It may not matter to you that Sarah Palin has not been loyal to the state of Alaska or the Alaska Republican Party, but it should. Palin has not been active in the party since 2008, but that is no crime. Donald Trump was not active in the party before his election either, but I still voted for him, twice. Just as I voted for Sarah, but that was before I knew of her first “political felony.”
What is a political felony? It is an act that is so contrary to the well-being of your state, and to the expectations of your party, that it should doom your future in politics unless you apologize in public. Sarah Palin’s first felony was allowing herself to be led by Democrats in the Alaska Legislature to pass ACES, an oil tax regime so draconian that not one more nickel was spent on oil exploration in Alaska after she signed the bill.
This political felony occurred in 2007, early in Palin’s first year. The Democrats and Palin forgot that Alaska has to compete with other petroleum-bearing regions for oil company investment in exploration and new production. If you tax too much, the oil companies will go somewhere else to look for new oil. The TAPS line was well below capacity then. We needed new oil then and we still do.
The Dems have always had a contempt for the oil business and a willingness to bite the hand that feeds them. Republicans do not worship the oil biz but they do try to understand and respect it. Why would Palin allow herself to ally with the Dems in this scheme? The key point is that she did the deed and got very lucky, in the years after, that the public did not realize how foul a deed it was. I didn’t know either when I voted for Palin and McCain in November 2008.
Palin was criticized in mid-2009 for resigning the governorship but not by me. There were a lot of good reasons for her to abdicate, and the best one was that Sean Parnell became governor. He began working on a fix for ACES, but it took several years, including getting reelected in his own right in 2010 to finally fix the tax regime in 2013.
Exploration resumed and there is new oil in the pipeline today. Parnell was cool about this. He didn’t blame Palin or make an issue of her gullibility at the hands of Democrats. He just got it fixed and was on a good path for re-election in 2014 when Sarah Palin committed her second political felony.
You can recover from widely known political mistakes if you acknowledge the deed and atone for it convincingly. Bill Clinton and Donald Trump did. But, in 2014, Palin’s first crime was not publicly understood because Parnell had cleaned things up. Rather than heave a sigh of relief, Palin went on to openly support Bill Walker and his strange brew campaign to unseat Parnell. As dark a day in Alaska politics as I can remember.
Why support Walker? Well, as near as I can tell, he and Palin are part of a splinter group of people who claim to be conservative but have the same contempt for oil as Democrats. I also suspect she resented Parnell for terminating her once-much-bragged-about ACES plan.
I have watched campaigns in Alaska with great attention. Sarah Palin had, and still has, a lot of star power. She communicates well, holds the attention of the room and is entertaining to many. So does Donald Trump, but he also governed well and has been respectful of the party that put him in office. I don’t think Sarah Palin’s political felonies are known to Trump. He is clearly smitten with Palin’s star power and gives it more value that he should. She is in this for herself. Don’t vote for her, ever. Nick Begich has earned my vote.
• Murray R. Walsh is a semi-retired land use consultant. He has lived in Juneau since 1976 and has been involved in the Republican Party since arriving in Juneau. Columns,