The following is a collaboration between Whitney and myself.
Former Anchorage Daily News editor, Matt Zencey, took to the Huffington Post, essentially the national version of the ADN with their bias against Governor Palin, to blast and misrepresent Governor Palin’s record and question her conservatism and appeal among Tea Partiers.
First, Zencey parrots the oft made charges of Dan Fagan— that Governor Palin cost Alaska’ s industry billions of dollars:
While governor, Sarah Palin supported and signed the largest tax increase in Alaska’s history. That change in oil taxes, which she dubbed ACES (“Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share”), cost the state’s largest industry an extra $4 billion.
Interestingly, in this charge, Zencey links an opinion piece that praises the tax credits that ACES also provides the oil industry to offset the high costs of production and speaks highly of the increases in oil company jobs following the implementation of ACES. As we have stated in refudiation of Dan Fagan and Craig Medred, Governor Palin supported ACES because the Alaska state constitution stated that energy development should be done for the “maximum benefit of the people” and that these resources belonged to Alaskans. This legislation ultimately meant that the natural resource “shareholders”, Alaskans, received a maximum profit. What this legislation also led to was an increased number of oil wells started, activity at Pt. Thomson after 30 years of development inactivity, profit and development friendly tax credits that have helped both large and small oil companies, and record highs in oil industry jobs.
Zencey then goes on to question Governor Palin’s budgeting practices:
In 2007, the first full year of her term, she and the Legislature added $1.4 billion to the previously passed budget. For that year, Alaska state government spent 50 percent more, per resident, than the next highest spending state.
To attempt justify his claim, he links Governor Palin’s FY2008 and FY2009 budget (although the link he attempts to share in the aforementioned quote is not found). Here is what he was likely intending to link. Taking into account the Alaska Permanent Fund, the FY2008 budget (passed in 2007) Governor Palin signed was $11,471,100,000, and the FY2009 budget is $11, 433, 520, 000, indicating that Governor Palin actually cut spending by nearly $40 million. The FY2007 budget passed by her predecessor, Governor Murkowski was $11, 697,400,000–more than $200 million more than Governor Palin’s FY2008 budget. In fact, as the late Kathy Carpenter highlighted, Governor Palin cut spending 9.5% between her FY2010 budget compared to Murkowski’s FY2007 budget.
Zencey cites a comment posted at ADN to prove that Governor Palin is really a closet leftist:
A liberal columnist for the state’s largest newspaper, Elstun Lauesen, said Palin was “a pretty good socialist governor.”
Elstun Lauesen may be a liberal but he is not a columnist. His ridiculous statement was listed as a “comment” not an article. Zencey is merely citing the rantings of a liberal ADN regular and HuffPo “Superuser” badge recipient, to back up his argument. While he may want to believe Governor Palin was a “socialist” that simply is not the case. Governor Palin honored the State Constitution that she took an oath to protect and defend. Spinning her adherence to the law and looking out for the best interests of Alaskans in accordance with said law, into leftist propaganda is completely disingenuous. If Governor Palin was a “socialist,” believe me, she would not be so reviled by the left.
Zencey then digs up the old travel expense attack line. He starts with:
She charged the state for “travel” expenses — a per diem allowance for meals — while living at her home in Wasilla and commuting to the governor’s office in Anchorage.
Governor Palin and her family were staying in their home in Wasilla during part of her term because the Governor’s Mansion was undergoing massive plumbing renovations at that time. She could have opted to stay at a hotel with her family, but instead she saved the taxpayers money by staying in her own home.
Back in 2008, ADN reported:
As with previous governors, the state pays for the first family’s meals when the Palins are in Juneau.
In Palin’s case, the state is also paying for at least some meals when she’s staying in Wasilla.
So, if the plumbing overhaul hadn’t occurred, the Palin’s would have lived in the mansion and had all of their meals paid for. However, they were in Wasilla and the state only paid for “some” of their meals. This would never be an issue for any other governor, nor should it be.
Next, Zencey writes:
Palin repeatedly billed the state for bringing her children along on state trips. Facing an ethics complaint on the matter, Palin agreed to repay the state for ten trips her children took.
Zencey very conveniently fails to mention that Governor Palin was cleared of any wrongdoing in that case. The governor’s attorney, Thomas Van Flein addressed this in February of 2009 on the Eddie Burke show after the repayment agreement was made. He said:
There’s been no violation of the law, as you noted, on the per diem issue and there’s no violation of the Ethics Act on this travel issue. That’s the news that was released today, that there’s a settlement agreement between the Governor’s office, the Governor rather, and the Personnel Board, and it expressly cleared the Governor of any ethics violation. This is regarding what is called Protocol Travel, and that’s travel involving the First Family essentially.
She was cleared of any wrongdoing, but she agreed to reimburse the state for some of the trips, holding herself to the standard of a new law that hadn’t even been written yet. She went above and beyond in order to remain above reproach. Governor Palin was being punished for having a young family, while attending functions pertaining to her job. It wasn’t right that she had to pay the state back (no other public official would have had to) but instead of dragging it out in a dispute, she cleared her name by paying the costs. You can read the agreement for yourself here.
Zencey’s next line of attack involves the car Governor Palin drove while she was in office:
Palin also had use of a state car for her commute to the office from Wasilla. When the media started asking if she’d paid federal income taxes on this benefit from her employer, she abruptly turned the car in and never answered the question.
The governor’s security detail requested that she not give up the state owned Suburban for her Jetta. She did so after the media started hounding her about any potential “personal use” of the vehicle. You can only image why the governor decided to just hand it back to them. She already had dozens of left-wing operatives taking notes on her every move. She probably didn’t want to risk another frivolous “ethics” charge and the subsequent feigned outrage by the press for taking Piper to the dentist.
Speaking of frivolous “ethics” charges, Zencey thinks the agreement made involving the legal defense fund indicates that Governor Palin did something wrong. First, the Alaska Fund Trust was set up by Governor Palin’s friends, not her. The only thing they did wrong was use the word “official” while trying to help pay for all the legal costs involved with a merciless, politically motivated, litigious campaign from Democrat operatives against the governor. The monies collected by this fund were never even used.
Next, Zencey takes aim at Governor Palin’s email accounts:
Palin ran for governor on the promise to run an open and transparent administration. But she had a private email network set up so she and her aides could conduct state business without having it show up in official state records.
Who doesn’t have private email accounts? Zencey’s insinuation about what was said and to who it was said, is nothing but speculation on his part.
Zencey rounds out his laundry list of rehashed leftist attacks by delving into Tasergate:
She astonished Alaskans by claiming the Legislature’s investigation into the Troopergate scandal “vindicated” her — when in fact it found probable cause she had violated state law.
Yes, Mr. Zencey. Governor Palin was cleared, thereby vindicating her in that partisan witch-hunt. From the AP:
A report has cleared Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin of ethics violations in the firing of her public safety commissioner.
Released Monday, the report says there is no probable cause to believe Palin or any other state official violated the Alaska Executive Ethics Act in connection with the firing. The report was prepared by Timothy Petumenos, an independent counsel for the Alaska Personnel Board.
The only people in Alaska who were “astonished” were the Democrat operatives who failed at taking Governor Palin down with their “October surprise.” The personnel board that exonerated her was independent compared to the partisan legislative panel that”found” the “probable cause” Zencey refers to. Let us not forget that the partisan panel was led by Kim Elton who currently works for the Obama administration.
Mr. Zencey titled his article “It’s a Mystery Why the Tea Party Loves Sarah Palin.” You can see the amount of effort he took gathering old political attacks and trying to frame them in a manner to discredit the governor with her political base. Armed with spun facts, lousy sources, and a clear agenda, he laid out what he thought might be a compelling argument to chip away some of her support. Not understanding the the commonsense conservatives that make up the bulk of the Tea Party however, he foolishly published his article at the Huffington Post. This alone discredits his argument to the very people he had wished to convey it to.