Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin shocked many in the state when she called into a local radio talk show on Wednesday morning, and seemingly endorsed independent Gov. Bill Walker, took swipes at current Gov. Sean Parnell and called those who supported the current oil tax regime “crony capitalists.”
Parnell was Palin’s lieutenant governor and took over for her after she quit her job in 2009. He then was elected in 2010 and is currently running for reelection. One of his biggest victories since being governor was to change the oil tax structure, termed ACES that Palin fought hard for and enacted in 2007 on the heels of a federal corruption scandal involving oil field services contractor VECO and state legislators.
Palin appears to say on the Bob & Mark show, which has long supported Palin, that the reason Parnell changed the tax structure was because of his ties to the oil industry, including his former job as a lobbyist for ConocoPhillips.
“Bless his heart. Remember that Sean Parnell came from the oil industry…lobbying for the cause there. Perhaps that’s ingrained in him,” Palin said. (Listen to the full interview here.)
The tax structure enacted by Palin included a steep windfall tax, and bulged state coffers as oil prices rose in the last few years. The new tax regime, which is highly supported by the oil industry, takes less on the high side but is said to protect the state as prices drop.
A measure to repeal the tax will appear on the August primary ballot. The oil companies have spent more than $8 million so far fighting against the repeal effort, which is supported by Walker and by many in the Democratic Party.
Palin said that those who don’t support the repeal are “buying into the highly funded PR campaign” waged by the oil industry.
“People need to remember what crony capitalism is all about.” She also said that there are still “remnants” of the “Corrupt Bastards Club” in the state, referring to the words on some pro-oil legislators’ baseball caps, which were designed as a joke.
Bob and Mark asked Palin if she could, would she go back in time and choose a lieutenant governor other than Parnell. Instead of answering directly, Palin changed the subject and praised Walker. She said that he’s “absolutely spot on,” and that he has the “thumb on the pulse of most Alaskans.”
She also said that Alaska needs a governor who is a fighter.
Is that Parnell? they asked. She laughed and said, “I want to make sure we’re tuned into all the debates to find out who that fighter is.”
It’s been years since Palin has weighed in on state issues. However, she said that she’s happy to do so, indicating that this isn’t the last time that the state will hear from her between now and the election.
Contact Amanda Coyne at firstname.lastname@example.org