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.
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.
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