Palin used Alaska ethics scandal to achieve political stardom

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New York, Oct. 24 (ANI): Former Governor Sarah Palin reportedly used a massive corruption case brewing in Alaska in 2006 to achieve political stardom.

From the early days of her primary campaign for governor, Palin 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, the FBI raided the offices of lawmakers later accused of taking bribes, Palin found herself perfectly placed to win the governorship by a comfortable margin.

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

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 U.S. Senator for 20 years. But he alienated the Alaskan public with one of his first acts as governor - appointing his daughter Lisa to take his place in the Senate. He also tried to ram an unpopular gas pipeline deal through the legislature and purchased an expensive jet with state money despite opposition from lawmakers and the public.

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, she 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 12,000 dollar fine and admit the violations Palin had alleged.

Palin also helped force Attorney General Gregg Renkes out of office because of an alleged conflict of interest. Renkes was later exonerated.

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.

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, though two of those legislators convicted are now out of prison because of prosecutorial misconduct.

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. (ANI)

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