Thursday, October 09, 2008

Sarah Palin's dalliances with Wasilla's own extremists

Max Blumenthal and I recently spent several days on separate visits to Wasilla, Alaska, Sarah Palin's hometown where she was mayor from 1996 to 2002. We talked to a number of local residents and pored over a number of city documents, looking into Palin's associations with a far-right political faction in Wasilla. (We working thanks to a grant from The Nation Institute's Investigative Fund.)

The report is now complete and can be read in its entirety at You can also see above the video Max made of his interview with one of the faction's main leaders, a man named Mark Chryson, who headed up the secessionist Alaskan Independence Party during the same time period. It pretty much speaks for itself.

Essentially here’s what we found:

  • That Gov. Palin, when a Wasilla city council member, formed an alliance with some of the more radical far-right citizens in Wasilla and vicinity, particularly members of the secessionist Alaskan Independence Party who were allied with local John Birch Society activists. These activists played an important role in her election as Wasilla mayor in 1996.

  • Once mayor, one of Mrs. Palin’s first acts was to attempt to appoint one of these extremists (a man named Steve Stoll) to her own seat on the city council. This was a man with a history of disrupting city council meetings with intimidating behavior. She was blocked by a single city council member.

  • Afterward, Mrs. Palin fired the city’s museum director at the behest of this faction.

  • She fomented an ultimately successful effort to derail a piece of local gun-control legislation which would simply have prohibited the open carry of firearms into schools, liquor stores, libraries, courthouses and the like. The people recruited to shout this ordinance down included these same figures, notably the local AIP representative (who became the AIP’s chairman that same year).

  • She remained associated politically with the local AIP/Birch faction throughout her tenure as mayor on other issues, particularly a successful effort to amend the Alaska Constitution to prohibit local governments from issuing any local gun-control ordinances.

In general, we found that not only did Mrs. Palin have numerous associations with these extremists, she actively sought to empower them locally and to enact their agendas both locally and on a state level.

We sent an e-mail to the McCain/Palin campaign asking for their reaction to these findings, and have so far received no response. If and when we do, we'll update.

We haven't any insight into Palin's accusations that Barack Obama "palled around with terrorists" by associating with William Ayers. But we do know there are serious questions about her own dalliances with the far right during the same time period. We didn't find any evidence that Palin herself subscribed to their "New World Order" conspiracy theories, but it's clear she was comfortable with not only aligning herself with them politically, but putting them in positions of actual political power and influence.

I'll be back tomorrow with some City of Wasilla documents you can peruse on your own substantiating our findings.

UPDATE: Max Blumenthal appeared on Rachel Maddow to discuss this article. Video shortly.

[Cross-posted at Crooks & Liars -- where, as you may note, I'll be the managing editor as of Monday. More on that in a bit.]

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