Barrett (pictured above left) wrote a Village Voice article about the Palins, their new Wasilla house, and the building of the Wasilla Sports Complex, last fall.
Here is the article.
Here is an article about van Flein's threat.
Barrett has issued a response to van Flein's threat:
Monday, Jul. 6 2009 @ 4:43PM
Sarah Palin attorney Thomas Van Flein spent his July 4 in Fairbanks, Alaska, issuing a four-page statement warning news organizations not to investigate allegations printed by the Voice last October.
Talk about waving a red flag in front of a bull.
===snip, in which Barrett suggests the lawyer's letter just made everyone curiouser, notes that Van Flein did not challenge a single fact in Barrett's story, points out that building permits aren't required in Wasilla making it impossible to determine who did work on the house, and that it was an odd time for the Palins to build, just two months before her term as mayor would end - or was it? ==
Greta Van Susteren asked Todd during the campaign last year if he had built the house and he replied: "Myself and some buddies that were contractors helped me put it together." Yet Palin's campaign manager in the 2002 race told her authorized biographer Kaylene Johnson: "Todd would make a lap around the state in 24 hours just to put up signs." Sarah explained her narrow loss to Johnson by saying "I was working full time as mayor, I'd just had Piper, we were building a house, and Todd was working on the slope." All of that makes it a curious time to build, and a hell of a workload for Todd, unless the family wanted to build it while Sarah Palin was still mayor, and still pushing the controversial complex (voters approved funding it that May by a narrow 20-vote margin despite Palin's support).
Van Flein also tries to soft-pedal Palin's role in the hockey complex, though just about every biographical piece on her six-year tenure as mayor -- including the pro-Palin Wall Street Journal -- concluded that it was "the biggest project Palin undertook as mayor." Van Flein even goes so far as to cite a story in the Wasilla paper that criticized her at the time for not pushing it hard enough, as if it were not her baby.
The lawyer acknowledges that she appointed the seven-member steering committee that oversaw the project and picked the contractors. Van Flein insists she wasn't the chair of the committee, a charge we never made. He does say that Curtis Menard did chair it -- a dentist whose son was the godfather of Palin's son and whose family has been called "a second family" to Sarah Palin. He doesn't acknowledge that three other members of the committee were her employees -- her public works director, her city engineer and the man she appointed as the project manager for the complex. Nor does he mention that another member of the committee was the architect selected to do the complex who also happened to be the son of the GOP boss who helped get Sarah into politics in the first place and was described as her political mentor.
Van Flein dismisses this web of connections -- to say nothing of the donations from contractors that he ignores -- by saying that "people in a small town appear to know one another, support one another, and take on big projects together." He says "apparently that's uncommon in New York." Actually, it's quite common here, and journalists here write about these incestuous networks whenever we discover them, just like Alaskan journalists do. And there's that nothing that lawyers who threaten lawsuits without uncovering any substantive errors can do about it.
Here's a DailyKos diary about the issue.