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'Palin mania' continues, with fans and foes gearing up
Anchorage Daily News


November 30, 2008

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A California-based conservative group that hammered Barack Obama during the presidential election launched a string of commercials this week praising Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska.

Designed to counter what the group calls attacks on Palin -- a potential presidential candidate in 2012 -- by "media elites," the ads began airing in Alaska on Tuesday.

But Palin's critics have been just as busy.

A group spearheaded by local left-leaning bloggers says the governor still has to answer for the findings of an abuse-of-power investigation finished during the campaign, and are pressing lawmakers to take action next session.

The group, Alaskans for Truth, says the state legislature ought to censure Palin for breaking ethics rules and hold hearings on whether the governor and her husband told investigators the truth.

At the same time, Palin supporters are airing commercials paid for by a political action committee called the Our Country Deserves Better Committee, which originally formed in July to defeat Obama's presidential bid.

On its web site, the political action committee writes about stopping illegal immigration and liberal judges, and says the country needs a president who embraces a "culture of life."

The plan was to disband after the election, said chief strategist Sal Russo, but supporters voted in an online poll to keep going.

The committee is spending $50,000 on the ads in Alaska and plans to air spots on national cable and network TV too, Russo said.

"We thought a good thing to start with was your governor was being maligned by too many media elites and political pundits," Russo said. "We're saying we want her to continue to be a leader of the Republican Party, that we need her," he said.

The ads hit local television on Tuesday and will appear across Alaska during prime time Wednesday and Thursday -- in time for Thanksgiving. Palin, whose stance on social issues such as abortion lean hard to the right, has left the door open to a potential presidential bid in four years.

The Our Country Deserves Better Committee made headlines during the campaign for airing footage of Obama's controversial former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and holding a multi-state "Stop Obama" bus tour.

The group's chairman is Howard Kaloogian, a Republican who served in the California State Assembly from 1994 to 2000. Together with Russo, he worked on the successful 2003 effort to recall Democratic California Gov. Gray Davis.

Palin spokesman Bill McAllister said Palin wasn't aware of the ads until reporters called about the commercials last week.

Alaskans for Truth was launched as an informal group this fall, organizing an Anchorage anti-Palin rally in October that drew more than 1,000 people and calling for Attorney General Talis Colberg to lose his job.

Group leaders said they want the Alaska state legislature to follow up on an investigation into Palin's firing of her public safety commissioner that found the governor abused her power in allowing her husband and top aides to push for the firing of her former brother-in-law, a state trooper.

That finding came from an investigator hired by the Alaska Legislative Council. After her selection as Sen. John McCain's running mate, Palin refused to cooperate, with her local campaign officials saying the probe had become a witch hunt by Obama supporters.

She did, however, give a statement in a subsequent investigation by the Alaska Personnel Board, which eventually cleared her of wrongdoing.

Alaskans for Truth leaders maintain lawmakers should stick with the original report and are pressing legislators to:

- Censure Palin for breaking state ethics rules.

- Seek contempt-of-court charges against Palin's husband and others for refusing to honor legislative subpoenas.

- Hold hearings on whether the Palins committed perjury in their statements to the Personnel Board.

The message, on the Alaskans for Truth web site, complete with e-mail addresses for each lawmaker, echoed across Alaska political blogs.

Legislators need the push, said Camille Conte, radio host for Anchorage's KUDO 1080 AM and chairwoman of the group.

"My sense is that there is not the political will to do the right thing because it's not comfortable," she said. "It's sticky. It's about holding the highest office in our state accountable."



E-mail Kyle Hopkins at khopkins(at)
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