Author and film maker Geoffrey Dunn has written an essay for Huffington Post on what he regards as important new revelations on Sarah Palin's radical political agenda, based on Thursday's testimony in Federal court in Anchorage, by Bill Fulton. Dunn effectively uses several quotes from activist Andree McLeod. In his summation of the essay, Dunn links to my Friday diary here, noting:
This sordid cast of characters reflects the roots of Palin's support in the Last Frontier -- support, as my friend Phil Munger at Progressive Alaska notes, that has now played out its course.
Here's why Dunn thinks the Cox-Bailey-Fulton meeting - probably on the evening of March 13th, 2008 - was so important:
The introduction of Fulton to Cox took place in a suite at the Captain Cook hotel in Anchorage during the 2008 Alaska Republican Convention, at which Palin and her minions were trying to execute a political coup d'état against Palin's longtime Republican Party nemesis, Randy Ruedrich.
The convention -- and Palin's sub rosa role in it -- was to become a catalyst for both swelling anti-Palin sentiment in Alaska (well prior to her vice-presidential selection) and for Anchorage-based activist Andree McLeod to launch her own good-government crusade against Palin.
Palin's feud with GOP kingpin Ruedrich was longstanding and well-known throughout Alaska prior to the convention. What wasn't known until now is that Palin's forces at the convention were working in concert with some of Alaska's fringe elements, including Fulton, who testified last week that he, Miller and Bailey had met with Cox to discuss political "strategy" in Anchorage.
McLeod, a former close ally of Palin's who had helped her to launch her statewide political career, was an eye-witness to many of the machinations of Miller, Bailey, Fulton and Palin's longtime gopher, Ivy Frye, at the convention. She said it all had the feel of a "paramilitary operation," replete with Walkie-Talkies and a "strange paranoia."
"I felt like I traveled to the Twilight Zone," McLeod declared. "Having previously attended GOP conventions and meetings, it was surreal to initially observe Fulton's menacing conduct, and then to watch the scenes unfold as if they came straight out of a movie script." Indeed, McLeod was so curious about Fulton's behavior in particular that she queried him about his activities. "He told me that he was providing 'security,'" McLeod recalls. At one point she witnessed Fulton and three other of his associates surround Miller while exiting an elevator "and they marched off in military formation."
McLeod, who also was in direct conversation with Frye at various points throughout the afternoon, contends that Bailey and Frye were in constant contact with Palin via cell phone throughout the convention. "That's when I knew that Sarah wasn't looking out for what was best for Alaska," McLeod asserted. "She was only looking out for what was best for her." McLeod also witnessed Miller and Frye leave the convention together and depart -- again, under Fulton's paramilitary protection -- in a white SUV. "It was all really strange," she said. "It was like Black-Ops."
The troubling nature of the Fulton-Miller-Bailey activities convinced McLeod that Palin had conspired with members of her administration to oust Ruedrich, all while working on government time. She filed her first Freedom of Information Act request against Palin and her administration as a result of her suspicions.
So, this two-and-a-half day convention and its behind-the-scene deals were the beginning of McLeod's combined disenchantment and quert for the truth about Palin's honesty? That's Dunn's take, and he argues it convincingly. I feel that had Andree not come around that day, she would have done so soon.
While McLeod wasn't able to identify any emails related to the alleged convention conspiracy (Bailey had by then orchestrated a secret, extra-governmental email system that circumvented Alaska's open government laws) there were two significant outcomes that would eventually lead to Palin's political downfall:
1) McLeod says she discovered emails indicating that Palin and Bailey had violated state personnel protocols in the hiring of a state surveyor. As a result, McLeod filed the first of several Ethics Act complaints against Palin's administration; Bailey eventually was required to undergo "ethics training" because of the "troubling nature" of his emails; and
2) McLeod's resulting cache of some 20,000 Palin emails proved to be a goldmine for national reporters during the 2008 presidential election seeking substantive background information on Palin.
I'm not quite sure where Mr. Dunn is coming from here:
1) The emails came out long after the 2008 campaign.
2) There was already ample information about Palin's radical political ties to fringe groups available at the time of the 2008 GOP convention, and some of it went into play by the end of the second week of September, 2008.
Simultaneously, in mid-September '08, Palin's denial that her husband had been a member, possibly an activist, in The Alaska Independence Party, was out there; and Palin's official Wasilla City Council portrait from the mid-1990s was closely scrutinized. In it she is clearly shown looking at a John Birch Society newsletter, a slightly smug smile on her face.
I wrote about it at the time:
This official portrait of Wasilla City Council member Sarah Palin, was taken in 1995, as she was planning her run against John Stein for his office as mayor. At that time, her husband, who is now refusing to honor a valid subpoena from the the State of Alaska, was a member of the Alaska Independence Party. It is a group that advocates a citizen's responsibility not to honor such "illegal subpoenas."
The document opened up in her three-ring binder is a copy of a mass-mailed flyer from the John Birch Society. She probably got it along with the other council members. It hasn't been determined yet whether or not it normally would have ended up bound as it appears in front of her. Next to it is an unopened copy of the magazine, The New American.
Confronted with this information, Palin spokesperson Michael Goldfarb says, "This photo from the early to mid 90s shows the Governor having her photo taken in front of a three ring binder of information from local citizens presented regularly to Wasilla council members by the town clerk. These binders featured material given by members of the public to all council members."
William N. Grigg stated today that, "I was a Senior Editor of The New American at the time the "Con-Con Call" story was published. We did send thousands of reprints of that story to every state and local policy-maker we could identify. I'm pretty sure Mrs. Palin's only contact with the JBS in this matter was receiving a copy of the reprint from local members."
I'm not so sure. At the time this happened, Palin was gearing up a campaign against Wasilla Mayor Stein, that was comprised of the following basic elements:
-- Eliminate the new Wasilla Police Department
-- Do away with taxes, including the recent city sales tax
-- John Stein's wife is a Democrat
-- John Stein's wife has a different last name than Stein
-- John Stein's wife is a baby killer (pro-choice)
-- John Stein might be Jewish
I was there. I watched that campaign unfold, bringing out a level of slime our community hadn't seen until then.
It makes it hard for me to believe, that, with all the stuff a city council member gets to go through, she somehow blindly chose those pages to show for her portrait.
Others covered this back then too, including David Neiwert and Max Blumenthal. People covered her ties to Christianist eliminationists. They covered her relationships with political types who were (and some are) borderline or outright militia fodder.
From what has come out so far regarding timelines in the Schaeffer Cox trial, it seems that back in early and mid 2008, Cox wasn't noticeably much more weird than any of dozens of people I knew then in fringe right-wing politics. Both Cox and Joe Miller were behind-the-scenes characters at that convention, but so were scores of other wingnuts, vying for some kind of stake in the game.
Like Andree, I was there. She came to an important awakening. I merely felt that I was watching the next inevitable step in a process - that is still rolling along merrily without Palin's, Miller's, Frank Bailey's or Cox's help - of filling one more position after another here, in GOP politics, state and local government, with Christianist characters who have no regard for democracy, or for people outside their narrow belief system.
Palin made it to national prominence purely because people wanted to use her. In making her a "game change," she became a huge bright, shiny object of distraction. That is all she ever was in the sense of real politics, and that is what she will be remembered for mostly in history.
Authors like Geoffrey Dunn and Joe McGinness added superb books about Palin's dishonesty into the mix to help our successors see this clearly. Dunn brings up Frank Bailey, author of another book on Palin, and participant in the March 13th, 2008 meeting:
Bailey makes no mention of this extraordinary meeting with Cox and Fulton in his not-so-tell-all Blind Allegiance. Nor does he address his, Miller's and Frye's efforts to oust Ruedrich at the convention.
It's yet another Bailey cover-up.
I hope for the day when Palin has disappeared as deep into well-deserved obscurity as has Bailey.