When The New York Times and The Washington Post independently investigate an issue and each arrives at the same conclusion that Sarah Palins terms as a councilmember, mayor and governor were characterized by abuses of power, cronyism and secrecy its time to take notice.
On abuses of power:
Throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, according to a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials.
In Wasilla, a builder said he complained to Mayor Palin when the city attorney put a stop-work order on his housing project. She responded, he said, by engineering the attorneys firing.
[I]n 1995, Ms. Palin, then a city councilwoman, told colleagues that she had noticed the book Daddys Roommate on the shelves and that it did not belong there, according to Ms. Chase and Mr. Stein. Ms. Chase read the book, which helps children understand homosexuality, and said it was inoffensive; she suggested that Ms. Palin read it.
Sarah said she didnt need to read that stuff, Ms. Chase said. It was disturbing that someone would be willing to remove a book from the library and she didnt even read it.
Palin took office as mayor in October 1996 with a show of force. She fired the museum director and demanded that the other department heads submit resignation letters, saying she would decide whether to accept them based on their loyalty, according to news reports at the time.
Palin also differed with the librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons. The Frontiersman reported at the time that Palin asked Emmons three times in her first weeks in office whether she would agree to remove controversial books. The librarian said she would not. The McCain campaign has confirmed Palin's questions but said that she never demanded removal of any specific books. Palin also fired Emmons on Jan. 30 but reinstated her after an uproar.
A recall effort in early 1997 fizzled out, but hard feelings lingered. "Working in small towns, I had never seen someone come in and clean house like that in such a precipitous manner. It was pretty scary and emotional," said Dvorak, the city planner, who left after eight months.
Deuser, the former city attorney, said it was upsetting to hear the McCain campaign refer to Palin's takeover as a matter of getting rid of the "good ol' boy network."
"They were just good public servants who did a really admirable job and deserved better," said Deuser, who was replaced in 1997.
Ms. Palin chose Talis Colberg, a borough assemblyman from the Matanuska valley, as her attorney general, provoking a bewildered question from the legal community: Who? Mr. Colberg, who did not return calls, moved from a one-room building in the valley to one of the most powerful offices in the state, supervising some 500 people.
I called him and asked, Do you know how to supervise people? said a family friend, Kathy Wells. He said, No, but I think Ill get some help.
The Wasilla High School yearbook archive now doubles as a veritable directory of state government. Ms. Palin appointed Mr. Bitney, her former junior high school band-mate, as her legislative director and chose another classmate, Joe Austerman, to manage the economic development office for $82,908 a year. Mr. Austerman had established an Alaska franchise for Mailboxes Etc.
Palin's replacements included a public works director who lacked engineering experience but was married to a top aide to a former Republican governor, and she made a former state GOP lawyer city attorney, according to the Daily News. Langill, the former councilwoman, said the new hires fit Palin's management style.
"Sarah always did and still does surround herself with people she gets along well with," she said. "They protect her, and that's what she needs. She has surrounded herself with people who would not allow others to disagree with Sarah. Either you were in favor of everything Sarah was doing or had a black mark by your name."
While Ms. Palin took office promising a more open government, her administration has battled to keep information secret. Her inner circle discussed the benefit of using private e-mail addresses. An assistant told her it appeared that such e-mail messages sent to a private address on a personal device like a BlackBerry would be confidential and not subject to subpoena.
On Feb. 7, Frank Bailey, a high-level aide, wrote to Ms. Palins state e-mail address to discuss appointments. Another aide fired back: Frank, this is not the governors personal account.
Mr. Bailey responded: Whoops~!
Mr. Bailey, a former midlevel manager at Alaska Airlines who worked on Ms. Palins campaign, has been placed on paid leave; he has emerged as a central figure in the trooper investigation.