I laugh every time I hear Sarah Palin described as a “Maverick”. Let me tell you, it is a myth! Alaska sports nearly as many corrupt politicians as we have mosquitoes. To be a “Maverick Republican” in Alaska, all you have to do is NOT have your house raided by the FBI, NOT be indicted, or NOT be sitting in a federal prison for selling your vote to the oil or prison industry. Considering she has just hired an attorney to defend her in the state’s investigation of abuse of power, she no longer qualifies as a “maverick” even by our own weak standard. Alaska is often described as a “Red State”, but more Alaskans are registered to vote as Independent or non-partisan than Democrat and Republican combined. For years, evidence was presented to multiple governors and state attorney generals of the corruption between Big Oil and elected legislators. All fell on oily deaf ears.
When Sarah Palin was running in the Republican Primary against Incumbent Frank Murkowski, the FBI began raiding the offices of state officials. Under that cloud, the freshness of Sarah swept the election. She was elected more for the outrage and overt hatred of Republican Frank Murkowski as she was for being a reformer. Consider Frank’s baggage:
- Frank displayed obvious nepotism in his appointment of his own daughter to his US Senate seat. Lisa Murkowski nearly lost her Alaska State House Seat in a runoff after a close election before her appointment.
- Frank eliminated the longevity bonus for seniors living in Alaska.
- Frank relaxed oil and mining permitting regulations.
- Frank collapsed the Habitat Division of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game into the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Habitat was responsible for holding DNR to high environmental regulatory standards to protect fish and wildlife.
- Frank bought a jet to replace the official state plane against the wishes of the People and the Alaska State legislature. The new jet would not have the capability to land on most of the rural gravel runways in Bush Alaska. Sarah Palin sold the jet at a $592,600 loss once elected.
- Frank combined frequent Lower 48 personal and business travel on the new state jet. In most cases, thousands of dollars would have been saved had Frank and his wife just flown first class.
- Frank secretly negotiated a corporate giveaway via a new oil net profits tax that would threaten 85% of Alaska’s state revenue stream.
- Frank pardoned Whitewater Engineering. An Alaska jury found the Bellingham company guilty of negligently murdering employee Gary Stone. Frank thought the verdict was too tough and issued a pardon on his last day in office.
I sat through hours of testimony and trials of the self named Corrupt Bastards Club. Yes, the CBC, all with emblazoned hats and shirts. Hours of FBI secret filming of Room 604 in Juneau’s Baranof Hotel, played like a grainy episode of the Sopranos meets Gunsmoke. Endless bottles of booze, swagger, swearing, and the cartoon laughter of powerful oil men buying powerful legislators filled the federal courtroom. The selling of votes was enraging, selling them so cheap was insulting.
The FBI and the Department of Justice have been hard at work in the 49th State. I showed up at Ted Steven’s house when the raid of the most senior Republican Senator was in progress. Our one and only congressman for Alaska is under multiple investigations; not only by the FBI, but by his own colleagues in Congress. Former Senator and Governor Frank Murkowski must be squirming since his former Chief of Staff, Jim Clark, pled guilty a few months ago. We have three former state officials serving time for selling their votes to Big Oil, one for selling his to the prison industry, and more on the way.
John McCain loves his “maverick” title, and wants to crown Sarah with it as well. A “maverick” in Washington D.C. wouldn’t vote with George Bush 90% of the time, and a “maverick” in Alaska just has to stay out of the sights of the law. Well, Sarah has now hired an attorney to take care of her needs during an investigation of her abuse of power. The Maverick Myth Debunked.