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Thread: Sarah Palin probe has parallels to 2000 recount fight in Florida

  1. #1
    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    Default Sarah Palin probe has parallels to 2000 recount fight in Florida

    Palin probe has parallels to 2000 recount fight
    Associated Press
    This time, there are no hanging chads.
    Yet the Republicans' drive to derail an abuse of power investigation against Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP vice presidential candidate, reflects the same determination and many of the same methods employed in shutting down the 2000 presidential recount in Florida.
    Now, as then, the playbook includes lawsuits, the exercise of power by sympathetic state officials, and appeals to the court of public opinion — all in an operation directed by out-of-state Republicans.
    "Hold me accountable," Palin said when the Republican-controlled legislature launched the investigation in mid-August.
    Now John McCain's running mate, she declines to cooperate. She calls the investigation tainted, her husband won't honor a subpoena to testify, and Republican lawmakers are in court with a pair of lawsuits challenging the legitimacy of the probe.
    Republican lawyers, researchers and public relations specialists have been dispatched to Alaska. The Anchorage lawyer originally hired by the state to represent Palin is no longer paid by taxpayers and instead is part of the McCain-Palin campaign's legal team.
    Former prosecutor Ed O'Callaghan, from New York, is the team's leading voice. "The investigation is no longer a legitimate investigation because it has been subjected to complete partisanship and does not operate with the authority that it had at the time of its initial authorization," he told reporters earlier in the week.
    Even though lawmakers announced plans for new subpoenas on Friday, there appears little chance that investigator Stephen Branchflower will receive testimony from all the witnesses he seeks before his Oct. 10 target date for completion.
    That's nearly four weeks before Election Day, the date by which Troopergate, as it is known, can no longer affect McCain's chances of winning the White House.
    And Democrats are not without their own maneuvers — casting Palin in an unfavorable light with allegations that Republican presidential candidate John McCain and his party are playing politics with the issue.
    "The Republican presidential campaign is doing everything it can to stall and smear," says Patti Higgins, chairwoman of the Alaska Democratic Party.
    So far, the struggle has been largely one-sided. Advantage: Republicans and Palin, the governor whose firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan triggered the controversy this summer.
    Critics say Monegan was fired because he refused to dismiss a state trooper who had gone through a difficult divorce with the governor's sister. Palin says she acted in response to a disagreement with Monegan over state spending.
    Whatever her motivation, Republicans have acted as though they could not afford to allow Branchflower to complete his probe before the election.
    One Republican veteran of the Florida recount, attorney Ben Ginsberg, said comparing that case to the one in Alaska was like mixing apples and oranges.
    "If you won the election once, why would you ever have a recount?" he said. And in the case of an investigation, "there's always one side that tries to shut it down and another side that wants to keep it going."
    The similarities to the contested Florida recount of 2000 are striking, if imprecise — the uncertain outcome of a complete manual recount then, the unpredictability of a full accounting of the Monegan firing now.

    Then, Bush clung to a slender lead in Florida over Al Gore after a statewide machine recount. Democrats sought a follow-up manual re-tally by hand in four counties, and Republicans determined to block them.
    Given a margin of a few hundred votes out of millions cast, it was impossible to tell who had truly won the state. There were numerous disputed paper ballots — including those with partially-punched out holes that became instantly known by the phrase "hanging chads.
    Republicans also were fearful of forfeiting their advantage in the public relations battle. Their man was ahead, and any reduction in his lead could only undermine his claim on the White House.
    Lawsuits tumbled on top of one another, eventually involving Florida's highest court and U.S. Supreme Court.
    Katherine Harris, the Republican secretary of state, was stopped by court order from certifying the results once — a ruling issued by seven judges appointed by Democrats, Republicans noted.
    One county canvassing board, besieged by Republican protesters, shut down the recount Democrats sought. Harris refused to accept results from another county, submitted 90 minutes past the court-imposed deadline of 5 p.m. on Nov. 26.
    That day, she certified Bush the winner of Florida by 537 votes — and the tally stood despite days of additional lawyering and hand-counting.
    The stakes are not nearly as large this time, and Democrats have appeared slow off the mark, unwilling or unable to dispatch their own crew to Alaska to counter the Republicans.
    And while there is no direct equivalent of Harris, Alaska's Republican attorney general, Talis Colberg, has played a pivotal, if quiet, role in trying to bottle up the investigation of the woman who appointed him.
    When Branchflower sought to subpoena 10 employees of Palin's administration, Colberg reponded with a letter that said they had been placed in a untenable position.
    "As state employees, our clients have taken an oath to uphold the Alaska Constitution," he wrote.
    Yet, he added, "our clients are also loyal employees subject to the supervision of the Governor" whom he said has stated that the subpoenas were of questionable validity. "We respectfully ask that you withdraw the subpoenas directed to our clients and thereby relieve them from the circumstance of having to choose where their loyalties lie," he added.
    Palin probe has parallels to 2000 recount fight

  2. #2
    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    The Republicans' handling of Troopergate is doing a good job of burning Sarah Palin's bridges up in Alaska. More and more it is showing up in Alaskan blogs. People up there are getting pissed.
    New McCain Stall of Troopergate Investigation: Part Karl Rove, Part Laurel & Hardy.

    Here’s another great piece by one of our newest and most favorite Mudflatters, Alaska Representative Les Gara. He’s not only a great legislator, with a real insider’s perspective on the surreal world of the Alaska Legislature, but he’s a pretty entertaining read. Enjoy!
    Since Monday the McCain camp has stepped up its personal attacks against Alaskans. They’ve continued their D.C.-style tactics against neighbors in this small state. The game plan is to find an excuse to stop our Legislature’s Troopergate investigation, and hide evidence McCain’s folks really don’t want to surface before November’s election. It’s been a little Karl Rove, and parts Laurel and Hardy. How else can you explain the following?

    Last week the Attorney general’s office promised state witnesses would comply with subpoenas the Legislature issued last week. Tuesday the Governor’s Attorney General flip flopped, and announced that state witnesses wouldn’t comply because, well, and I’m paraphrasing here - he’s changed his mind. And in what has to be an idea hatched after a 4th Martini at Chilkoot Charlie’s, Governor Palin’s attorneys have filed a motion to dismiss the ethics claim she filed against herself two weeks ago. Yup. She really filed a complaint against herself. Tuesday she said she’s discovered, after a thorough investigation of herself, that she’s done nothing wrong. Does anyone know how to get a hold of Jon Stewart and Tina Fey?

    It’s silly season up here in the far north, but this week’s moves are aimed at one thing: John McCain’s effort to find cover for being disingenuous. See, before Governor Palin’s nomination for the Republican VP spot, she did the honest thing. She admitted the evidence - of roughly 20 contacts between her staff and husband with Public Safety officials, seeking the firing of Governor Palin’s former brother-in-law - might lead a reasonable person to the conclusion that the she misused her office to fire a state employee. So when Alaska’s Republican-led Legislature called for an investigation, she did the honorable thing and said she and her staff would comply. She denies any wrongdoing.

    Things changed on August 29 when Governor Palin was added to the McCain ticket. Since then his handlers have told her she can’t testify. They don’t want the evidence in this case to come out. They don’t want her to testify under oath. They don’t want other witnesses to testify under oath. So they have engaged in daily maneuvers to attack, as disloyal to the McCain campaign, anyone who wants the investigation to move forward. They’ve now attacked two well respected prosecutors, and perhaps the state’s most highly regarded law enforcement official - the Public Safety Commissioner she hired, and then fired, Walt Monegan.
    Every day this week McCain operatives have sung the same tune. Today a guy with an East Coast accent, who knows nothing about Alaska, stood in front of a McCain-Palin banner to lead the attacks against people he doesn’t know. At press conferences on Monday and Tuesday campaign staffer Megan Stapleton spit vitriol to repeat her argument that this investigation is really a “Democratic” attack on Governor Palin.

    See, that’s easier than just saying their VP has reneged on her promise to testify. It’s easier than just saying they don’t want anyone testifying before the November election. It’s easier than admitting they are stonewalling a legislative investigation.

    Here are a few things they failed to say. There are a few small facts that make it hard to style this as a Democratic investigation. One is that Alaska is a RepublicanState. We have a Republican Governor and a Legislature of 34 Republicans and 26 Democrats. This summer the Legislature’s Legislative Council voted 12-0 (8 Republicans and 4 Democrats) to hire an investigator, and appointed Democratic Senator Hollis French, a well-respected former prosecutor, to find an investigator. Governor Palin stated she and her employees would comply with the investigation. French then hired Steve Branchflower, a former DA who most recently was hired by legislative Republicans to run the state’s Office of Victims rights.

    And on Friday the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-2 (2 Democrats and 1 Republican in favor); and the House Judiciary Committee issued a 7 - 0 (5 Republicans, 2 Democrats) advisory vote, to issue subpoenas to witnesses the McCain camp had previously stopped from testifying.

    Over the last two days McCain’s outside operatives have vilified former prosecutor Hollis French - as an Obama supporter who must have called this investigation to hurt the McCain ticket. But French was appointed to oversee the investigation by a 12 - 0 Legislative Council vote, and is probably the state’s most respected legislator - by Republicans and Democrats alike. He’s so popular the Republican Party couldn’t find anyone to run against him this year.

    They’ve called former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan - a Native Alaskan who has served Republican and Democratic Administrations with honor, and put his life on the line in uniform - “insubordinate.” Odd, given that when Governor Palin fired him she offered him a different job. I guess being “insubordinate” was a job requirement for the new position. And they’ve challenged the independence of an investigator and former DA, who has no animus anyone can find.

    Those Swift boat ads taught the McCain folks that if you say something untrue enough times, it can stick.

    My favorite moment of the week came when Governor Palin’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss Palin’s ethics complaint against herself. Stay with me. Her attorneys have been buying the peyote, not me. See, on August 29 they needed to find a way to stop the Legislature’s investigation. They tried asking the Republican leaders to call it off, and take one for the team. But the Senate President and others honorably said no. So they came up with an argument that the State Personnel Board - 3 people appointed by Governor Palin and her Republican predecessor Frank Murkowski - had “exclusive jurisdiction” to investigate wrongdoing by the Governor. The Legislature wasn’t amused. So Governor Palin then filed a complaint against herself.

    That, they said, put “jurisdiction” in the hands of their friends at the Personnel Board. They argued that since the Personnel Board was now proceeding with an “investigation”, the Legislature couldn’t.

    To put icing on the cake, on Monday the Governor’s attorneys moved to dismiss the Governor’s case against herself. They said, and I loosely paraphrase again - that they tried really hard and just couldn’t find any evidence that the Governor did anything wrong. OK. I can’t believe I just wrote that. And I wish it weren’t true.

    These are the things you have to do when your Presidential candidate doesn’t want his VP to honor a promise, and doesn’t want evidence to come out before an election. These are the things you have to do if your folks aren’t going to comply with a subpoena. That’s because without spin the headline might read: “McCain Interferes With Investigation Palin Agreed To.” How easy it is to re-write a headline. They learned that during the Swift boat campaign too.

    All we can hope for is that members of the press will remember what they learned in journalism school. Not to repeat the spin of political operatives without reporting the truth. Not to write “he said she said” stories, and pretend the truth is somewhere in the middle. But to report the facts. No matter how you spin it, Governor Palin promised to comply with this Legislative Investigation. McCain’s folks got her to change her position. And the Legislature that voted for the investigation did so on a bi-partisan basis. End of story. End of headline.

    Over the next few days McCain’s folks will try to get local legislators to step in line, out of party loyalty, and reverse their vote to investigate Troopergate. But many local Republicans, like Senate President Lyda Green, have so far refused to play those politics.

    Stay for more from McCain’s Campaign for “Change.” They’ve tried to change the truth. They’ve succeeded at changing Governor Palin’s promise to comply with this investigation. Let’s see what they’ll change next.
    Thanks for really being out there on the Mudflats, Les. Hey, if this ‘being a great politician’ thing doesn’t work out, you’re always welcome here.

  3. #3
    Elite Member ana-mish-ana's Avatar
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    She is going to have problems when she has to go back to Alaska- if the repubs dont win the General Election.

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