, on June 19 for travel on July 22-26.
A state Senate committee convened Friday to take testimony from witnesses facing subpoenas to tell what they know about the Troopergate affair, but none showed up - including Gov. Sarah Palin's husband, Todd.
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's husband and other witnesses boycotted a legislative hearing in Anchorage Friday, threatening to derail a thorough probe by the lawmakers into her firing of the state's police chief.
By refusing to honor subpoenas from the state Senate Judiciary Committee, the witnesses -- Palin's husband, Todd, and some of the governor's aides -- cast doubt on the lawmakers ability to complete their investigation. While the state Legislature could seek to hold them in contempt, the Senate and House are in recess until January and can't act without reconvening.Craig Medred