Mr. Tall Skeleton Mr. Tall Skeleton2
Picture of Palin

Abuse of Power
Cronyism: Govt. Jobs for Unqualified Friends

Feathers Her Nest


Tied to Radical Separatist Group

Sarah Palin's Skeleton Closet

Sarah Palin actually has a LOT of political experience -- a dozen years in office. And during all of that time, she has consistently abused her power, feathered her own nest, lied, flirted with a radical secessionist group, and used government to reward her friends and punish her enemies.

One thing she is NOT is a regular Joe (or Jane) Sixpack. Palin majored in Broadcast Journalism, worked in TV, and was trained by Newt Gingrich's GOPAC political action committee over a decade ago, which is why she's so good at political debates, delivering speeches and not answering questions.

Note: there were a lot of wild or unproven rumors thrown around about Palin when she was first announced, notably that baby Trig was actually her daughter's (clearly not true) and that Sarah Palin had an affair with a former business partner of her husband's (documented only by the National Enquirer). Granted, the Enquirer has a better track record than most people give it credit for (coughEDWARDScough), but their evidence looks a bit thin here. What I hear from sources in Alaska is that Sarah Palin told friends that she had an "emotional affair" with the guy but never consumnated it, and I see no evidence to contradict that.


“The Palin family gets upset at personal issues. And at our level, they want to strike back.” -- John Harris, Alaska's Republican Speaker of the House

“[In 1996] I said, ‘You know, Sarah, within 10 years you could be governor.’ She replied, ‘I want to be president.’ ” - Laura Chase, Palin's campaign manager for mayor in 1996

"“You should be ashamed! Stop blogging. Stop blogging right now!” - Palin's assistant Ivy Frye, to a Wasilla blogger

“I’m still proud of Sarah, but she scares the bejeebers out of me.” - Laura Chase, her 1996 campaign manager

"She's the world's worst multi-tasker. She'll have a cell phone in one hand, the BlackBerry in the other while she is reading two position papers. You have to tell her prior to the debate, 'Put that down, breathe deep.' They [the McCain staff] are not going to know that." - a former aide

Cronyism - Hiring Unqualified Friends for High-Paid Government Jobs

As both mayor and governor, Palin immediately fired lots of highly skilled, experienced staff and replaced them with "her people." What that means in practice is that Alaskan government now has tons of Wasilla residents, high school friends of Palin and members of her church in high positions, in $80,000 -$120,000 a year jobs, despite minimal or no qualifications.

For example, she named Franci Havemeister (a high school friend) as director of Alaska's Department of Agriculture at $95,000. Asked for her qualifications, the former real estate agent said that she loved cows as a kid.

Debbie Richter and her husband were long time friends of the Palins and owned a vacation house together. First Palin hired Debbie as her campaign treasurer, based on some bookkeeping jobs Richter had done. Once elected governor, she put Debbie in charge of the multi-billion program that send oil money rebate checks to every Alaskan resident. Soon after, the program had a famous disaster, where the computers crashed and no one had backed up key files. (I work in computers as my day job, and we discussed this at the time last year, when no one had heard of Sarah Palin.) They had to recreate hundreds of thousands of records by HAND, and no one really can be sure how accurate these massive payments were.

Abuse of Power

Sarah Palin is extremely vindictive. In a unique twist, she attacks not only her own enemies but even people who have divorced her friends. The most famous case of course is her sister's ex-husband, Mike Wooten (an Alaskan state trooper). Palin's pursuit of him (and her husband Todd's pursuit) is somewhere north of abuse of power and just south of flat-out stalking; she and aides following her orders may actually face criminal prosecution for actions such as opening confidential Workers' Compensation files to use against him.

A bipartisan investigation issued a 263-page report - with a confidential 700 page appendix -- meticulously documenting how Palin and her husband abused power by using the governor's office to hound Wooten. 36 times, Palin, Todd or one of their staff members contacted the office of the chief State Trooper to express anger that Wooten was still employed. They even found out he was going to appear in costume as "Safety Bear" at the Alaska State Fair and got him removed. When a year and a half of this did not get Wooten fired (he was protected by a union), Sarah Palin fired Wooten's boss, and claimed Wooten was not the reason. (But when her staff called his successor, and then interviewed him, they asked about Wooten each time and didn't mention any of the other 262 troopers.)

But Wooten's not the only one. Palin also fired John Bitney, an Alaska state employee, and pressured the legislator who then hired him to fire the guy too. Bitney's crime? He dated (and later married) Debbie Richter (see ) after Debbie's marriage to Scott Richter broke up. The Richters were close friends of the Palins and owned a vacation house together with them.

The Wooten case is the most disturbing, both because of Palin's obsessive attacks and the outrageous
coverup that she and McCain officials waged against the official investigation of this abuse. In a nutshell: Wooten is an Alaskan state trooper in a bitter divorce and custody battle with Sarah Palin's sister. Even before she was governor, she filed complaints against him with the state police. (She says he tested his taser on his 11 year old boy (at the boy's request), drank beer in his police car and hunted without proper paperwork.) The police investigated the charges and suspended Wooten for five days (but did not fire him).

After she was elected governor, Palin repeatedly pushed the head trooper (Walt Monegan) to fire Wooten. Strangely, Todd Palin called Monegan into a meeting in the governor's office -- no actual government employees were there -- and argued for Wooten's firing. (Todd admitted to investigators that he had made "hundreds" of calls to get Wooten fired. He is cc'ed on most of Sarah Palin's important emails, and often shows up unannounced in official meetings.)

Not surprisingly, chief trooper Monegan replied that Wooten had been investigated and punished, and you can't just go and punish somebody more for no reason besides the governor's husband's anger. Palin doesn't get that. For her, power means the power to get rich, punish your enemies and give high-paying government jobs to your friends.


I know, I know, "every politician lies." Well, no, that's not true. All politicians spin things to sound good for them, leave out inconvenient details, and make promises that they don't actually keep. But very few will flat-out lie to your face, when it's easy to prove that they are lying, and keep doing it even after they have been caught. Sarah Palin is that kind of liar. The most famous example is the "Bridge to Nowhere" but there are many. In her debate against Joe Biden, she said she and McCain supported letting bankruptcy courts restructure homeowner's mortgages (a lie) and repeatedly said Biden supported John McCain on Iraq until he was chosen as Obama's running mate (a flat-out lie. In fact, Palin also attacked Biden for opposing the surge, which he did, so she herself proved that she was lying). Palin also claimed that her administration fought to divest Alaska's investments in Sudan, because of the genocide in Darfur. That's also a lie. Her administration actually opposed a divestment bill, killing it. (At the very end of the session they said they support it, but too late get it passed.) In any case, she has the power to divest today, without any legislative action, but the state still holds $22 million of investments. When Katie Couric asked for an example of McCain pushing to regulate Wall Street, she said "I'll get back to ya on that" when she clearly had no intention of doing so (and of course didn't). There are dozens of examples. These aren't mistakes -- they are full, knowing lies.

The Bridge to Nowhere lie was amazing because, even after being caught lying, she kept repeating it every day for 10 days. It was as if she thought she could outlast the press, because if they kept pointing out that she was lying every day, it would look like they were biased against her. But, of course, when a candidate blatantly lies and keeps repeating the lie, that is in fact news. Most politicians either quietly drop the lie, or find weasel words that make it not exactly a lie. Palin kept repeating "I killed that Bridge to Nowhere and told the federal government, 'Thanks but no thanks. If we want a bridge, we'll build it ourselves.'" Except that Alaska (and Palin) DID want the bridge, and fought for it for years. She officially ended the program only after they lost the fight to get the feds to pay for it. And not only did Alaska (with NO taxes and billions in surplus oil revenue) not pay for it, they actually KEPT the federal money and used it for other projects -- including a $26 million road to nowhere on that same island, that stopped in a cul de sac right where the bridge would have been.

Feathers Her Own Nest

Sarah Palin claims to be a reformer who cleaned up the corrupt Republican political structure in Alaska, and she is definitely cleaner than the many Alaskan officeholders indicted or convicted for accepting bribes and other crimes. But "not a convict yet" isn't the same as being honest.

Throughout her career, she has used government to enrich herself. The most blatant abuse USED TO BE that Palin pocketed $17,000 in government travel expense payments for food and lodging for the 312 nights she slept in her own house. $55 bucks a night, government reimbursement, for sleeping at home. Try that at your work.

But now that she's on the national stage, that's small potatoes. Palin used campaign contributions -- part of it government campaign funding -- to buy $150,000 of designer fashions and baby clothes at New York's fanciest department stores -- Neiman Marcus ($75,062.63 in one shopping spree), Saks Fifth Avenue ($49,425.74), and Bloomingdales (a mere $5,102.71). That doesn't count the $4,716.49 she spent on hair and makeup in September alone. Baby Trig got a mere $295.00 at Pacifier and Steiniauf and Stroller, Inc.

Back in Alaska, Palin also pocketed over $40,000 in travel allowances for both her and her husband Todd, who is not a government employee, got him a state-paid Blackberry, and took her daughter to stay in a luxury New York hotel on the state's dime. Her excuse? She didn't take as much travel money as her predecessor Frank Murkowski. True, but she was only elected because Alaskans were so disgusted with him, so that's not saying much.

Even as Wasilla mayor, one of her first acts was getting the city to buy a white Suburban for her, which locals called the "mayor-mobile." She used her clout to get special treatment including a zoning waiver on her house (despite not keeping her promise to remove a fire hazard), and lots of free merchandise and services from businesses affected by city decisions (including what she called "an awesome facial", fresh salmon and "absolutely gorgeous flowers.")

Ties to Militant Right Wing Party

Barack Obama has been rightly criticized (including by us) for his connections to former left-wing radical bomber William Ayers. But Sarah Palin actually has much closer ties to a militant separatist party in Alaska, whose founder was eventually killed while trying to buy plastic explosives.

The Alaska Independence Party is a radical group registered as a political party in Alaska. It calls for Alaska to leave the United States (to enjoy its oil wealth, no doubt) and claims that the Alaskan statehood vote was illegal. But that doesn't begin to describe the AIP's extremism. Its founder Joe Volger said "The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government. And I won't be buried under their damn flag." Volger is dead but still celebrated on the AIP website. He died in 1994 when a blackmarket deal to buy plastic explosives went bad. His body was found in a gravel pit east of Fairbanks, wrapped with a blue tarp and duct tape.

Official voter registration records show that Palin was never an official member, but her husband Todd was, from 1995 to 2002, and Palin attended several of their meetings and conventions. (The McCain campaign confirms that she attended their 2000 convention; AIP officials add that she also attended in 1994 and 2006). Several officials of the party thought Sarah Palin was a member before she became Wasilla mayor, and said so publicly. (One of them went on to say that members should "infiltrate mainstream parties.") As recently as this year (2008), Sarah Palin taped a special video for the AIP's convention, saying "we have a great promise to be a self-sufficient state" and "Keep up the good work and God bless you."

There are other signs of Palin's extreme right-wing views as well. Her family provided the Associated Press with a photo of Palin at her governor's desk - reading a copy of the John Birch Society newsletter. Ironically, AIP founder Volger once said that "The problem with you John Birchers is that you are too damn liberal!"


Palin has fought public disclosure throughout her political career. Her first action when elected mayor (of a town of 5,000 people!) was to order city employees not to talk to any reporter. When she overruled the State of Alaska's scientists to fight against protections for polar bears, she blatantly lied and said publicly that the scientists supported her decision. When a reporter asked to see the scientists' emails under public records laws, she said it would cost over $468,784 for photocopy costs! And when a federal court ordered the documents released, they showed that the scientists opposed her all along.

She and her staff have adopted one of the Bush Administration's worst excesses, conducting state business on multiple private email addresses that are not backed up and not accessible to investigators (or historians), as all official correspondence is required to be. On October 10, 2008 an Alaskan court ruled that she was evading Alaska's open records law and ordered her to produce all emails concerning state business from private email accounts.

Most importantly, she and McCain campaign officials engaged in a furious coverup over the Mike Wooten Troopergate scandal (see Abuse of Power above). After police commander Monegan's firing, she claimed that neither she nor her staff had ever put any pressure on Monegan to fire Mike Wooten. That was all great until an audio tape emerged of a phone call, where Frank Bailey, one of her staffers pressured Monegan, saying "Sarah and Todd can't understand why Wooten hasn't been fired yet." A bipartisan legislative committee voted 12-0 to start an investigation, and Palin said she would cooperate with it 100%. Their report was due October 31st.

Then she was appointed as McCain's running mate, and noticed that October 31st was 4 days before the election. She not only stopped cooperating, but she ordered state employees to ignore subpoenas issued by the committee. She hired a private attorney (in addition to the state attorney general who represents Alaska and the governor), and her attorney attacked the investigation as biased. He even filed a new complaint against Palin with the state Personnel Board -- which is appointed by the governor -- and argued that only it has legal authority to investigate this matter. They tried to get Republican allies in the legislature to squash the investigation, but failed. Finally, Palin or her allies have sued several times to block the legislature's investigation, using the thin argument that the investigation is "not fair". Her attorney general ordered state employees to ignore their subpoenas and sued unsuccessfully to squash them. (Note that her attorney general was an small town lawyer unknown even to Republicans in the capital, Juneau. He owes all he has to her.) The only way to enforce the subpoenas is by vote of the legislature, but it won't be in session until next year. So Palin actually urged her staff to violate the law and ignore subpoenas which were upheld by the courts, knowing that they can't be punished until after the election. Eventually, courts ruled against her and Palin let her staff and husband answer questions, but too late to fit into the report issued by investigator Branchflower. She even had the nerve to complain that Branchflower didn't interview her -- after SHE refused his request request for an interview.

In the meantime, Palin and allies SUED to try to stop the report because it "wasn't fair." Their main evidence was that the man who oversaw the investigation was a Democrat, who said out loud that the report could hurt Palin. (Duh, it's an investigation of her for abuse of power!) Despite her arguments, the investigation was started by a 12-0 bipartisan vote (with 8 Republicans and 4 Democrats), and the same 12-0 majority voted to release it. The verdict: guilty of abuse of power, plus she lied about threats against her by Wooten, and her Attorney General stifled the investigation by not releasing emails.

It's a very disturbing sign of her governing style that she urges staffers to break the law and uses lawsuits to stop the investigation's report from even being made public. She is of course free to argue that the report is unfair, whatever it says, and the committee has no real power to punish her or her staff (except for violating their subpoenas). What is she so afraid of?


"Branchflower Report (on Troopergate) to the Alaska Legislative Council", by Stephen Branchflower, October 10, 2008

"Once Elected, Palin Hired Friends and Lashed Foes", by Jo Becker, Peter S. Goodman and Michael Powell, New York Times, September 13, 2008 pA1

"Biden Attacks McCain and Giuliani Over Troop Surge", by Brian Wheeler,ABC-News Political Radar Blog, November 26,2007

"Supreme Court to hear Troopergate appeal", By SEAN COCKERHAM, Anchorage Daily News, October 3, 2008

"Colberg files suit to quash subpoenas TROOPERGATE: State attorney general wants them ruled invalid", By SEAN COCKERHAM, Anchorage Daily News, September 26th, 2008

"Troopergate Documents", by the Anchorage Daily News (an archive)

"Palin Had Another Private E-Mail Account, Company Says", by Karl Vick, Washington Post, October 1, 2008

AP Investigation: Palin got zoning aid, gifts" By BRETT J. BLACKLEDGE, Associated press, September 29, 2008

"Palin Billed State For Nights At Home. Alaska Taxpayers Also Funded Family's Travel, Documents Show", by James Grimaldi and Karl Vick, Washington Post, September 9, 2008

"Record Refutes Palin's Sudan Claim -- Palin Administration Against Sudan Divestment Before It Was For It, Documents Show", By JUSTIN ROOD, ABC-News The Blotter, October 3, 2008

Video Message to Alaska Independence Party, by Sarah Palin, 2008 (on Youtube)

"Members of 'Fringe' Alaskan Independence Party Incorrectly Say Palin Was a Member in 90s; McCain Camp and Alaska Division of Elections Deny Charge", By Jake Tapper, ABC-News Political Punch, September 1, 2008

Alaska Independence Party website

"Founder Of Group Palin Courted Professed 'Hatred For The American Government'; Cursed 'Damn Flag', By Greg Sargent, Talking Points Memo, September 2, 2008

Audiotape of Joe Vogler interview, 1991, from the Oral History Program in the Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks

"Remains of Alaska Separatist Are Identified",New York Times, October 15, 1994

"Freedom Fighter -- Alaskan Independence Party chairwoman Lynette Clark talks about why she doesn't identify herself as an American, and about her kindred spirit Sarah Palin.", by David Talbot, , September 10, 2008

"Another AIP Official Says Palin Was at 1994 Convention", By Jake Tapper, ABC-News Political Punch, September 2, 2008

"The Palin Problem", By Jon Meacham, NEWSWEEK, Published Oct 4, 2008 (October 13, 2008 issue)

"RNC shells out $150K for Palin fashion", By JEANNE CUMMINGS, POLITICO website,10/22/08 12:35 AM EDT

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