Tag Archives: sarah palin

The pack’s take on Brat

Here’s some excerpts from pieces on the historic beating of Virginia House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by Dave Brat, a relatively unknown economics professor from Randolph-Macon College. A few things to keep in mind: Cantor spent about $4.9 million on operating expenditures this election cycle. He still had more than $3.7 million on hand late last month. Brat spent just under $123,000 on operating expenditures. Cantor spent $168,000 alone at a D.C. steakhouse. No doubt many who regularly dine at that D.C. steak house are rattled, and at least two Alaskans are gleeful. Read on.

From a Joe Miller press release:

‘The Party elite always play the same game: use unreliable polling and the media to try to convince voters there is no way to defeat their hand-picked candidates. The people are not buying it,’ said Miller spokesman Randy DeSoto. ‘They know Washington is the problem and sending more there who want to play the Establishment game will not restore freedom or revive our economy. Based on what we’ve be seeing here in Alaska, the grassroots have another surprise in store for the Establishment in August.’

Brat does sound an awful lot like a gentler Joe Miller:

From a Washington Post blog post:

(W)ith Eric Cantor’s shocking defeat Tuesday night, things for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable just got a whole lot worse. For one, they lost a major defender of their favored policies–from the beneficial tax treatment of private equity income to immigration reforms favored by the country’s biggest tech companies. But even worse for their prospects, Cantor lost to a challenger who specifically attacked him for his close ties to big business — going so far as to single out the BRT and the Chamber. “The central theme of Brat’s campaign is that Cantor is beholden to business — specifically the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable,” wrote Politico in April.

The big lesson: don’t trust the polling. From a June 6 Washington Post story:

A poll conducted late last month for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) shows him with a wide lead over challenger David Brat heading toward next Tuesday’s Republican primary election. The poll, shared with Post Politics, shows Cantor with a 62 percent to 28 percent lead over Brat, an economics professor running to Cantor’s right. Eleven percent say they are undecided. The internal survey of 400 likely Republican primary voters was conducted May 27 and 28 by John McLaughlin of McLaughlin & Associates. It carries a margin of error of +/-4.9 percentage points.

From Sarah Palin’s Facebook page.

Tonight’s victory showed the power of the local grassroots – the ones with boots on the ground who put up the campaign signs and go door to door to provide needed support for great candidates…Grassroots commonsense conservatives can use this momentum to push good candidates like Chris McDaniel, T.W. Shannon, and Rob Maness to victory for America. These candidates are also being massively outspent by establishment candidates and they need our help and energy.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Palin praises Walker, swipes at Parnell and calls out Alaska ‘crony capitalists’

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 amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Christians respond to Palin’s baptism-by-waterboarding comment

Speaking to the NRA, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said on Saturday that if she were in charge of the country, our “enemies,” would “know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.” The line drew huge applause from the audience and is now also drawing condemnation from Christians on both sides of the political spectrum. Below are a few responses to the comments:

From Joe Carter of The Gospel Coalition:

For anyone to confess Christ as their savior and to compare one of the means of God’s grace to a reprehensible act of torture is reprehensible. I hope members of Gov. Palin’s local church will explain to her why her remarks denigrate the Christian faith. Such remarks bring shame on the Body of Christ and to our witness in the world…

From Rod Dreher of the American Conservative:

Not only is this woman, putatively a Christian, praising torture, but she is comparing it to a holy sacrament of the Christian faith. It’s disgusting — but even more disgusting, those NRA members, many of whom are no doubt Christians, cheered wildly for her…For us Christians, baptism is the entry into new life. Palin invoked it to celebrate torture…What does it say about the character of a person that they could make that joking comparison, and that so many people would cheer for it. Nothing good — and nothing that does honor to the cause of Jesus Christ.

From Hollis Phelps, in Religious Dispatches:

As a sacrament to many Christians, baptism signifies regeneration, the rebirth of the individual as “a new creature” in Christ. So understood, baptism is a work of grace; it is, as Gregory of Nazianzus says, “God’s most beautiful and magnificent gift.” To equate it with torture is, in this sense, not only unthinking, but borders on the sacrilegious.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Sarah Palin to start her own digital video channel

A solid news site, Capital New York, gets the scoop on Sarah Palin’s upcoming video channel, called “Rogue TV,” which is expected to launch in April or May:

Fox News contributor and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will be launching her own digital video channel, tentatively called “Rogue TV,” a source familiar with the project told Capital. The channel will be available through Tapp, the digital video service founded by former CNN chief Jon Klein and former NBC Universal entertainment executive Jeff Gaspin. Subscriptions will cost $10 per month. Rogue is expected to launch in April or May, and it would be one of the first of the digital channels offered by Tapp. Palin’s channel will feature video commentaries from the former Republican vice-presidential candidate, discussing current events and political issues.

Continue reading here. 


Quote of the day: Palin reimagines Green Eggs and Ham

From Sarah Palin’s keynote speech at the American Conservative Union’s annual CPAC conference:

Sarah Palin’s debuted her own version of the classic tale for today’s CPAC audience: “I do not like this Uncle Sam. I do not like his health care scam. I do not like these dirty crooks, or how they lie and cook the books. I do not like when Congress steals, I do not like their crony deals. I do not like this spying, man, I do not like, Oh, Yes we can, I do not like this spending spree, we’re smart, we know there’s nothing free. I do not like reporters’ smug replies when I complain about their lies. I do not like this kind of hope, and we won’t take it, nope, nope, nope.

Continue reading


Quotes of the day: Nugent, Palin and Perry

“I have obviously failed to galvanize and prod, if not shame enough Americans to be ever vigilant not to let a Chicago communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel like the ACORN community organizer gangster Barack Hussein Obama to weasel his way into the top office of authority in the United States of America,” – Ted Nugent, last month

“(C)heck the box for another good conservative – Greg Abbott for Governor of Texas. If he is good enough for Ted Nugent, he is good enough for me,” – Sarah Palin, on Feb. 19.

“I’ve got a problem with someone calling the president a ‘mongrel,” — Texas Gov. Rick Perry, on Feb. 20. Continue reading


Sarah Palin’s PAC continues to spend and receive

Roll Call’s Money Line is reporting that Sarah Palin’s political action committee, Sarah PAC, spent more than $700,000 in the last six months of 2013.

According to Roll Call, the PAC took in $717,264 and spent $713,551. It still has $1,117,684 on hand:

The PAC spent $242,673 on direct mail and postage; $101,500 on consultants; $69,000 on consultants for fundraising and compliance; $35,750 on research; $26,000 on speechwriting; and $9,909 on Harper Collins books for donors; among other expenditures. The report stated the PAC “did no advocacy.”The PAC gave $5,000 on 10/8 to Lonegan for Senate in the New Jersey Senate special election.

Read more here. Continue reading


Palin defends McCain who received censure from state party

Sarah Palin defended Sen. John McCain on Facebook on Monday after the Arizona state Republicans voted to censure McCain for not being conservative enough and for occasionally crossing the aisle to vote with Democrats on immigration and healthcare. This sounds much like the same faction of conservatives that voted to censure U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski in 2012 for conspiring with “far left groups.”

From Palin’s Facebook post:

During this time of dangerous lawlessness in the executive branch, those who agree on stopping the intended transformation of our country had better unite to fight. So at this time, it’s perplexing to see Senator McCain’s good efforts to uncover the Obama agenda being ignored and perhaps even hindered now by those wanting to censure the Arizona senator…We live in a time of diminishing virtues because of societal influence towards total self-centeredness. This is unfortunate and makes raising families, conducting business, and governing that much more challenging. I know how important the virtue of loyalty is because in politics it’s pretty much nonexistent. I stand on that most important virtue and answer those asking today: ‘Yes, I am proud to have been asked to run with him in 2008, and he is my friend.’ One more thing, if you’ve met his beautiful mother you know where he gets his tenacity. Roberta McCain is one tough Mama Grizzly.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com 


Loose Lips: Kerttula is leaving us. Obi-Wan Kenobi protects us, and Palin plays solitaire.

15770860_mThe big news, which I got off the record from numerous sources, is that House Minority Leader Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, is going to resign to take a fellowship at Stanford University. It’s a huge loss for the state and for the Dems. Kerttula is one of the nicest, and smartest legislators in Alaska.

No word yet who will take her seat. The Juneau Dems, officially the Tongass Democrats, will make recommendations to Gov. Sean Parnell, who will pick. Jesse Kiehl, who declined comment until a later day, will likely be among many who are interested. Kiehl is a staffer for Sen. Dennis Egan and is on the Juneau Assembly. He put his name in for the Senate seat in 2009, when Kim Elton left for the Obama Administration. Kim Metcalfe’s name is also being floated.

Also no word yet on who will be the new House Minority Leader. Speculation is centered around Reps. Les Gara and David Guttenberg, although Chris Tuck might also be an interesting choice.

On to happier news: Say what you want about how sites like BuzzFeed and Zimbio have contributed to the decline of society, but they sure know how to get people’s attention. The various made-for-Facebook personality quizzes are all the rage. You know, the kind that young girls used to pour over in Seventeen Magazine? Yes, those ones have been basically repackaged for a co-ed audience. The most recent is Zimbio’s Star Wars personality test. Everyone’s doing it! And it’s, like, super fun! Even DNR commissioner Joe Balash, was like, I’ll go for it. YOLO. Turns out his Star Wars doppelganger is Obi-Wan Kenobi. Perhaps that will give the public some confidence that the governor has chosen Balash, AKA Obi, to negotiate terms with the largest private companies in the world, under which multi-billion, 800 mile natural gas pipeline might be built. House Majority spokesperson Will Vandergriff was Chewbacca.

How does Sarah Palin try to get attention on Martin Luther King day? She plays the race card by telling others not to. Here’s what she posted on Facebook: “Mr. President, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. and all who commit to ending any racial divide, no more playing the race card.” Perhaps someone should suggest to Palin that playing all that solitaire during those long dark winter days can make you a little nutty. In other words, Palin, stop playing cards.

The Department of Health and Social Services computer software transition is going about as well as the federal government’s health exchange site was before it got fixed. The department has been having problems paying Medicaid providers since September and unlike the feds, state officials are mum as to when the problem is expected to be fixed. Meanwhile the frustration and grumbling amongst Medicaid health care providers has been growing. Word is that Fairbanks Republican Rep. Pete Higgins, who is chair of the House Health and Social Services committee, is considering having hearings.

Former Anchorage school board member Crystal Kennedy has joined Rep. Lynn Gattis’ staff. Kennedy served as the campaign manager in Larry Woods’ race against Lora Reinbold. Gattis and Reinbold are both Republican freshman legislators who could be sisters. But they’re not. Not even close. Besides, Reinbold seems to have plenty enough sisters, one of whom is a doctor and is continually invited by Reinbold to testify at committee hearings to slam ObamaCare. The other is Reinbold’s twin.

State law prohibits legislators from fundraising when the Legislature is in session. And the governor cannot raise money from Juneau residents during session either. The laws seem screwy, if not blatantly unconstitutional. Regardless of my opinions on the matter, Monday was a big money day. House and Senate Democrats had a fundraiser at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum. Meantime, House and Senate Republican majority members were at the Hangar Ballroom on Juneau’s waterfront. Gov. Sean Parnell hosted an event at the Baranof’s Gastineau suite.

And that was how our lawmakers and our governor spent the night before session.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com 


Hey Sarah Palin: Your tea cups are cracking.

tea cup It was not a good week for many Republicans, particularly the roughly half of the party’s current House members who were elected in 2010 or 2012, and marched into Washington with tea cups balanced on their heads. And it certainly wasn’t a good week for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who helped get many of them elected.

In fact, it probably is on the list of her three worst weeks. The first being the week she quit her job. Second, when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, on Palin’s “crosshair” list, was shot. And then this week, a candidate in New Jersey that she had fought hard for, Steve Lonegan, lost his bid for Senate against Cory Booker, who, in Palin’s words, is a “celebrity stand in” for Obama. Whatever that means.

The “celebrity stand-in” thrashed Lonegan, 54.6 percent to 44.4 percent.

And then, of course, the end of the shutdown on Wednesday night. It was something that she and her tea party brethren fought hard against. They lost with nothing to show for it except for mammoth cracks in those tea cups.

People have been predicting Palin’s demise, and what she represents, since she took the national stage in 2008. I haven’t gone along with them until maybe this week, when the business community finally wised up to the fact that their once beloved fiscal conservative tea partiers not only don’t care about them, but seem intent on destroying them.

As the Washington Post put it, the shutdown exposed the fissures between powerful business interests and tea party lawmakers and activist groups like the Heritage Action and the Club for Growth

The Post quotes Dirk Van Dongen, longtime chief lobbyist for the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, as saying, “I don’t know of anybody in the business community who takes the side of the Taliban minority.”

For any lobbyist to speak so brazenly about the tea party is perhaps the best indicator yet that the movement is caving in on itself.

On her Facebook page, Palin promises that she isn’t done yet. “We’re going to shake things up in 2014. Rest well tonight, for soon we must focus on important House and Senate races,” she wrote. “Let’s start with Kentucky – which happens to be awfully close to South Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi – from sea to shining sea we will not give up. We’ve only just begun to fight.”

According to the Washington Post, however, the lead trade associations are talking about helping candidates who will challenge the tea party congressmen, the ones that Palin helped elect.

On this one, I’ll bet on the business interests and trade associations, whom Palin and her ilk call “crony capitalists” and have vowed to destroy. I’ll bet on the backbone of America, which is really who those associations represent, the ones who have finally woken up and are ready to fight.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Sarah Palin storms the gates

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin followed the crowd and the cameras to appear at a protest in D.C. at the World War II Memorial on the National Mall on Sunday, where the crowd pushed past barriers to protest the memorial’s closing under the government shutdown.

Prior to the rally, she met with some of the architects of the government shutdown: Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee.

It’s unclear what they talked about, but it was unlikely that they discussed how the Veterans Affairs Department has furloughed almost 8,000 employees, half of whom are veterans. Or how they should do all that they can to open up the government so that servicemen can get their disability payments on time.

The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf has more to say on the subject:

[E]ven when the federal government is functioning normally, it fails to adequately care for the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, who are suffering from high rates of suicide, PTSD, and joblessness, in large part due to the wars of choice they were asked to fight and that conservatives, who are still allied with a faction of hawks urging even more wars of choice, overwhelmingly backed.

This, it probably goes without saying, will not change by storming the barriers to a monument in D.C.

Here’s Palin’s speech in full:

We were proud to stand with thousands of America’s vets and other patriotic Americans today in Washington, D.C. This morning, Todd and I met with Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, and they joined us and other Americans at the World War II Memorial and then at the Lincoln Memorial, where we were met by a SWAT team in full riot gear! Watching those who have fought to protect freedom prevented by barricades from visiting these memorials to freedom was truly heart wrenching. Seeing the unity of the American people as they joined together and rose up against this out of touch government was an inspiration. God bless our veterans, those who continue to serve, and their families.

I’ll be posting an album of some photos from today. Below are the brief remarks I gave today:

We’re here to show that the size of America’s heart for our veterans is immeasurable! But look around – barricades to shut down our memorials? Is this how a Commander in Chief expresses his gratitude? This “shutdown” priority proves a shameful lack of respect. It reflects a person’s lack of valor.

But, Vets, We the People have learned from you! We know America will only remain the “Home of the Free” so long as we are the “Home of the Brave!”

So, as we honor you, U.S. Military, know that our gratitude will not sleep! We will be brave! You were not timid, so we shall not be timid in calling out ANY who heart-wrenchingly would use you as pawns in a political game.

America’s finest paid the price for our freedom today. Vets, you protected us from tyranny then. Rest now, it is OUR turn to protect against tyranny again.

Ronald Reagan said, “Some people live an entire lifetime wondering if they ever made a difference in the world.” YOU, vets, need never ask that of yourselves. You made ALL the difference!

Our war memorials remind us of the cost to keep us free. YOU paid the price! Rest now! We will pick up the mantle. We won’t let you down. We now take up the fight for freedom!

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Sarah Palin’s money-pit of a sports complex

According to the Anchorage Daily News, former Palmer Mayor John Combs resigned Wednesday as Wasilla’s recreation and cultural services director because someone ratted on him about having a few beers while on duty at a boxing event at the city’s sports center. Also, someone, perhaps the same person, reported him as a possible drunk driver after he left the event.

He wasn’t. He only registered .06. The limit is .08.

Apparently, Combs has an enemy or two. In March, members of the Wasilla City Council proposed firing Combs ostensibly to save his $90,000 a year salary. The amendment didn’t pass.

Wasilla grudges can be fascinating. But the most interesting part of the story was about the financial shape of the Wasilla Sports Complex. Alaskans might recall that in 2002, Wasilla passed a .5 percent sales tax to pay for what was then billed as a $14.7 million multi-use center. The measure passed by only 20 votes, 306 to 286.

One of the major proponents of the center was then Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin. She and a group of boosters sold it the public by assuring them that it would be profitable.

Getting the tax passed was one of her biggest achievements while mayor. The vote’s slim margin, Palin said, was proof of the city’s fiscal conservatism.

How’s it doing now? In 2010, the city subsidized the center at a cost of $800,000. Things haven’t improved much since, according to the ADN:

The Menard Center has struggled financially in recent years since it opened in 2005. The center’s total operating revenues peaked at $728,000 in 2007 and dropped to the lowest level, $544,000, in 2011 according to a July report from Wasilla finance director Troy Tankersley. Total operating expenses, however, swelled from $789,000 in 2005 to $1,169,000, a 49 percent increase.

At least now the city will save $90,000.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Government shutdown: Treadwell aligns with Joe Miller and Sarah Palin

On her Facebook page, former Gov. Sarah Palin is making light of the potential for a government shutdown, a possibility that appears more and more possible by the hour. She posted a “funny” list of all the possible negative impacts of a shutdown. “If the government shuts down, who will, “block responsible resource development, spy on me, waste my money…” she posted. The list goes on. Sarah Palin has made millions since quitting her job as governor in 2010.

Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, who is running for the U.S. Senate, also appears to support a shutdown. He called those who were trying to do so “courageous,” and said that if he were a senator, he would “stand” with those who were advocating such a move. Joe Miller, the other candidate running in the Republican primary, also supports those who are advocating a shutdown.

Miller’s financial situation is hazy. Treadwell makes $135,000 as lieutenant governor. He makes as much as $200,000 a year in addition to his salary from investments and other income. In Anchorage, his assessed property values total more than $2 million.

In other words, both Treadwell and Palin can afford a government shutdown. They are doing fine and will continue to do so, regardless of whether the government stays open for business. Those who don’t have those resources that these two have will be the ones who are hurt: many of those “proud men and women” wearing our country’s uniform, the elderly, the disabled, those who are trying to build their retirement accounts. The stock market has already lost value in the last two days, and will likely continue to fall if the government shuts down. It will also likely push up interest rates.

Alaska’s congressional delegation, Sens. Mark Begich, Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young, all are trying to avoid the shutdown and the mess that could result. Young for one, has lived through one and didn’t like the experience. Murkowski said a shutdown would put the government in “total disarray.”

Here’s just a few of some of the possible effects that it might have on Alaskans:

Unlike Joe Miller, Mead Treadwell is not known as a true believer. But he does appear to believe that advocating for those who are supporting a shutdown will peel off Miller supporters. He can afford to gamble on such a position, financially at least. It’s likely a stupid political move, however. Those thousands of Alaskans who are going to feel the effects are likely going to make him pay at the voting booth. And Miller’s people are nothing if not good at spotting panderers and apostates.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Palin on why Republicans in Alaska don’t like her

On Fox News Tuesday, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin likened what’s going on with Sen. Ted Cruz with what happened to her in Alaska:

“Am I surprised that RINOs would turn on one who would stand strong on [conservative] planks? No, because some of us have lived through that,” Palin said. “I’ve always been very, very independent. Up here in Alaska, it’s why I’m not in the good graces of the Alaskan political party when it comes to republican machinery.”

Palin spent much time Tuesday urging Cruz to continue to try to delay a Senate vote on whether or not to defund the Affordable Care Act as part of a budget package.

In an attempt to delay the vote, Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee spent more than 20 hours in front of a mic on the Senate floor. Here’s her tweet from last night as he was speaking:

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com 


Gov. Sean Parnell’s friends with benefits

In 2008, the New York Times swooped into the state after Sarah Palin’s veep announcement and wrote about how many friends she had hired as governor. “The Wasilla High School yearbook archive now doubles as a veritable directory of state government,” the paper wrote. Many of us already knew this to be the case, but we collectively shrugged our shoulders. This kind of stuff happens in Alaska all the time, in a small state with a shallow talent pool, in a place so far away from the rest of the country.

Successful people, in a position to do so, do often hire their friends and people in their social circles. Generally there’s nothing wrong with that. It can get a little murky, however, when you’re in public office and your friends and their friends are being paid with public money.

To be clear: just because something’s murky doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. But it is something to watch. And Gov. Sean Parnell’s penchant for hiring friends and being good to friends of friends, no matter how talented and well qualified, needs many more eyes on it than it currently has.

Parnell was a legislator from 1992 to 2002. It’s said that during that time among his closest friends were Sen. Pete Kellly, former Sen. Gene Therriault and former Rep. Mark Hanley.

Below is a list of what has happened to them and some of their staff since:

  • Sen. Pete Kelly left the Legislature in 2003 to work as a university lobbyist. Parnell hired him in 2009 as a special assistant in the governor’s office shortly after Palin resigned. Parnell supported Kelly in his bid to get back into the Legislature in 2012.
  • Back when Parnell and Kelly hung out together as legislators, Parnell got to know Kelly’s legislative aide Bryan Butcher. After winning the election, Parnell hired Butcher to be his commissioner of Revenue. More recently, Parnell moved Butcher to Alaska House Finance Corp. where he’ll serve as executive director, making a whopping $250,000 a year. It should be noted that Butcher’s qualifications include a degree in speech communication from Oregon University.
  • Shortly after Palin resigned, Parnell hired former Sen. Gene Therriault as a special adviser on energy. The hiring was ultimately deemed illegal by Alaska’s attorney general because Therriault had not yet been out of the Legislature for a year prior to the hire. Therriault then went to work for Golden Valley Electric in Fairbanks, where, among other things, he worked to try to get the state to help finance a natural gas liquefaction plant on the North Slope. After being liquefied, the gas would be trucked to Fairbanks. In 2012, Therriault left Golden Valley and Parnell appointed him to be the deputy director of Alaska’s Energy Authority, a division of Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, or AIDEA. In both of these roles, Therriault was instrumental in getting Parnell’s support for the trucking plan and the liquefaction plant. A bill was passed last legislative session which included $362.5 million of financing for the plan, including giving AIDEA the authority to offer $275 million in low interest financing.
  • Therriault’s staff did pretty well too. Joe Balash for one, went from Therriault’s office to work as a special assistant to Parnell. He then moved to DNR as deputy commissioner and is now the acting commissioner. Heather Brakes, also from Therriault’s office, is Parnell’s legislative director. Former Therriault staffer Wilda Laughlin was the DHSS legislative liaison until a recent ill-fated, hot mic issue. She’s still at HSS, but in a less high profile position.
  • Then there’s former Rep. Mark Hanley. He left the Legislature in 1998 to work for big bucks in the oil industry; however, he also worked closely with Parnell as a kitchen cabinet adviser and helped him prepare his first budget. Possibly coincidentally, in 2011 Mark’s brother Mike was appointed as Commissioner to the Department of Education. Kip Knudson who worked for Hanley was hired to run the state’s airports and later took over Parnell’s Washington D.C. office when John Katz retired. Michelle Toohey also worked for Hanley. She was in Parnell’s press office until moving to Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell’s office, where she is chief of staff.

It’s often the case that politicians hire friends and reward political support and loyalty. But just because it happens all the time doesn’t mean that we should collectively shrug our shoulders.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com