This post is primarily about Gov. Palin's "First Dude" going back to his job with a major oil company in Prudhoe Bay and her opponents' kvetching about how that might create a conflict of interest. However, before i get into that, I want to adress another smear campaign that is slightly more personal to me:
I consider Trish over at Palintology to be one of my better friends in the blogosphere. She is a stand-up individual, and she runs a great website. She recently had a run-in with the Anchorage Daily News' Sheila Toomey, who wrote a article which essentially asserted that Trish was being paid by someone to run her Palin fan site. Here's the problem: Trish had been contacted by Toomey via email before the article was written, and had made it known that she had not recieved one red cent in for her efforts. Please take the time to read about this situation further at Palintology.com, then (if you subscribe to adn.com) please take a few minutes to tell Ms. Toomey to learn some ethics by commenting on her article.
Okay, now we can talk about Governor Palin.
The big news out of Alaska this week is that "First Dude" Todd Palin is returning to his job as a North Slope oil worker for BP after taking a leave of absence. (Please check out this video news report for details). As BP is a major oil and gas producer, some are arguing that Todd Palin's job could create a conflict of interest for Sarah Palin's administration. I personally think that such arguments are ill-informed.
First off, it is worth noting that Mr. Palin is a "production operator" not a manager or an executive. As a blue-collar worker on an hourly wage, there is little chance that his job will be affected by any of the interactions that his wife could have with the BP company.
In fact, Gov. Palin specifically requested a report from Alaska's attorney general regarding whether her husband's return to work would cause any conflicts of interest under the state's ethics laws. You can click here to view that report, and I think you will find that it repeatedly states that no conflicts of interest would exist unless the Governor had
to deal with an issue that directly impacted her husband's performance of his job.
My question is why this story has only now materialized. No one complained about potential conflicts when Sarah Palin chaired Alaska's oil and gas commission, but now it's suddenly a BIG deal. Personally, I think it has to do with the fact that Palin has become far more popular an prominent than anyone could have ever expected. She's pushing through her agenda like gangbusters, polls show that she could beat Sen. Ted Stevens if she challenged him, and a bunch of crazy bloggers are enjoying a good deal of success in their efforts to make her Vice President. If you are a Palin opponent or a partisan Democrat, your worst nightmares are coming true, and you are probably feeling the need to try to take care of your "problem" before it becomes even more dangerous. Hence, Palin's detractors have now decided to conjure up a way of associating Palin with the sort of corrupt politics that she fights so hard against.
Of course, the problem with such a smear campaign is that it is not based on fact, but rather on an emotional desire to see the Gov. Palin fail. For instance, consider that the main Palin detractor in the video that I linked is Ethan Berkowitz. Mr. Berkowitz was the Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor in 2006, when he and his running mate (Tony Knowles) were squashed by the GOP ticket of Sarah Palin and Sean Parnell, now THAT'S a conflict of interest. . While I respect the fact that he helped author an ethics white paper for the Governor, I think that asking Ethan Berkowitz for an objective view of the Palin administration is like asking a salmon for an unbiased assessment of the grizzly bear that's about to eat it.
A word of caution to the purveyors of this nonsense: Taking shots at Sarah Palin is somewhat akin to playing Russian Roulette. Remember what happened to the Voice of the Times and the State Ag Board? Please don't make fools of yourselves, you may regret it.