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Vice President Sarah Palin hung in West Hollywood

Since Sarah Palin is a religious crack pot and hates gays I can understand why she was hung in West Hollywood in the city of Los Angeles. West Hollywood is a area of Los Angeles where a large number of gays hangout.

And since Sarah Palin hates gays because of her Christian upbring, and Sarah Palin wants to refuse gays the right to marry, I can understand why gays hate Sarah Palin and hung her in West Hollywoood.

Vice President Sarah Palin hung in West Hollywood


Sarah Palin - Hung in Effigy

Posted by: Rational_Thinker

Democrats Hanging Palin - Where is Charlie Brown on this issue?

Imagine the outcry if Barry Obama were hung in effigy in front of somebody's home.

It would not be a story of interest, it would not be free speech, it would be immediately defined as a hate crime and people would be going to jail.

What is with the Democrat party's recent urge to hang people in effigy?

They appear to believe that hanging governors and our troops in effigy are OK.


Palin effigy removed from US home after protests Fri Oct 31, 2008 3:04am EDT

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A man who prompted protests by hanging an effigy of U.S. Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin by a noose from his home at Halloween has removed the display because it was causing too much trouble.

Chad Michael Morrisette had dressed a mannequin to resemble the Alaska governor, complete with beehive hairstyle and her trademark glasses, and hung it by the neck from the eaves of his home in famously liberal West Hollywood.

In the run-up to next Tuesday's election, this triggered counter-protests and a visit by the U.S. Secret Service, although officials concluded he had violated no law.

"It was just creating such a disturbance. There were helicopters circling overhead, counter protesters," Jake Stevens, spokesman for West Hollywood Mayor Jeffrey Prang, said in explaining why Morrisette agreed to remove the effigy.

"Mayor Prang just kind of appealed to his common sense. He had made his point and it was becoming counter-productive," Stevens said.

Morrisette also plans to take down a mannequin of Republican candidate John McCain which had protruded from the chimney surrounded in flames, Stevens said.

"There was a huge mob scene. The whole thing became a life of its own," Morrisette, a professional window display designer, told the Los Angeles Times.

Counter protesters had held up a large sheet to screen the display and Stevens said someone had created a similar effigy of Morrissette with a sign reading: "Chad, How Does it Feel?"

And a woman in Redondo Beach, about 15 miles (24 kms) away, included in her Halloween decorations a dummy of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama smeared in fake blood, apparently stabbed through the neck with a large knife.

Palin, who is seen as more conservative than running-mate McCain, has been a lightning-rod of criticism from the left.


Men accused in Obama effigy plead not guilty

Oct. 31, 2008 02:10 PM

McClatchy Newspapers

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Two men accused of hanging an effigy of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on the University of Kentucky campus pleaded not guilty Friday in Fayette District Court. Their attorney said afterward that the incident has been "blown out of proportion."

Joe Fischer, 22, a University of Kentucky senior and former football team walk-on, and his friend Hunter Bush, 21, of Lexington entered pleas during a video arraignment before Judge Joe Bouvier.

Each man is charged with burglary in the second-degree, a felony, and theft by unlawful taking and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors. Defense attorney Fred Peters, who represents both men, said after the arraignment that the two put up the effigy in response to news reports that an effigy of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was hung at a West Hollywood, Calif., home.

However, Bush and Fischer could have "found other ways to express their unhappiness," Peters said.

"The way they went about doing it was certainly not the best way," Peters said.

Both Fischer and Bush gave statements to UK police detectives admitting responsibility, according to Fayette District Court records.

Between 1:30 and 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, Bush and Fischer entered the Farmhouse Fraternity, according to court records. Inside, they took a black sports jacket and khaki pants, and Fischer took an 8-foot ladder from a shed on the property, according to court records.

Statements provided by residents of the fraternity house also placed Fischer at the scene, according to a criminal complaint. Neither Bush nor Fischer is a member of the fraternity, police said Thursday.

The two hung the effigy resembling Obama 25 feet in the air with a noose, the complaint said. It was hung near the Rose Street parking garage, and from a tree over a walkway, creating a hazardous condition, resulting in the disorderly conduct charge.

Bouvier reduced the $7,500 cash bond on Fischer and Bush to 10 percent of $7,000.

Bouvier also scheduled a preliminary hearing for Dec. 1. At that time, the judge will hear whether there is probable cause to send the case to a grand jury for possible indictment.

Bouvier noted that Bush and Fischer will need to sign a waiver of dual representation in order for Peters to be legal counsel for both men.


Published: October 31, 2008 12:00 am

Palin hangs out in West Hollywood

HOLLYWOOD -- God bless America, and how's everybody?

Sarah Palin was hanged in effigy in a Halloween display in West Hollywood. The law varies. If a gay gets hanged it's a hate crime, if a black gets hanged it's a federal crime, if an Arab gets hanged, it means he was cleared of having weapons of mass destruction.



No ban on Sarah Palin drag queens in West Hollywood

2:12 PM, October 30, 2008

Combine West Hollywood's always outrageous Halloween parade with the eve of a once-in-a-generation presidential election and you know it's gonna be interesting. With the Sara Palin effigy making national headlines, the city has had to set the record straight, according to City News Service:

Last week, the city of West Hollywood shot down an Internet rumor that Sarah Palin drag queens would be banned from the Carnaval. “The city of West Hollywood has denied it is considering a ban on Halloween revelers wearing costumes impersonating Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin at its infamous annual Halloween Carnaval,” according to a city statement.

WeHo News reports that the rumors over the Palin costume ban rumor got started in a satirical essay that appeared on the Huffington Post. City officials are apparently angry because the post purports to quote Mayor Jeff Prang.

From the statement: "While these may be amusing, satirical comments about an alleged West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval Sarah Palin Drag Ban, they are not mine, nor were they authorized by me," said West Hollywood Mayor Jeffrey Prang, who was falsely quoted in the article.

-- Shelby Grad

Sarah Palin has the skills to shovel the BS high and wide

Sarah Palin has a Bachelor of Science degree in communications-journalism and this should give her the ability to sling the BS higher and deeper then your adverage politician. How teriffying a hot babe with the people skills of Ronald Reagan.

Sarah Palin Education Background

Palin attended Hawaii Pacific College in Hilo, Hawaii, in 1982 for a semester, where she majored in Business Administration, and transferred in 1983 to North Idaho College for the 1983-1984 school year. After winning a scholarship, she transferred to Matanuska-Susitna College in Alaska for one term before transferring back to the University of Idaho the following year where she finished out her college education and received a Bachelor of Science degree in communications-journalism from the University of Idaho in 1987, where she also minored in political science.


Alaska pays for Palin to govern from afar

AIDE: The tab may run more than $1,000 a day for a friend’s help.


The Associated Press

Published: October 30th, 2008 03:30 AM Last Modified: October 30th, 2008 10:16 AM

JUNEAU — Gov. Sarah Palin is still calling the shots in Alaska government even as she campaigns as Sen. John McCain’s presidential running mate, aides say. Her Anchorage office director and hometown friend, Kris Perry, has been with Palin for almost a month to help facilitate communication between the governor and her staff back home. Perry travels at the expense of Alaska residents — probably at a cost of more than $1,000 every day.

“She was dispatched from the governor’s office to be right with the governor, staffing her as it relates to state business,” said Linda Perez, state director of administrative services. “The governor is at rallies and things, and if we need to get information to her and get responses back, Kris is the one used to do that.”

Perez said she does not know how much Perry’s travel is costing Alaska. News organizations traveling with Palin’s campaign routinely are charged more than $1,000 per day per person for air travel, depending on the length of trips and how many people aboard flights share the cost.

Said to be Palin’s closest confidante on staff, Perry was manager of Palin’s gubernatorial campaign and has since run the Anchorage office, Palin’s main base of operations as governor.

Perry continues to draw her regular salary of $105,060 annually, and the state will pick up the tab for her travel and expenses, Perez said. She said some items, such as rides on the McCain-Palin campaign bus, will be difficult to estimate for reimbursement purposes. Perry also may use the state credit card for travel, said Perez.

“I asked her to keep a log and when she returns, if there are things that are reimbursable, we will do that,” said Perez. “We will try to sort it out when she gets back.”

State Rep. Les Gara, a Democrat, said it was appropriate for Perry to accompany the governor, but he questioned the state having to pick up the cost.

“It’s a lot of work, I assume the governor is doing it and she absolutely has the right to have staff with her,” he said. “But those are costs the campaign has chosen to impose on us and it would seem fair that the campaign would pay for it.”

Though the governor continues to draw her $10,417 monthly salary, the state will not pay for her travel and expenses because her purpose for traveling is not state business, Perez said.

Palin herself is in daily contact with her chief of staff, Mike Nizich, according to her staff.

Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell said he also is in frequent e-mail contact with the governor. He said Palin has named board members and appointed a new commissioner since leaving the state.

“The great thing is we’ve got a great team in place who continue to work at her direction,” Parnell said. “Our governor is definitely acting as governor. She’s in charge and communicating well.”

In the 2000 presidential campaign, George W. Bush turned over the Texas governor’s duties to Lt. Gov. Rick Perry on days when Bush was not in the state. In identical circumstances in the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton turned over the Arkansas governor’s duties to the lieutenant governor, Jim Guy Tucker, as called for in the state constitution.

Both McCain and Democrat Barack Obama have been criticized for missing substantial numbers of Senate votes since 2007 while campaigning.

Still, such a lengthy absence by the acting head of state is unprecedented in Alaska, and one author of the state constitution believes Palin should have turned her duties over to the lieutenant governor before leaving Alaska two months ago to campaign for the nation’s second highest job.

“When she took on the candidacy for vice president, she should have then created a letter saying, 'I am temporarily away from the Office of Governor and I hereby notify the lieutenant governor that he is constitutionally in charge,’ ” said Alaska Constitutional Convention delegate and former Lt. Gov. Jack Coghill. “That’s the way it should be.”


Complaint targets Palins' travel

TICKETS FOR KIDS: Personnel Board will review accusation.


Published: October 30th, 2008 01:45 AM Last Modified: October 30th, 2008 01:55 AM

A new complaint accuses Gov. Sarah Palin of breaking state ethics rules by charging the state for her kids' airline tickets to various events.

Frank Gwartney, a retired electrical power lineman from Anchorage, filed the complaint with the attorney general Friday. The state Personnel Board -- which is currently investigating the governor's firing of her former public safety officer -- will review this accusation too.

"It's just such a blatant misuse of state money," Gwartney said Wednesday.

Palin's office says the state considers the kids' publicly funded travel as official First Family business and that Palin only takes her kids to events they're invited to.

The Washington Post and Daily News reported in early September that the state has spent tens of thousands of dollars on Palin family travel. The topic grabbed headlines again last week when The Associated Press reported that the state paid $21,000 for commercial flights for Palin's daughters.

Some event organizers were surprised to see the children arrive, or agreed to a request from the governor to allow them to attend, the AP reported.

Gwartney's complaint says Palin broke rules that forbid state officials from using their jobs for personal gain -- in this case buying tickets that she would otherwise have to pay for herself. It cites various news reports as evidence.

Palin, a Republican, is running for vice president. Gwartney is a registered Democrat and said he has donated to Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaignbut is not working for the Obama camp.

His complaint also criticizes the governor for amending travel records to say that family members were on official business while on the road.

Palin spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said the reports were amended to make them more accurate, not to mislead.

Assistant Attorney General Dave Jones said any pending ethics complaints are considered confidential and couldn't confirm the state had received the complaint. In general, he said, accusations against the governor are handled by the Personnel Board rather than by the Department of Law.

A McCain-Palin spokesman dismissed the complaint.

"This is a purely political stunt less than six days from the election that not only violates the law that requires Personnel Board complaints to be confidential, but raises serious questions about the motives of Mr. Gwartney, a stated Obama supporter," said campaign spokesman Taylor Griffin. "Governor Palin has always acted with the highest standards of ethics."

Another ethics complaint, filed in August by former state employee Andree McLeod, alleged the state circumvented hiring practices to help a Fairbanks Palin supporter get a job. In that case, Palin has said the state fixed a "glitch" that prevented an applicant from moving through the hiring process.

An investigator hired by state legislators reported on Oct. 10 that Palin abused her power in pressing for the firing of a state trooper who was once married to her sister but acted within her authority firing her former public safety commissioner.


Palin pranked on Canadian radio

SARKOZY: Comedians call in by impersonating the French president.


Anchorage Daily News |

Published: November 1st, 2008 11:40 PM Last Modified: November 1st, 2008 02:20 AM

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said that she has worked to keep her sense of humor on the vice presidential campaign trail, including laughing at the French-Canadian comedians who called her on the telephone Saturday pretending to be French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

In the prank phone call, Palin is polite but comes off as slightly baffled by the whole exchange with the heavily accented man, known to Canadian radio listeners as one half of the duo known as the Masked Avengers.

Early in the call, comedian Marc-Antoine Audette, posing as Sarkozy, says, "You know, I see you as a president one day, too."

Palin's reply? "Maybe in eight years."

Campaign spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt released this statement: "Governor Palin received a phone call on Saturday from a French Canadian talk show host claiming to be French President Nicholas Sarkozy. Governor Palin was mildly amused to learn that she had joined the ranks of heads of state, including President Sarkozy, and other celebrities in being targeted by these pranksters. C'est la vie."

Palin's advisers put the call through to her during the day Saturday. When asked about how the comedians were able to connect with her, Palin rolled her eyes and referred to the campaign's statement. But she smiled and added, "you know, we'll keep a sense of humor through all of this, just as we did with SNL, too," referring to actress Tina Fey's impersonation of her on Saturday Night Live. "You know, you've got to have some levity in all this."

Through much of the call, she has the manner of a woman fending off unwanted male attention. The comedian says, "you know my wife is a popular singer and a former top model and she's so hot in bed. She even wrote a song for you."

"Oh my goodness, I didn't know that," Palin said.

The Masked Avengers, who have a regular radio show on a Montreal station, are known for their pranks, which include tricking celebrities such as Britney Spears. According to the Canadian newspaper the Globe and Mail, in 2007 they conned Sarkozy himself by impersonating Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Palin said that one of the most difficult things about her short transition to vice presidential candidate after serving just two years as governor of a sparsely populated, far-flung state has been growing a thicker skin -- but not necessarily for herself. It is difficult to see what's written about her children, Palin told McClatchy Newspapers in a short interview before a campaign rally in North Carolina.

"That was a little bit unexpected, how brutal some of that was," she said. "


Palin office defends charging state for children's travel

PACKAGE DEAL: They, too, represent the State of Alaska.


The Associated Press

Published: October 23rd, 2008 02:36 AM Last Modified: October 23rd, 2008 06:33 PM

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is allowed to charge taxpayers for her children's commercial airline tickets because they represent the state wherever they go with her, the governor's aides said Wednesday.

"There's an expectation that the First Family participates in community activities," said Sharon Leighow, the governor's spokeswoman. "They are representing the First Family and the state of Alaska."

Leighow and other Palin supporters defended the GOP vice presidential candidate's use of $21,012 in state money to pay for her three daughters' flights after The Associated Press reported the practice on Tuesday. The AP reported that often the children were not invited to the events the governor attended, but she brought them anyway and charged the government.

The AP also reported that Palin ordered the children's travel expense forms changed in August to add language claiming that they performed official state business on the trips. Alaska law allows governors to charge the state for their family's travel if they conduct state business. State Finance Director Kim Garnero said the governor's staff has the authority to make that determination.

But event organizers told the AP they were surprised when the girls showed up, and some said they had no role.

In all, the state paid for 64 one-way and 12 round-trip commercial flights for Palin daughters Bristol, 17, Willow, 14, and 7-year-old Piper. In some cases, Palin also charged the state for the girls' hotel rooms. Palin did not file travel expenses for her oldest son, Track, or her infant son, Trig, who was born this past spring.

Most of the commercial flights ferried the daughters between the state capital in Juneau and Anchorage, which is 600 miles away and about 40 miles from the Palin home in Wasilla, travel records show.

For example, the girls flew to Anchorage from Juneau for the weekend on Feb. 9, 2007, with Palin charging the state $1,556.40 for their flights. Palin listed the girls' attendance as "official starter" of the Iron Dog snowmobile race, which their father has competed in for 14 years.

The state paid the same amount for the three girls to spend a long weekend in Juneau in September 2007. Palin listed "First Family photos" as the official state business for that trip.

Taylor Griffin, a McCain-Palin campaign spokesman, said Palin followed the same practice as other governors whose children join them at functions. He added that Palin could have charged the state for her children's meals, but didn't.

Leighow also defended other state-paid trips the girls made. She provided to the AP on Wednesday an e-mail that the governor's office received that invited Bristol to a five-hour New York conference in October 2007 that she attended with her mother. Palin charged the state $1,385.11 for her daughter's flight. They shared a room for four nights in a luxury hotel on Central Park.

But the conference organizer said Bristol was only invited after the governor said she was bringing her.

"We told her we need to know her name so we can send her an invitation," said Mark Block, external affairs director for Newsweek magazine, which hosted the event.

Palin's calendar for one of those days in New York shows Bristol also attended the taping of MTV's "Total Request Live" show, with a note saying "dress: very posh (evening wear)."

Griffin also said Palin reimbursed the state for the cost of two friends who accompanied Bristol and Willow on a flight on a state airplane in May 2007.

John Glass, the deputy public safety commissioner, said he was not aware of the friends' flight until The Associated Press brought it to his attention, but the governor has the right to bring others on the plane.

"She has the ability to authorize people to travel with her," Glass said. "That's the end of the story."

The flight that included the Palin children's friends was among more than two dozen taken by the family on the state plane at a total cost of about $55,000. The family purchased commercial airline tickets when they couldn't get access to that plane, which is used primarily to transport prisoners and law enforcement officials. The plane costs $971 an hour to operate.

Bill Tandeske, who served as public safety commissioner from 2003 to 2006 during Gov. Frank Murkowski's administration, said the state plane should be used for official business only, not like a family station wagon.

"Is the use of a state asset for the governor's husband and kids appropriate? I suggest not," Tandeske said.

But don't worry she spends her own money wisely and goes to thrift stores in Alaska. It's only other people's money she spends like a drunken sailor, our money, the taxpayers money!


Palin family gets $150,000 makeover courtesy of GOP

By JOCELYN NOVECK The Associated Press

Published: October 22nd, 2008 04:19 PM Last Modified: October 22nd, 2008 04:24 PM

NEW YORK -- Who knew looking like a hockey mom was this darned expensive? Certainly not Wanda Routier, a proud hockey mom in Hewitt, Wis., who spends her time in sweat pants, turtlenecks, ankle boots and heavy coats.

She was dismayed to hear Wednesday that the Republican Party had spent $150,000 on clothes, hair styling and accessories for Sarah Palin and her family from such upscale stores as Saks Fifth Avenue and Nieman Marcus.

"I was put off by it," Routier said. "I mean I know they have an image to project, but that's a lot of money when we're talking about the economy the way it is! And the burden on ordinary Americans."

But another hockey mom defended Palin. "I can certainly imagine her clothes would cost that much," said Page Growney, a mother of four in upscale New Canaan, Conn. "What did you want to see her in, a turtleneck from L.L. Bean?"

As much of the world knows, Palin introduced herself at the GOP convention - in what's been widely reported to be a $2,500 Valentino jacket - as a "regular hockey mom," and boasted of having saved Alaska's taxpayers "over-the-top" expenditures like her luxury jet, her personal chef, even the ride to work.

She has often talked of "real Americans" and "Joe Six-Pack" and projected a folksy demeanor in her vice presidential debate.

"Let's do what our parents told us before we probably even got that first credit card," she said in that debate. "Don't live outside of our means."

The average U.S. household spent $1,874 on clothes and services in 2006, the last year for which figures are available from the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

So her detractors were naturally having a field day with the revelations, first reported on They included a whopping $75,062 shopping spree at Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, one for $49,425 from Saks Fifth Avenue, $4,902 at Atelier, a stylish men's store, and even a $92 romper and matching hat with ears for baby Trig at Pacifier, a Minneapolis baby store.

"Nothing says Main Street quite like Saks Fifth Avenue," wrote Talking Points Memo's David Kurtz.

Added AMERICAblog's John Aravosis: "Gee, Marshalls and Target are too good for Mrs. Joe Six-Pack?"

The episode naturally raised questions about the propriety of using party money for such expenses. The Republican National Committee said the clothes belong to the committee, while John McCain's campaign said the clothing would go to a "charitable purpose" after the campaign. It also sought to deflect the issue by criticizing the media attention.

"With all of the important issues facing the country right now, it's remarkable that we're spending time talking about pantsuits and blouses," said McCain spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt.

But many thought the remarkable thing was the expenditures themselves, which also raised a cultural and sartorial question: Can a candidate who portrays herself as a woman of the people spend this much on clothes and remain credible?

"She presents herself as Josephine Six-Pack, and I'll tell you this, Josephine Six-Pack wouldn't spend $150,000 on her wardrobe," said Lesley Jane Seymour, editor-in-chief of More magazine. "I'm all for 'shop 'til you drop.' But to be spending profligately when you're saying you're just one of the people - well, that's just bad marketing."

"Listen, you can walk into H&M and get three wardrobes for $500 to $1,000, and you're done," Seymour added.

That rings true to another hockey mom, Adina Ellick of Chappaqua, N.Y. "If I spend $1,000 on clothes in a year, it's a lot," said Ellick, 43. "Usually I'm sitting at a freezing hockey game in fleece pants and a pullover sweat shirt and a blanket over my head!" She said she was "offended" by news of the expenditures.

One stylist, though, thought $150,000 was not excessive for a woman in such a prominent place.

"Everything is relative," said Gretta Monahan, fashion adviser on "The Rachael Ray Show."

"Sarah Palin's goal is to be the vice president of the United States and that's a pretty damned big job. The better your image is, the better people will receive you."

If Palin's $2,500 Valentino jacket seems expensive, consider that Barack Obama wears Hart Schaffner Marx suits that retail for about $1,500. John McCain consistently wears $520 Salvatore Ferragamo loafers, while Vanity Fair editors estimated that one outfit worn by Cindy McCain cost $313,100, including diamond earrings and pearl necklace.

The immediate question for the McCain campaign, however, is whether the expenses were justified in the first place.

The 2002 campaign finance law that bears McCain's name specifically barred any funds "donated for the purpose of supporting the activities of a federal or state office holder" from being used for personal expenses, including clothing. A quirk in the law does not specifically mention party committees, however.

Fifteen years ago, McCain himself complained that restrictions on political contributions for personal use at that time were too broad and he wrote an amendment to tighten the law.

"The use of campaign funds for items which most Americans would consider to be strictly personal reasons, in my view, erodes public confidence and erodes it significantly," he said in May 1993.

Most of the expenses for Palin were initially incurred by Jeff Larson, a Republican consultant who was the CEO of the host committee for the Republican National Convention. Federal Election Commission records show that the RNC reimbursed Larson for the expenses - a total of $132,457.

Larson is a partner with FLS Connect, a firm hired by the McCain campaign and the RNC to undertake a phone calling campaign on behalf of McCain. Media reports have linked the firm to negative calls aimed at Democratic nominee Barack Obama. Larson's previous company worked for George W. Bush's 2000 campaign, conducting phone calls in South Carolina opposing McCain.

Larson's office referred calls to the RNC. A committee spokesman said only that the RNC has acted properly in reimbursing Larson.

In 2007, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards sparked derision after his campaign paid for two $400 haircuts. His campaign said they paid the bill by mistake and that Edwards would reimburse the campaign.

As for Obama, his campaign says it has paid for hair and makeup costs associated with interviews or events, but neither the campaign nor the DNC has paid for clothing.


State funded Palin kids’ travel $21,012: Reports later changed to say hotels, 76 airfares for her girls were official business.


Published: October 22nd, 2008 04:15 AM Last Modified: October 22nd, 2008 04:16 AM

Gov. Sarah Palin charged the state for her children to travel with her, including to events where they were not invited, and later amended expense reports to specify that they were on official business.

The charges included costs for hotel and commercial flights for three daughters to join Palin to watch their father in a snowmobile race, and a trip to New York, where the governor attended a five-hour conference and stayed with 17-year-old Bristol for five days and four nights in a luxury hotel.

In all, Palin has charged the state $21,012 for her three daughters’ 64 one-way and 12 round-trip commercial flights since she took office in December 2006. In some other cases, she has charged the state for hotel rooms for the girls.

Alaska law does not specifically address expenses for a governor’s children. The law allows for payment of expenses for anyone conducting official state business.

As governor, Palin justified having the state pay for the travel of her daughters — Bristol, 17; Willow, 14; and Piper, 7 — by noting on travel forms that the girls had been invited to attend or participate in events on the governor’s schedule.

But some organizers of these events said they were surprised when the Palin children showed up uninvited, or said they agreed to a request by the governor to allow the children to attend.

Several other organizers said the children merely accompanied their mother and did not participate. The trips enabled Palin, whose main state office is in the capital of Juneau, to spend more time with her children.

“She said any event she can take her kids to is an event she tries to attend,” said Jennifer McCarthy, who helped organize the June 2007 Family Day Celebration picnic in Ketchikan that Piper attended with her parents.

State Finance Director Kim Garnero told The Associated Press she has not reviewed the Palins’ travel expense forms, so she could not say whether the daughters’ travel with their mother would meet the definition of official business.

On Aug. 6, three weeks before Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain chose Palin his running mate, and after Alaska reporters asked for the records, Palin ordered changes to previously filed expense reports for her daughters’ travel.

In the amended reports, Palin added phrases such as “First Family attending” and “First Family invited” to explain the girls’ attendance.

“The governor said, 'I want the purpose and the reason for this travel to be clear,’” said Linda Perez, state director of administrative services.

When Palin released her family’s tax records as part of her vice presidential campaign, some tax experts questioned why she did not report the children’s state travel reimbursements as income.

The Palins released a review by a Washington attorney who said state law allows the children’s travel expenses to be reimbursed and not taxed when they conduct official state business.

Taylor Griffin, a McCain-Palin campaign spokesman, said Palin followed state policy allowing governors to charge for their children’s travel. He said the governor’s office has invitations requesting the family to attend some events, but he said he did not have them to provide.

In October 2007, Palin brought daughter Bristol along on a trip to New York for a women’s leadership conference. Plane tickets from Anchorage to La Guardia Airport for $1,385.11 were billed to the state, records show, and mother and daughter shared a room for four nights at the $707.29-per-night Essex House hotel, which overlooks Central Park.

The event’s organizers said Palin asked if she could bring her daughter.

Alexis Gelber, who organized Newsweek’s Third Annual Women & Leadership Conference, said she does not know how Bristol ended up attending. Gelber said invitees usually attend alone, but some ask if they can bring a relative or friend.

Griffin, the campaign spokesman, said he believes someone with the event personally sent an e-mail to Bristol inviting her, but he did not have it to provide. Records show Palin also met with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Goldman Sachs representatives and visited the New York Stock Exchange.

In January, the governor, Willow and Piper showed up at the Alaska Symphony of Seafood Buffet, an Anchorage gala to announce winners of an earlier seafood competition.

“She was just there,” said James Browning, executive director of Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, which runs the event. Griffin said the governor’s office received an invitation that was not specifically addressed to anyone.

When Palin amended her children’s expense reports, she listed a role for the two girls at the function — “to draw two separate raffle tickets.”

In the original travel form, Palin listed a number of events that her children attended and said they were there “in official capacity helping.” She did not identify any specific roles for the girls.

In July, the governor charged the state $2,741.26 to take Bristol and Piper to Philadelphia for a meeting of the National Governors Association. The girls had their own room for five nights at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel for $215.46 a night, expense records show.

Expense forms describe the girls’ official purpose as “NGA Governor’s Youth Programs and family activities.” But those programs were activities designed to keep children busy, a service provided by the NGA to accommodate governors and their families, NGA spokeswoman Jodi Omear said.

In addition to the commercial flights, the children have traveled dozens of times with Palin on a state plane. For these flights, the total cost of operating the plane, at $971 an hour, was about $55,000, according to state flight logs. The cost of operating the state plane does not increase when the children join their mother.

The organizer of an American Heart Association luncheon on Feb. 15 in Fairbanks said Palin asked to bring daughter Piper to the event, and the organizer said she was surprised when Palin showed up with daughters Willow and Bristol as well.

The three Palin daughters shared a room separate from their mother at the Princess Lodge in Fairbanks for two nights, at a cost to the state of $129 per night.

The luncheon took place before Palin’s husband, Todd, finished fourth in the 2,000-mile Iron Dog snowmobile race, also in Fairbanks. The family greeted him at the finish line.

When Palin showed up at the luncheon with not just Piper but also Willow and Bristol, organizers had to scramble to make room at the main table, said Janet Bartels, who set up the event.

“When it’s the governor, you just make it happen,” she said.

In February 2007, the three girls flew from Juneau to Anchorage on Alaska Airlines. Palin charged the state for the $519.30 round-trip ticket for each girl, and noted on the expense form that the daughters accompanied her to “open the start of the Iron Dog race.”

The children and their mother then watched as Todd Palin and other racers started the competition, which Todd won that year. Palin later had the relevant expense forms changed to describe the girls’ business as “First Family official starter for the start of the Iron Dog race.”


Black leaders say they feel snubbed by Palin HIRING: Staff say it's evident governor supports diversity.

By RACHEL D'ORO The Associated Press

Published: October 19th, 2008 02:23 AM Last Modified: October 19th, 2008 02:23 AM

EDITOR'S NOTE: The original online version of this story, and the version published in Sunday's print newspaper, reported that Palin opposed issuing a proclamation last year endorsing a festival making the freeing of the slaves. The story failed to report that she issued such a proclamation in 2008.

Alaska's black leaders say they're not surprised to see Gov. Sarah Palin at the center of the controversy over injecting the race issue into the presidential campaign.

Palin, Republican John McCain's running mate, has repeatedly insisted that Barack Obama's former preacher, the inflammatory Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is a legitimate issue even though McCain himself has said it's out of bounds.

"She has no sensitivity to minorities," said the Rev. Alonzo Patterson, a Baptist minister and president of the Alaska Black Leadership Conference. "She's really inciting a lot of African-Americans to get out and vote."

Since taking office in December 2006, Palin has had a sometimes tense relationship with black leaders, who say they've been ignored in their efforts to get more minorities hired in her administration.

In Alaska, blacks chafed when Palin failed to issue a proclamation last year endorsing a festival that marks the freeing of slaves, though she did issue one this year. On the campaign trail, her events sometimes have attracted fringe groups hostile to minorities. At one rally attended by Palin, a supporter told a black cameraman to "sit down, boy."

This week, in the final debate of the campaign, Obama himself noted the hateful tone of some of the McCain-Palin crowds, singling out Palin herself for not doing enough to ease the friction.

In Alaska, the issue of race relations usually focuses on Alaska Natives, who make up 18 percent of the population. Blacks, in contrast, make up 4 percent.

Patterson and Javis Odom, an Anchorage minister, say that when they've pressed Palin about diversity in hiring, she gets defensive and even testy.

"If you're going to embrace the entire country, you need to address the issues here," said Marilyn Stewart, president of the Alaska Black Chamber of Commerce and a volunteer on Palin's gubernatorial campaign who has served Republican and Democratic governors. "Most certainly there are qualified minorities who would love to be part of her administration. People aren't asking for her selections to be based on color, but because of qualifications."

Among Palin's 417 appointments or reappointments to boards and commissions since taking office in December 2006, 240 have voluntarily identified their ethnicity. Eight are black, 49 Alaska Native, six Asian or Pacific Islander and one is Hispanic.

The Palin administration says her appointments and chief advisers reflect the state's diversity. For example, her communications director, Bill McAllister, is part black. However, her rural affairs coordinator, who is part Japanese, announced her resignation this week, saying an Alaska Native would be a better fit for the position.

McAllister, who was hired in July, said he and others on the governor's personal staff are evidence that she is committed to diversity.

"She's just a warm human being who I think communicates on a deep level, both from a mass media perspective and just a one-on-one perspective," McAllister said. "So it's shocking to me that anyone would imply that she's racist or, you know, neglectful of people of color. I think she's an extraordinary woman and it's disappointing to me that folks would make these charges."

In Palin's only face-to-face meeting with black leaders in 21 months in office, words became terse when the issue of diversity arose, according to several who attended the March 2007 gathering in Anchorage. Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell also attended the 45-minute meeting.

Participants say Palin refused to reconsider her decision not to reappoint two black officials -- including Stewart -- from her predecessor's administration.

The implication from Palin was "you can't tell me how to do my job," said Anchorage businessman Mayfield Evans. "Her top lip got really tight. You could tell she was upset, that something was not right."

At one point, Parnell broke in and asked the group if they were accusing Palin of being racist, participants said. Parnell said the group was making "outlandish claims" and added, "I'm not going to let somebody say that about her or me." He said the meeting ended on a positive note with Palin's assurances that minorities have an equal shot at appointments and state contracts.

"In my view, the governor has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that all Alaskans are treated with equal opportunity," Parnell said.

A few weeks after that meeting, Patterson sent a letter to the governor to reiterate the group's concerns and invite her to attend a town hall meeting with black constituents. Patterson said no one from the governor's office has responded.


Natives claim Palin neglects issues EQUAL: Treating everyone the same guides her policies.


Published: October 19th, 2008 01:52 AM Last Modified: October 19th, 2008 02:14 AM

When Rhonda McBride was picked as Gov. Sarah Palin's rural affairs adviser a year ago, some Alaska Native leaders were upset.

McBride was a veteran journalist who had lived in Bethel and traveled extensively in Bush Alaska, but she was not a Native. Sen. Al Kookesh, D-Angoon, told her point-blank that -- no disrespect to her -- he wanted a Native in the high-level policy job, someone able to bring a Native perspective to the governor's conference table.

Palin administration officials defended McBride's selection as color-blind: the job called for rural expertise, not specifically Native.

The "color-blind" phrase has come up several times in Palin's first two years in office, after decisions drew criticism from Natives. A still-raw example: last winter, Palin made three appointments to the state Board of Game, none of them Native, even though that would have excluded a Native from the board for the first time. The administration switched and added a Native with a confirmation battle brewing.

"It's her nature to want the best for all Alaskans," Tara Jollie, Palin's director of Community and Regional Affairs, said in an interview last month. "She would treat her Native constituency exactly the same as any other constituency."

The treat-everyone-equally principle also appears to guide controversial Palin policies opposing rural subsistence priorities and tribal adoptions.

The result, many Native leaders say, is a growing sense of friction and neglect in their relations with the Palin administration.

"She's just sort of absent on issues. It's like an indifference," said Kookesh, the co-chairman of the Alaska Federation of Natives, which has its annual convention in Anchorage this week. He said Palin's much-touted ties to Native culture through her husband's family have resulted in "no measurable impact on the Native community."

After two years working with rural communities faced by desperately rising energy costs, McBride herself decided the critics were right about the need for a stronger Native presence in state government.

"You begin to realize there's a certain moral authority a Native voice has," McBride said last week, one day after announcing her resignation. "I think the Palin administration is very well-intended. I just don't think I can bring the message on these issues as well as an Alaska Native can."


As a politician, Palin started out having to prove herself with the Native community.

Her position on the litmus-test issue of subsistence hunting and fishing -- she aligned with urban sportsmen's groups, opposing any constitutional amendment allowing a priority for rural residents -- assured minimal support from Native voters in the 2006 election. Palin's main subsistence plank was to encourage predator control, which she said would lead to more game for urban and rural hunters alike.

As governor, Palin has maintained a measure of personal popularity in rural Alaska and got a warm welcome at last year's AFN convention. With her focus on oil and gas issues, she has not gone out of her way to stir political fights with Native groups or Bush legislators. Palin's office has pointed out that she had two Natives in her cabinet: commerce commissioner Emil Notti and public safety commissioner Walt Monegan.

She made a pair of high-profile trips, soon after taking office, to the Bristol Bay village of New Stuyahok, which had suffered a series of alcohol-related deaths.

Palin's visits were mostly a morale boost, New Stuyahok mayor Randy Hastings said last week. But he credited the governor with bringing back revenue sharing funds that have been essential for paying fuel bills and running water and sewer systems in his community of some 500 residents.

Revenue sharing, along with the $1,200 energy "rebate" to each Alaskan, have been popular programs in rural communities for which Palin gets credit.

But questions about Palin's positions on Native issues flared up last month after her selection as John McCain's running mate.


The McCain-Palin ticket presents an unusual profile for Native Americans. Arizona, McCain's state, has the second-largest population of Native Americans, and McCain has a long history of working on tribal issues, including gambling. Alaska ranks only ninth in numbers, but the state is 13 percent Native, by far the largest percentage.

Boosted by the Palin choice, McCain remains far ahead in Alaska opinion polls. But the Barack Obama campaign has made special efforts to reach Native voters, sending organizers to rural hub towns and circulating an Obama letter on Alaska Native issues in which the candidate notes he started his activist career "working in communities like yours."

Shortly after Palin was chosen, two prominent Native rights lawyers in Anchorage circulated a letter nationally attacking her policies in Alaska as "an assault on Native peoples." The broadside cited legal battles undertaken by Palin on subsistence, tribal adoptions and Yup'ik language assistance to voters.

Heather Kendall-Miller and Lloyd Miller said a state lawsuit over federal water jurisdiction is really a covert attack on the federal court's Katie John decision, which granted rural residents access to subsistence fishing on federal waters in Alaska. The water rights case, like a legal challenge of a Chistochina moose hunt, were launched by former Gov. Frank Murkowski but appealed under Palin.

The lawyers also flagged the administration's refusal to recognize village adoptions handled by local tribal councils, despite losses in both federal and state court.

"Palin's lawsuits are a direct attack on the core way of life of Native Tribes in rural Alaska," the Millers wrote.

The strongly worded letter was the basis of much discussion in Lower 48 reservations and the national Native press. It brought a rebuttal in the newspaper Indian Country Today from former Colorado Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, a Republican, who said Palin was trying to advocate for the interests of all Alaskans, Native and non-Native. He said her marrying into a Yup'ik family gave her a "personal and abiding interest" in Native issues.

In a response to Campbell, Kendall-Miller claimed Alaska Native support for the Obama/Biden ticket was strong because of Palin's subsistence lawsuits. Kendall-Miller, who was the first Alaska Native to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, was a friend of Barack Obama's at Harvard Law School and an Obama delegate this year at the Democratic National Convention.

Talis Colberg, Palin's attorney general, said the state has persisted in court to try to define clearly what tribes can do in Alaska. But the state has not challenged federal recognition of Alaska tribes, as some legislators have tried, he said.

"This is a slow process. The courts need to weigh in as to where the lines are," Colberg said in an interview last week.


Palin's relations with the powerhouse regional Native corporations has been good, said Vicki Otte, executive director of the Association of ANCSA Presidents and CEOs. Palin has met with regional corporation heads and they have worked together, mainly on preparations for a natural gas pipeline, Otte said.

But tribal leader Mike Williams of Akiak said he has been unable to schedule a meeting with Palin or get responses to his letters. Williams is chairman of the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council. He said tribes have been forced to look at her lawsuits to discern policy, lacking any clear policy statements from the governor.

Myron Naneng, president of the Bethel-based Association of Village Council Presidents, said people are still upset about Palin's game board appointments, even though the administration later changed course and appointed a Native. Palin's first choice for the seat was a former president of the Alaska Outdoor Council, the state's largest sportsmen's group. That nominee withdrew as protests threatened to ignite a confirmation battle in Juneau.

Naneng equated Palin's awareness of Native issues with foreign policy knowledge supposedly divined by Alaska's proximity to Russia: "From her house, is she able to see the Native community and the issues we have to deal with?"

Officials at the Tanana Chiefs Conference, battling Colberg over tribal adoptions, say it's unclear why the state doesn't see the harmful effects to families of its ongoing litigation.

"I don't know if they're being argumentative, or just neglectful," said TCC tribal specialist Lisa Jaeger. "I'm not sure the governor herself has ever spoken about this."

AFN president Julie Kitka declined to be interviewed on Palin's positions regarding Native priorities, referring questions to Kookesh, the organization's co-chairman.

But the normally reticent Kitka did step forward three weeks ago with a newspaper op-ed column defending the reputation of Monegan, whose firing by Palin led to the ongoing investigations known as Troopergate.

Kitka said Monegan had been a strong force for improving the justice system in rural Alaska, and she objected to complaints about his record from the McCain campaign.

"I cannot allow a fellow Alaska Native to have his reputation tarnished and used as a political football," Kitka wrote.


The Palin administration may claim to be color-blind but it has not been tone deaf when it comes to Native concerns.

After Monegan's first replacement, a white police chief, was turned out over an old sexual harassment complaint, Palin named another Native as head of the public safety department. Joe Masters, a 19-year veteran of the state troopers, is an Inupiat shareholder of the Bering Straits Native Corp. who started his career as a village public safety officer in Unalakleet.

Last week, Palin named an Athabascan as the new head of the state Fish and Game subsistence division. it was Craig Fleener, the same Native she'd named to the Board of Game after the appointment flap last winter. That meant a new vacancy on the board -- and Palin spokesman Bill McAllister declined to say, when the vacancy first opened, if it would be filled with another Native.

Meanwhile, McBride is planning to return to a reporting job with KTUU-Channel 2. McAllister also declined to say whether the next rural adviser would be a Native.

McBride said the administration has been giving cabinet-level attention lately to rural energy costs and out-migration issues. But she said in a parting e-mail that she regretted the disappearance of the Department of Community and Regional Affairs, which provided help to cash-strapped rural communities but was eliminated in 1999 by then-Gov. Tony Knowles as a cost-savings measure.

That's another reason why the rural adviser should be a Native, she said.

"As the situation in rural Alaska becomes more desperate, I think they need someone who has a real deep cultural connection," McBride said. "In the course of doing my job, I've met lots of wonderful, talented young Alaska Natives who struck me as more qualified."


Investigator set to interview Palins

TROOPERGATE: Meeting this week will be held out of state.


The Associated Press

Published: October 20th, 2008 12:44 AM Last Modified: October 20th, 2008 12:35 AM

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her husband will meet this week with an investigator determining whether she violated state ethics law when firing her public safety commissioner.

Thomas Van Flein, the attorney for both Sarah and Todd Palin, said Sunday the separate depositions by an attorney for the Alaska Personnel Board will be held out of state. The investigator, Timothy Petumenos, will fly to meet the Palins.

Van Flein declined to say exactly when or where the interviews will be held, only that they will occur later in the week.

"I estimate each interview will take about three hours," he said.

Petumenos didn't immediately return a message left at his home Sunday.

An investigator for a separate probe by a legislative panel found earlier this month that Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential candidate, was within her right to fire Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan, an at-will employee.

But Stephen Branchflower, the Legislative Council's investigator, said Palin had violated ethics laws by trying to get her former brother-in-law, a state trooper, fired. Palin denies the charge.

She also said it was the Personnel Board's duty to investigate the claim, not the Legislature. The board hired Petumenos, an independent counsel, to conduct its investigation.

Last week, the Legislative Council voted unanimously to share with Petumenos confidential material gathered by Branchflower during that probe. The council published its findings but not the confidential matter.

The investigation was launched before Palin became the GOP vice presidential nominee, but has since taken on wider political implications.

Palin initially agreed to cooperate with the Legislature's investigation. But after she was tapped as John McCain's running mate, she said the probe had become too partisan and filed the ethics complaint against herself with the Personnel Board.

Democratic state Sen. Kim Elton, chairman of the Legislative Council, said last week it was important to share the confidential information to ensure that critical data was not segregated.

Under the Oct. 16 agreement, neither Petumenos nor the Personnel Board is allowed to reveal contents of the confidential documents without approval from the Legislative Council.

Despite Branchflower's findings, state lawmakers have no authority to sanction Palin for ethical misconduct. That's up to the three-member Personnel Board, which is appointed by the governor.

Two members of the board are holdovers from the previous governor and Palin reappointed the third. Members of the panel can be fired by the governor for cause.


Is Palin helping or hurting Alaska's image? PALIN: Businesses wait for dust to settle after good, bad exposure.


Published: October 17th, 2008 01:56 AM Last Modified: October 17th, 2008 09:56 AM

Like a sports celebrity or a high-end running shoe, America's snowy vacationland has a brand image to maintain.

Since Alaska became regular headline fodder with Gov. Sarah Palin's Republican vice presidential nomination, the state is everywhere.

Much of the buzz is the kind tourism experts like to see: Charles Gibson on the scenic shores of Lake Lucille. Wide panning shots of misty mountain vistas on CNN. Even a Newsweek cover with Palin holding a rifle over her shoulder reflects a desirable rustic charm.

But, as the governor has become an increasingly controversial figure, some images have been less picturesque.

There was the national columnist who described Wasilla as "a soulless strip mall without sidewalks." And the parade of gory late-night jokes about aerial wolf hunting. And the "Saturday Night Live" skit that featured an unfunny reference to backwoods incest ("I mean, come on," the character said. "It's Alaska").

At the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center, where the Alaska Travel Industry Association was holding a trade show recently, conversations on the floor of the exhibit hall veered to politics and Palin and the press.

What will it mean in the long run? Will negative portrayals stick?

"Welcome to Alaska," one attendee joked a little warily in the lobby. "Home of Joe Six Pack."


Unflattering comedy skits aside, Palin's rise seems to be good for tourism, said Ron Peck, ATIA's president and chief operating officer. The governor's media prominence has sparked national curiosity about the state -- more than 50,000 requests for information this year, double last year's count.

The question now is how many of those will turn into real visitors.

Last year about 16 percent of people who asked for information actually came within a year's time, Peck said. But in this economy, even with the added interest, it's hard to say what will happen. The state targets baby boomers in particular, and now they're looking at their tanking investments and worrying about paying bills, never mind vacations, he said.

Late-night cable jokes are not the kind of attention the industry is looking for. Still, "the net effect of Governor Palin's national exposure is positive for us," Peck said

That's not to say things have been easy. Just before the Palin pick, ATIA sent out 500,000 brochures featuring her picture, inviting people to visit. They've done it with every governor since Gov. Steve Cowper.

There are another 2.6 million printed and ready to go, but the Federal Election Commission recommended they not be sent out until after Nov. 4, to be sure they don't violate campaign rules.

There are 700,000 brochures waiting for mid-November.

In some regions of the country Palin is drawing enormous crowds of supporters, while in other places she's far less popular. This raises all kind of questions for tourism experts: Is it a good idea to use her image at all? Is it better to use her in some regions but not in others? What happens if she becomes the vice president?

There are no plans right now to make any changes, Peck said.


Many conference attendees were looking at ways to use the press -- positive and negative -- to their advantage. Take Ketchikan, home of the infamous "bridge to nowhere."

"We made T-shirts," said Patti Mackey of the Ketchikan Visitors' Bureau.

One of them, made by a local artist, sat in a basket on the silent auction table. It read, "Nowhere, AK, 99901."

Since the day of Palin's announcement, visitors to the southeast Alaska cruise ship port have been fascinated with her, Mackey said. The questions give locals an opening to correct wrong information.

No one is more weary of national attention than Cheryl Metiva, head of the Wasilla Chamber of Commerce. Woe to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd should she ever cross Metiva's path. Dowd was the one who called Wasilla "soulless." It sill bugs Metiva, especially that Dowd chose to interview a sweat-pants clad Wal-Mart shopper, like it was her agenda to make Wasilla look red-neckish.

"She saw exactly what she was looking for and wanted to see," Mativa groused.

She's worked with dozens of journalists from other places and many of them have been perfectly professional, especially those who come from abroad, she said. She had a great time working with The Late Show with David Letterman, which did a top-10 list from Wasilla. Letterman might have been critical of McCain and Palin, she said, but getting her town on television was a good thing.


Mark Hopkin, president of Porcaro Communications, wasn't at the conference, but he's been watching how Alaska is being played in the media. From a marketing standpoint, it helps the state to appear different from the rest of the United States, he said. All the talk of moose hunting, quirky characters and broadcasts from Wasilla bars adds to the mystique, he said.

"From the standpoint of getting people interested in coming to Alaska to visit I think that showing some of Alaska's rough-hewn side is kind of a good thing."

It's like the show "Northern Exposure," which some people didn't like because it seemed phony. Hopkin liked it because, small inaccuracies aside, it made Alaska look unique.

"If people came up here and experienced only the really civilized part of Alaska, they might be a little bit disappointed to find it's in a lot of ways the same as the rest of the country," he said.

Still there is a line. His pet peeve is overdone portrayals of aerial predator control. It makes Alaskans seem blood-thirsty and nature-hating, even though, he said, if you understand the issue, you know a reasonable person could make an argument for it. It never looks good to have people being rude, he said.

"If you are showing people who are racist and saying ignorant things, then that's negative," he said. "You never want people to think that you're nasty intolerant people."

Sometimes Alaska benefits when Palin doesn't. Tina Fey's skits on Saturday Night Live are a good example. They make the state seem quirky but are tough on Palin.

Hopkin can imagine a tourism campaign using Palin's image -- something like "Wanna come to Alaska? You betcha" -- but right now he's cautious. A lot will depend on what happens next month and how people feel afterward.

"I'd probably wait for the dust to settle a little bit," he said.


Confidential records will be shared in new Palin probe UNANIMOUS: Panel gives independent counsel access.

By RACHEL D'ORO The Associated Press

Published: October 17th, 2008 05:35 AM Last Modified: October 17th, 2008 07:59 AM

A legislative panel agreed Thursday to share confidential personnel records with the lawyer who is leading a second abuse-of-power investigation into Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's firing of her public safety commissioner. The Legislative Council voted unanimously to provide the confidential documents to the Personnel Board's independent counsel, Tim Petumenos, who is investigating Palin's firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan.

Petumenos did not attend the brief session in Anchorage on Thursday and did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

Last week, an investigator for the Legislative Council found that Palin was within her right to fire Monegan but had violated ethics laws by trying to get her former brother-in-law, a state trooper, fired.

The probe began before Palin became the GOP vice presidential nominee, but it has taken on broader political implications since then.

Palin originally agreed to cooperate with the Legislature's investigation. But after becoming John McCain's running mate, she said the probe had become too partisan and filed a complaint against herself with the Personnel Board, saying it has the proper authority to investigate ethics allegations against the governor.

Democratic state Sen. Kim Elton, chairman of the Legislative Council, said it was important to share the confidential information to ensure that critical data was not segregated. The council published its findings last week but not the confidential matter.

"I can't speak to whether it will speed up Mr. Petumenos' investigation," Elton said. "I do have to believe that the public component of the report contains most of the information that is pertinent, but conclusions that were drawn in volume one -- the public component -- are backed up by some of the material that has to remain confidential by law."

Under the agreement, neither Petumenos nor the Personnel Board are allowed to reveal contents of the confidential documents without approval from the Legislative Council. That last-minute condition bothered Republican state Rep. Bill Stoltze, who participated by teleconference but didn't vote.

"I just thought we shouldn't put another restriction of confidentiality on this thing," Stoltze told The Associated Press after the meeting. "I thought it was unnecessary and it put out the perception that we're trying to create yet another barrier to public access."

A report by Stephen Branchflower, the council's investigator, concluded that Palin unlawfully abused her power by trying to have her former brother-in-law fired, but it was largely toothless. State lawmakers have no authority to sanction Palin for ethical misconduct. That's up to the three-member Personnel Board, which is appointed by the governor.

Two members are holdovers from the previous governor and Palin reappointed the third.

Members of the board can be fired by the governor for cause.


McCain loss could boost Palin in 2012

by Jerry Kammer - Nov. 5, 2008 12:00 AM

Republic Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - If John McCain fails to win the White House, his running mate, Sarah Palin, could emerge as a GOP front-runner for 2012.

Many see her as inexperienced, but Palin's star could rise if she returns to Alaska and resumes her duties as governor.

"Give her three years to bone up on the issues with a steady stream of experts trekking up to Alaska and three years of giving speeches all over the country, and she might well emerge (as the front-runner)," said Norm Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Also expect to see the return of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, both of whom sought the GOP nomination this year. Other possibilities include Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, South Dakota Sen. John Thune and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio said that if McCain lost, the battered Republican Party would go through a period of soul-searching to agree on its future course. The 2012 nominee would emerge after that period of introspection.

"That would ignite what has been brewing for several years, basically a war between the three major factions in the party: those focused on economic issues, those focused on foreign-policy issues and those focused on moral issues," he said.

Government! Its all about spending other people money the way YOU like to spend money! Source

Aides: Wardrobe, lack of knowledge strained McCain-Palin ticket

by Maeve Reston and Seema Mehta - Nov. 6, 2008 08:50 AM

Los Angeles Times

Sarah Palin left the national stage Wednesday, but the controversy over her role on the ticket flared as aides to John McCain disclosed new details about her expensive wardrobe purchases and revealed that a Republican Party lawyer would be dispatched to Alaska to inventory and retrieve the clothes still in her possession.

Tensions have simmered for much of the last month between aides loyal to McCain and those loyal to Palin, but they erupted in the wake of the Republican nominee's defeat, as both sides spoke freely -- but anonymously -- about the wardrobe controversy and other conflicts.

Two aides to McCain and two to Palin discussed the tensions but asked that their names not be revealed, saying they were not comfortable speaking openly about internal operations.

The miscommunication and quarrels between the two camps continued as late as Tuesday night, said McCain aides familiar with the situation. Palin arrived at the Arizona Biltmore planning to deliver her own speech before McCain's concession speech, they said, but was told by McCain's senior aides Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter that would not be appropriate.

Fox News reported Wednesday that Palin's lack of knowledge on certain topics also strained relations. Carl Cameron reported that campaign sources told him she had resisted coaching before her faltering Katie Couric interviews; did not understand that Africa was a continent, not a country; and could not name the three countries that are part of the North American Free Trade Agreement -- the United States, Canada and Mexico.

For weeks, the McCain-Palin campaign has been dealt with the fallout from the disclosure that the Republican National Committee was billed for $150,000 in wardrobe purchases for the Palin family -- a discovery that was widely ridiculed and undercut Palin's hockey mom appeal.

Several McCain aides said they had recently discovered that Palin's traveling staff had used their personal credit cards to spend as much as $20,000 to $30,000 more on wardrobe items for Palin as she has campaigned around the country in recent weeks.

Palin and many of her aides were traveling back to Alaska Wednesday afternoon and could not be reached for comment.

The original $150,000 in purchases was revealed in late October after the release of the September and October Federal Election Commission filings by the Republican National Committee. Those reports revealed that more than $75,062.63 was spent at Neiman Marcus, $49,425.74 at Saks Fifth Avenue and $5,102.71 at Bloomingdales around the time of the Republican National Convention in early September.

The campaign has said that many of those clothes were returned.

But McCain aides said Wednesday that spending on Palin's wardrobe continued well after the convention, with one custom-made outfit showing up around the time of her Saturday Night Live appearance Oct. 18.

As first reported by Newsweek on Wednesday, McCain aides said some of that money was spent on clothing for Palin's children and husband Todd, who may have received between $20,000 and $40,000 in wardrobe purchases, including thousands of dollars in shoes. Several aides also said the items included jewelry, but a Palin aide disputed that.

Top McCain aides Schmidt, Rick Davis and Nicolle Wallace were flabbergasted by the magnitude of the spending as the receipts began trickling into the Republican National Committee, aides said.

Wallace had arranged for a stylist to shop for Palin before the convention because the Alaska governor did not have a chance to return home after she was selected as McCain's running mate.

Aides familiar with the campaign's internal discussions said Wallace and other top aides authorized the purchase of three outfits for Palin to wear during convention week and three ensembles for the campaign trail. But cost was to be kept to no more than $25,000 to $35,000.

When Schmidt learned that Palin's staff was putting clothing purchases on their personal credit cards -- to be reimbursed later -- aides said he called them to stop it. Palin aides tell a different story. Several close to the governor said Wednesday that Palin was outraged by the amount of money being spent on her clothing and that she was naive about what the clothes cost.

"The very first day of shopping, there was a $14,000 price tag and ... she was absolutely shocked," one of the Palin aides said.

She was not pleased by what had been selected for her, the aide said, adding that "a lot of that stuff that was purchased was never worn by her -- that was by her choice."

When the shopping spree hit the press, she appeared frustrated, and she told audiences that she wears a lot of her own clothing and hadn't asked for the lavish purchases.

Resentments had started to brew earlier. Palin was not comfortable with the team of handlers sent in by party headquarters to manage her appearances, and there were frequent conflicts between the staff at headquarters and her traveling staff. Palin felt constrained by the fact that she had little decision-making power, and questioned the directions being given to her by the campaign, an aide said.

In an interview with CNN Wednesday, Palin denied that there were tensions between the McCain camp and her own. But that is at odds with accounts from aides on both sides. The strained relationship worsened, the aides said, after Palin was recorded talking to a Canadian comedian who pretended to be French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Campaign staffers said McCain's top aides were blindsighted by the Sarkozy call, which they said was arranged by Palin's top foreign policy aide Steve Biegun.

McCain aides said the Palin camp did notify McCain's senior staff or the State Department of the supposed contact. Outraged, Schmidt organized a conference call immediately. He demanded to know who arranged the call, and questioned why anyone would have agreed to such an unusual request and then fail to clear it with top staff, McCain aides said.

Biegun immediately took responsibility. In an interview Wednesday, he said some aides at McCain headquarters were in fact aware of the call, and that it had been on the schedule for "a couple days."

"I was fooled," he said Wednesday night. "No one's going to beat me up more than I beat myself up for setting up the governor like that."


Can Sarah Palin resurrect the GOP? Does she want to?

Nov. 6, 2008 12:26 PM

Associated Press

WASILLA, Alaska - Is Sarah Palin the answer for defeated Republicans?

After a historic rebuke at the polls, the Republican Party is staggering into an uncertain tomorrow with the White House and Congress in Democratic hands, no certain leader in sight and its membership divided over what it means to be a Republican.

Ever since her selection as John McCain's running mate in late August, Palin, the 44-year-old Alaska governor, was the star of the GOP ticket, though views of her vary wildly across the political spectrum. With the Republican brand corroded and the hunt on for the next Ronald Reagan, Palin could be one of many people competing to influence Republican ideas in the post-Bush era, maybe even as the party's leader.

"Conservatives are still looking for Mr. Right. And maybe Mr. Right turns out to be Ms. Right," said Bill Whalen, a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution.

Palin "has built-in national stature and she's beloved by conservative talk radio," Whalen said. But "does she want to be a stay-at-home mom and a stay-at-home governor, or does she want to be a player on the national stage? She has to make a choice."

She has done little to discourage speculation - begun even as McCain's campaign faded - that she could return to the ballot four years from now.

In her hometown of Wasilla in the Anchorage suburbs, "Palin 2012" T-shirts are already for sale.

When she returned to Alaska on Wednesday night after losing the election, she was greeted at the Anchorage airport by chants of "2012! 2012!" Asked by reporters if she might run for president, Palin said, "We'll see what happens then."

Grover Norquist, a leading conservative and president of Americans for Tax Reform, called Palin "one of five or six people who is a plausible candidate for president in 2012," along with familiar names like Mitt Romney, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

"She's in the top tier, but she's not next in line." Norquist said. Running as vice president "puts you in contention."

Any number of other Republicans may step forward. Romney, the ex-Massachusetts governor who lost the nomination this year, has restarted his political action committee. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is heading to the leadoff caucus state of Iowa on Nov. 22 to deliver the keynote address to a conservative group.

For two intense months, Palin was the youthful foil to the old, sometimes cranky McCain. She was called everything from an empty skirt to the real deal. McCain, in defeat, called her "an impressive new voice in our party."

"She's somewhat of a diamond in the rough," said former Republican National Committee member Barbara Alby, who credits Palin with energizing the ticket. "I expect she'll grow from that."

But any path toward 2012 is filled with obstacles, some of Palin's own making.

Virtually unknown outside Alaska before her nomination, Palin revealed strong - even polarizing - views on religion, abortion and gay marriage.

She became a favorite among some social conservatives, but her cringe-worthy performances in TV interviews raised questions about her competence and provided fodder for late-night comedians. Her charisma attracted tens of thousands to Republican rallies, but voter surveys found her presence tilted a majority of independents and moderates to Barack Obama.

The governor who once won a Miss Congeniality prize was McCain's muscle, thrashing the media and her Democratic rivals in the conventional vice presidential role.

Her national political persona now bears little resemblance to her image as governor, when she was known for pushing a pipeline to carry natural gas from Alaska's North Slope, a bipartisan streak and taming the state's Republican establishment.

Some see her as a possible candidate for the Senate, should a vacancy occur, which would give her a new platform for her ambitions. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, was clinging to a narrow lead in a re-election bid after being convicted of lying on Senate financial disclosure forms. Palin and others have called for him to step aside, even if he wins.

But Palin has rebuilding to do in Alaska. Voter surveys there show she remains popular, but Democrats are now more likely to view her negatively. On Wednesday, she said she hoped to show President-elect Obama how Alaska could be a leader in energy policy.

"Everybody in Alaska is seeing her in a new light," said Jonathan Anderson, a Juneau City Assembly member and a professor at the University of Alaska Southeast.

"We knew she'd been the basketball player and beauty pageant contestant - and not too much more beyond that," said Anderson, a political independent. "She's back down with the human beings now, instead of being the star. Those things are going to follow her."

Mike Cannon, 41, who works on tugboats and fishing vessels, remains a Palin fan but was surprised by her emphasis on conservative social values during the campaign. "I don't agree with a lot of that stuff," he said in downtown Anchorage, nursing a cup of coffee.

The campaign, Cannon added, "revealed more and more of her limitations."

If she wants to lead the party, she'll need to find a way to stay visible in the lower 48 states - sooner rather than later.

"There continues to be a great deal of interest in her," said New Hampshire GOP Chairman Fergus Cullen, but "interest has a shelf life."


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