Palin Slams GOP Successor in Alaska
Hey, Alaska! Sarah Palin is back.
She left our state’s politics in the dust after quitting office in 2009, but yesterday she returned to her favorite local media platform—The Bob & Mark Radio Show—to slam her successor and one-time Lt. Governor, Republican Sean Parnell.
The bone she had to pick with him relates to her signature legislation as governor, Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share (ACES). The oil tax system that ushered Alaska’s bank account into golden days of plenty, with a savings of more than $17 billion, ACES funded subsequent investments in roads, schools, and critical infrastructure projects. Under ACES, oil production was up, jobs were up, and the coffers were full after a long dark decade when oil companies paid little or no production tax on North America’s largest oil fields.
In an economy utterly reliant on oil, there is a reason that Palin’s approval ratings as Alaska governor once hovered near 90% and ACES had a lot to do with it. Considering the highly partisan nature of her current Tea Party politics, Palin was surprisingly bipartisan and partnered with Democrats and some legislative Republicans to make it happen. She was an Alaska first populist, and people responded.
“(ACES) was non-partisan,” Palin said. “That was the beauty of it too. People who understood ACES and supported it—it didn’t matter what party affiliation you were. It was just common sense and math … to show that both oil companies and service companies and the State of Alaska benefit.”
Her Lieutenant Governor and gubernatorial successor Sean Parnell quietly supported ACES during the second half of what would have been Palin’s term. But once he won the governor’s seat in his own right, and likely faced 8 more years in the office, he began to systematically dismantle Palin’s signature legislation. Backed by a Republican majority in the legislature, he proposed his own oil tax “reform,”promising $2 billion a year to his former industry CEOs in exchange for… nothing. No requirement for more jobs, exploration, nor production. I mean, why get the supposed benefits in writing, right?
Parnell’s bill, SB21 passed and was signed into law. “Here you go. Here’s $2 billion a year. Have a nice day.” Even using the administrations own numbers, Parnell’s system would bankrupt the state in a decade.
Outraged, more than 50,000 Alaskans signed a petition to put the question of repeal on the August 19 primary ballot. SB21 now faces a vote by the people.
Until now, Palin has stood silent as the man whose name once shared her campaign yard signs has destroyed her legacy. Now, her silence on this matter has ended in dramatic fashion and the old populist “stick it to the oil companies” Palin is back.
Asked why Parnell had a change of heart, Palin said
“Bless his heart. Remember that Sean Parnell came from the oil industry. He was an employee of ConocoPhillips lobbying for the cause there.”
And she’s right. Parnell was the Director of Government Relations for ConocoPhillips before joining Gov. Frank Murkowski’s Administration as the Deputy Director of the state’s Division of Oil and Gas. Palin trounced the incumbent Republican Murkowski in a 3-way primary, largely due to his hinky dealings with the oil companies, and her promises of reform. Parnell left that job to become a partner in the global law and lobbying firm Patton and Boggs, which represents the Alaska interests of … wait for it… Exxon Mobil Corp. You know, the spill people who litigated until a quarter of spill victims were dead and the rest had to settle for pennies on the dollar.
Giving a nod to Alaska as an “owner state”—the actual owner of its natural resources which are to be developed, according to the state constitution, for the “maximum benefit of the people,” Palin summed it up.
“I’m happy to weigh in on this subject…and let people know how wrongheaded this will be if we start caving in to those who we respect, who we partner with, that’s the oil companies. But—they’re doing just fine and our Constitution lays out that perfect blueprint for Alaska to be solvent and sovereign and with the use of resources that benefits the owners—the residents.”
If we pluck the message from the word salad, it is this:
Sean Parnell is an oil shill. Alaskans are stupid if they listen to him. Don’t cave in to the oil companies. They are greedy, and have enough already. Our Constitution is being violated.
I often have to argue the point, especially with friends in the Lower 48, that Sean Parnell is a much worse governor than Sarah Palin ever was. But I hope this proves the point. He’s SO bad, even the crazy lady hates him.
What most don’t realize is that Palin has a long history of animosity toward Parnell. She never wanted him as her running mate, preferring instead the Republican candidate Jerry Ward. But Alaska holds a separate election for Lt. Governor, and so much to her dismay, Parnell it was. She was so furious that Parnell came to the joint campaign with tens of thousands of dollars in his own campaign debt, that she threatened to not put his name on her campaign signs until he made good on his own, refusing to use her money to pay off his debts.
Even then his bad money management skills clearly made an impact.
And despite all the partisan, extreme, hateful, incendiary remarks—despite the self-aggrandizing, narcissistic, exploitative grandstanding—despite all that, Sarah Palin talking about Alaska for the first time since she quit actually got it right.