Sarah Palin rode Alaska scandal to political stardom: Report

Last Updated 03 May 2018, 04:20 IST

From the early days of primary campaign for Alaskan governor, 46-year-old Palin had cast herself as a reformer, a Republican who had challenged the state party chairman and a Republican state official over alleged ethics violations.

When, just two months before the general election, FBI sleuths raided the offices of lawmakers later accused of taking bribes, Palin found herself perfectly placed to win the governorship by a comfortable margin, the 'ABC News' reported.

"She positioned herself as the fresh face untainted by past bargains and past compromises," Cliff Groh, an attorney who is writing a book about political corruption in Alaska, was quoted as saying.

In fact, for Palin, her shot at Alaska's top office came with the public's desire to see a newcomer crack down on the perceived culture of cronyism in Juneau. Her timing could not have been better.

Frank Murkowski had been elected governor in 2002 after serving as US Senator for 20 years. But he alienated the Alaskan public with one of his first acts as governor -- by appointing his daughter Lisa to take his place in the Senate.

Before deciding to run for governor in 2006, Palin had made a name for herself during a short tenure on the state's Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to which she was appointed by Murkowski in early 2003.

Before she resigned a year later, Palin had filed private complaints against fellow commissioner Randy Ruedrich, the state GOP chairman, claiming he had done party business on state time and leaked information to oil company executives.

Ruedrich was forced to resign. She then filed a public complaint, and Ruedrich had to pay a USD 12,000 fine and admit the violations Palin had alleged.

While Palin was on the stump, FBI agents were taping drunken meetings between Alaska lawmakers and oil services executives who wanted to slash the oil tax. One legislator took cash on camera; others asked for future jobs.

Palin won the August 22 GOP primary easily. Incumbent governor Murkowski came in a distant third, the report said.

A little over a week after Palin's victory, the Alaska corruption scandal broke. FBI agents raided the offices of six Republican lawmakers. Twelve people were ultimately indicted and 11 convicted, including three lawmakers.

Her victory in November famously catapulted her from the former mayor of small-town Wasilla to the state's top seat, and less than two years later to Republican candidate for vice president.

(Published 24 October 2010, 09:17 IST)

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