Palin Goes Rogue: Who’s The Rube, Now, Murkowski?

By
August 27, 2010

The second of two planned reports on Alaska's unresolved Senate race

In a surprising, and for some, hilarious bit of irony concerning the Alaska GOP primary, it seems as though if Senator Lisa Murkowski had read and paid attention to Sarah Palin's Going Rogue, she may not have found herself now fighting for her political life.

Roll Call looks back to try to pinpoint why Murkowski is in this mess, but they use an awful lot of anonymous sources to do so. The theories advanced by various unnamed "Alaska insiders" include John Bitney, Murkowski's campaign manager, being "in over his head" and an underwhelming performance by two general consultants Murkowski hired.

News reports, as well as my own sources, suggest it was Bitney's incompetence that may have been the single most significant factor in Murkowski potentially blowing the race. While Palin didn't use his name in the book, only his title, out of courtesy, as I understand it, Bitney was furious at Palin's portrayal of him as an incompetent, often unkempt video game addicted aide who often dropped the ball, leading to many of Palin's early problems as Alaska Governor. Oh, and he seemed to have a real problem keeping his clothing out of his food.

Bitney joins a list of people slammed in the book who are calling it fiction, including McCain's former campaign manager, Steve Schmidt.

Hey, Murkowski, who you gonna believe, now – Palin's book, or your own eyes? Or, you know, maybe she tried to warn you, but you opted for GOP establishment cronyism over competence? That doesn't sound like the kind of Senator Alaska needs to me. Some gems regarding Bitney from Going Rogue below, interspersed with more of the story line that hints of a battle royale to come in Alaskan politics, perhaps complicated by the NRSC.

During my 2007 budget powwow, the legislative director should have been at the table with us so that there would be no surprises in the state house come veto time. Occasionally, he would wander in and out, plop down in the chair at the end of the table, nibble cookies, and absently thumb his BlackBerry. Every now and then a tired staffer on a bathroom break would pass behind him, glance down, then mouth over his head, “It’s Brick- Breaker.”

A bigger problem may be Alaskan Republican Party (ARP) Chair, Randy Ruedrich. That would be the guy who most likely ordered the phone banking for Murkowski out of the ARP HQ. He's a political enemy of both Joe Miller and Sarah Palin. That started when he resigned and later was hit with the biggest ethics fine in Alaskan history for his role on the state gas and oil commission.

Critics, including some prominent Republicans, said it was a blatant conflict of interest. On Friday, AOGCC Chair Sarah Palin had said the conflict of interest questions were hurting the agency's credibility. She said then that she might resign unless Ruedrich resolved his conflict. "The right thing has been done here," Palin said Saturday. "Randy was a qualified engineer for the commission but there was a conflict with him being a party chairman." 

But Ruedrich threw in with the anti-Palin old guard and the ARP became no friend to Sarah Palin - Governor, or not. And it was Joe Miller who then tried to unseat him as state party chair. See what I'm getting at here? Intra-state, intra-party civil war, with the potential to spill over into the national scene, in part, thanks to any possible NRSC meddling.

By then, Miller had been bitten by the political bug and he and his wife of 18 years, Kathleen Tompkins-Miller — who was appointed last year to the non-attorney seat on Alaska's Judicial Council, a seven-member panel that nominates state judges — had befriended the Palin family. Miller worked with Palin two years ago when she unsuccessfully tried to unseat Alaska Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich.

But, instead of reading Palin's book and going rogue, or for reform, Murkowski went the usual GOP establishment route - incompetent cronyism. And now she's fighting for her political life, while showing no signs of giving up.

More below on Murkowski campaign director and former Palin legislative director, John Bitney, who may have once again bitten off more than he can chew. Thank God he has his tie with which to wipe his mouth. Heh! But, make no mistake, this is now a battle between two opposing camps who don't like one another very much. The NRSC is the wild card. And we already know their reputation for screwing things up. So, stay tuned.

The battle for the GOP may not wait until after November. There's a real possibility we start having that fight right here and right now. You can help support Joe Miller here. If the establishment is lined up against him as much as it appears, he's going to need all the help he can get.

My first legislative director was one of these. He turned out to be a BlackBerry games addict who couldn’t seem to keep his lunch off his tie. He relished the perception that he was a “player” in Juneau politics, but we were never sure which team he was on.

The fact that his shirt was buttoned one button off, lunch had landed on his tie, his fly was unzipped, and his shirttail was poking through it, didn’t exactly inspire confidence.

He had worked in the capitol and used to be a lobbyist. He was an “insider,” so we thought we should hire at least one of them to show us where the light switches were. “These guys need to be reminded that you were elected on your promise of ‘no more politics-as-usual,’ ” he said. “You gotta go in there and tell lawmakers up front, ‘All of you here are in need of some adult supervision.’ Trust me, I know this stuff, they want to hear it.” So I followed his advice. I had my come-to-Jesus meeting with legislators. They didn’t quite want to hear it. When the fallout began after that meeting, I looked at the legislative director. He looked at the ground and shrugged as if to say, “Wasn’t me.”

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Comments:
  1. Dan Collins says:

    Yeah, but who’s the new de facto leader of the Republican Party, Dan?

  2. X11B1P says:

    “Yeah, but who’s the new de facto leader of the Republican Party, Dan?”
    I keep hearing its Rush Limbaugh, and several months ago he handed that title over to Gen. Powell. I don’t know if Powell is now the defacto leader or not – he’s been quiet lately. I vote for Greg Guttfeld – he brings the lotion!

  3. gary gulrud says:

    Nice catch, Bitney and Ruedrich. Somehow Murkowski’s third party gambit seems likely to backfire with Alaskans. Too much light cast into the corner.

  4. Jeffersonian says:

    These lifers are dug in deep. It’s not going to be easy to dislodge them, but it has to be done. They’ve done enough damage.

  5. salvage says:

    >Who’s The Rube, Now, Murkowski?
    Anyone who voted for Palin?
    It’s amazing how she walks away from her duty to the Alaskan voters to make money on Fox and other wingnut venues and you still worship her. You’re like baby ducks, once you imprint onto a shape you can’t help but follow it.

  6. JustOneMan says:

    Anyone who voted for Obama?
    Its amazing how he walks away from his duty to the Illinois voters to take on the responsibility of President without any experience or vision for America. And with all his wingnut antics (including his never ending quest to “buy shrimps”) you still worship him. You’re like baby ducks, once you imprint onto a shape you can’t help but follow it.

  7. Salvage, you still running on them bald tires, boy?

  8. Rich Fader says:

    Let’s be honest. The vast majority of the folks squawking “Palin’s a quitter!” never wanted her to start in the first place.

  9. salvage says:

    Ha! Ha! Yes! Obama quit! He is no longer leading the people who voted for him!
    Stupid naturally or on purpose? I honestly can’t tell which you are.

  10. Anon says:

    Palin is a quitter, but that is largely beside the point, especially since I at least don’t know what her plan is. If her plan is to try and run for president then she should not have quit as governor, if her plan is to be an ‘outsider’ who is free to do/say/support whomever she wants as her way of contributing to politics, then she did the right thing.
    I think she would be crazy to try and run for president and that it would be a disaster for the GOP and the country if she were nominated, as a populist rabble rouser with a good amount of charisma and influence, she’s been pretty effective.

  11. Chris Crocker (D-Bitney Fan!) says:

    Leave Bitney alone!

  12. SM says:

    “instead of reading Palin’s book and going rogue, or for reform, Murkowski went the usual GOP establishment route – incompetent cronyism.”
    Much like Palin herself, who supported her incompetent crony John McCain in the primaries.

  13. When it comes to politics, it’s almost impossible to draw the right conclusion as far as this or that candidate is concerned.That’s why people keep on suffering because of all wrong decisions thay have made when electing some representative.

  14. wormme says:

    As wave after wave of nuisance lawsuits were filed against her as governor, Sarah and her freakin’ FAMILY were being savaged, non-stop. She stepped down to serve both her family and the executive branch of Alaska.
    So, letting “Sarah is a quitter” folks get away with the charge GUARANTEES more such contemptible behavior in the future. I sure hope you’re ignorant of this, salvage and anon. The alternative is…morally untenable?

  15. Anon says:

    She could have used her position as governor to call out the frivolous lawsuit critics, expose them and shame them and to call for changes to Alaskan law to protect future governors from such frivolous bs…which the AG I think has already called for such legal changes. She did not have to quit as governor in order to defend herself. I suspect if she had told Alaskans–hey this is costing the state XX and me XX, something needs to change–that her numbers would have gone up.

  16. Not Likely says:

    “As wave after wave of nuisance lawsuits were filed against her as governor, Sarah and her freakin’ FAMILY were being savaged, non-stop.”
    Got any proof that it was worse for her than a typical Vice Presidential candidate?

  17. alwaysfiredup says:

    “she walks away from her duty to the Alaskan voters”
    Actually she seems to be serving them well by helping out a candidate to dislodge Murkowski. Looks like she won, too.
    “Got any proof that it was worse for her than a typical Vice Presidential candidate?”
    Yup. $500,000 in legal bills that would not be reimbursed by her state, by her campaign, or by her illegal-only-in-Alaska legal aid fund.

  18. Not Likely says:

    “She could have used her position as governor to call out the frivolous lawsuit critics, expose them and shame them and to call for changes to Alaskan law to protect future governors from such frivolous bs”
    … if it were actually true that she was being bombarded by vindictive lawsuits. Most of the money she was spending to defend herself was for a case SHE filed. This “Palin quit because she was beign targeted unfairly” nonsense is just another lame excuse her starry-eyed fans eat up uncritically.

  19. salvage says:

    >Actually she seems to be serving them well by helping out a candidate to dislodge Murkowski. Looks like she won, too.
    Ha! Ha! Yes! That’s what governors are supposed to do when they’re elected quit and then endorse other candidates while making tons of loot from FoxNews.
    The morons of Alaska voted in a genuine twit with Palin so really getting elected there can’t be much of a honor, bit like winning a leper colony beauty contest.

  20. Ricky says:

    I think we all have encountered those employees who are always on the lookout for a better position, never at the office, always going for interviews, etc.on the company’s time, just come in to check the emails, make sure the boss sees them every now and then, and off they go, pursuing their dreams for a better job. All the while collecting a paycheck from their employer. And then they land the big job, and hand in their resignation, and expect the company to congratulate them and wish them all the best.
    That is the kind of employee Hillary and Barack were/are, that is what they did.
    Now companies would agree with me, that they prefer an honest employee like Sarah, who had the integrity to resign, cause she knew she had other plans, and her integrity would not allow her to take advantage of her employer like Hillary and Barack did.
    In the ideal world, this is how politicians should do it. The American people being the employer of government will be wise to start electing people of great character like Sarah. With the likes of her we may experience what we thought impossible, a little bit of the “ideal world”.

  21. Mikey NTH says:

    Establishments do not like being disestablished so it is not surprising they are fighting the Palins – and the Tea Partiers. They need to be beat, though, or their will be no reform. a good, sound thrashing of establishment candidates is needed to set the proper tone – abject fear – for the remainder.

  22. NeoVictorian says:

    I pointed out Bitney in the previous post before I had got to this one, but I want to take issue with Palin not using his name “out of courtesy” in her book. She didn’t use a lot of names, including the name of the man who beat her in the only race she ever lost, the Republican primary for Alaska Lieutenant Governor in 2002. His name is Loren Leman, and he did adds and calls for Miller. Palin not naming HIM in her book wasn’t “courtesy.” Going Rogue is an interesting read, but I wouldn’t take it objective fact when it describes the Alaska political scene. I really doubt John Bitney ever wiped his mouth with his tie. Whether he ran a good campaign for Lisa Murkowski is another thing entirely.

  23. Not Likely says:

    “Yup. $500,000 in legal bills that would not be reimbursed by her state, by her campaign, or by her illegal-only-in-Alaska legal aid fund.”
    I’ll ask again, got any proof that she was worse off than your typical Vice Presidential candidate? What were those legal bills for? Why was the greatest expenditure on a case she herself filed?

  24. Ragspierre says:

    I gawd, it is ALWAYS soooo much fun to see the PDS on display here, and watch complete idiots wasting their time vilifying another private citizen with no power.
    Please, continue…

  25. Not likely, they were for a series of serial malicious lawsuits EVERY SINGLE ONE OF WHICH WAS DISMISSED AS BASELESS. You know it, we know it, but you seem content to lie.

  26. Ragspierre says:

    “…but you seem content to lie.”
    Not “content”…they can’t lie fast enough.
    It’s all the Collective has…

  27. Not Likely says:

    “Not likely, they were for a series of serial malicious lawsuits EVERY SINGLE ONE OF WHICH WAS DISMISSED AS BASELESS. You know it, we know it, but you seem content to lie.”
    Can you name them? Do you have a link? Do you know ANYTHING about the subject besides what Palin told you to say about it?

  28. Ragspierre says:

    How ’bout this….
    YOU put up the links to all the complaints or suits that found any Palin wrong-doing. Full cites.
    Or is that “Not Likely”….????

  29. Not Likely says:

    “YOU put up the links to all the complaints or suits that found any Palin wrong-doing. Full cites.”
    Why would I do that? I never claimed that she was found guilty of wrong doing.

  30. Ragspierre says:

    Yep. As I thought. “Not Likely” to show any balls…

  31. Arctos says:

    Here, I’ll help out.
    Some of the complaints were minor, but she also got away with a lot as governor, whether it was illegal or not, particularly considering she promised to be fully “accountable” and “transparent.” She was neither. Would you be OK with your governor charging your state $700/nt to put up his or her kids in a NYC hotel? Having a private e-mail account for state business? Charging your state per diem while living in his or her own home? Be honest: You have no problem with any of that for any state official?
    The Palin that people want to believe in is not the Palin that Alaskans experienced.
    “Palin Defense Fund is Called Illegal”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/25/us/25brfs-PALINDEFENSE_BRF.html
    “Palin to Reimburse State for Family Travel”
    “As Petumenos described it, the governor agreed not to contest certain charges. He agreed not to file a formal accusation or take the case to a hearing.”
    http://www.adn.com/2009/02/24/700958/palin-to-reimburse-state-for-family.html
    This may not have been illegal because of poorly written statutes, but it was certainly unethical for her to charge the state of Alaska per diem to stay in her own home:
    http://www.adn.com/2009/02/17/693695/palin-owes-tax-on-per-diem-state.html
    “Troopergate Report: Palin Abused Power”
    http://www.adn.com/2008/10/10/552393/troopergate-report-palin-abused.html
    She claimed that this report “exonerated” her. It did not. (Her husband and staff members also refused to respond to legislative subpoenas. As for this investigation being a political witch hunt: Bullshit. She herself said she “welcomed” the inquiry–until McCain appointed her as America’s princess.) She didn’t like the results of the official report (conducted by a Republican, FYI). She then filed an ethics complaint against herself with the Personnel Board to get a report more to her liking. Her complaint incurred two-thirds of the costs of all ethics complaints that the Personnel Board investigated (nothing like the $2 million she claimed).
    http://www.henkimaa.com/2009/07/07/the-2-million-dollar-meme/
    http://www.juneauempire.com/stories/072609/loc_471000849.shtml
    The report she requested found that Todd Palin was a private citizen and therefore could say and do what he wanted. A later lawsuit over the e-mails he regularly received about state business found just the opposite–that he was a trusted advisor and therefore it was OK for him to be involved in state affairs. So which is it? Private citizen who can pressure state officials for a family vendetta, or trusted advisor helping her run the governor’s office?
    I don’t expect anyone here to actually read the actual reports, documents, factual accounts, etc. That would destroy the illusion that is Sarah Palin.
    P.S. Sarah Palin did not get Joe Miller elected. There are several complicated factors involved that the national media and blogs like this don’t understand. Many, many people voted for him as a protest vote against Murkowski or because they think the Democratic candidate will find him much easier to beat. The Republicans in Alaska have an open primary. I’m a registered nonpartisan and often request the Republican ballot to vote for people or against candidates I don’t like. Furthermore, Alaska is not nearly as red as people think. I have voted for Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Greens, Alaska Independence Party candidates, and ditch-diggers who ran against Ted Stevens. There are more registered nonpartisans or independents than either party in Alaska. Party allegiance is less important than who you know.
    She did not “topple” Frank Murkowski in the first place. He was the most unpopular governor in the country when he ran for re-election, with a 19 percent favorability rating. A burrito could have beaten him. She drew only 48 percent of the vote in the general election–114,000 votes. Her favorability ratings started dropping with Troopergate and continued plummeting as soon as she started running for VP and Alaskans learned about so many of her other ethical transgressions, such as the per diem, the travel, etc. She is widely considered to be a joke and an embarrassment here. Only fools consider her to be some kind of kingmaker based on Joe Miller’s performance. Even he is too whacked out for most Alaskans. This state isn’t about to support someone who won’t bring home the federal dollars. She backed off completely on not taking stimulus funds due to the outcry from Republicans and Democrats.
    But go ahead and believe what you want if it makes a prettier world for you.

  32. Ragspierre says:

    Wow, Arctos….
    What a crock.
    Why didn’t you beat Palin, Murkowski, Miller…?
    Hmmm….???

  33. gary gulrud says:

    “I have voted for Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Greens, Alaska Independence Party candidates, and ditch-diggers who ran against Ted Stevens.”
    And not a bit put off with Holder for pulling the fait accompli conviction? Troopergate was indeed a total crock, its inclusion in your litany is damning alone.
    Bitter clinger.

  34. salvage says:

    Arctos you can’t give facts to wingnuts, they don’t see them, bit like vampires and their reflection. Palin can do whatever she likes no matter how nakedly self-serving, corrupt, unethical, stupid or crazy they will still chant her name.
    It’s what makes ‘em wingnuts.
    But please imagine is Joe Biden’s teenage daughter got knocked up what they would be saying? Or if all those scandals were likewise the Democratic VP candidate’s?

  35. Ragspierre says:

    Wrong, as always, sewage.
    Nobody I know is chanting Palin’s name except you guys…as you stick pins in your fetish dolls.
    She is driving you (a very short trip, it must be said) COMPLETELY crazy.
    Funny you should mention Biden (a REALLY corrupt guy) and Palin in the same post…with no apparent appreciation for your own irony.
    Now, please DO spend an hour composing another of your laughable “posts”. It will keep you out of traffic…

  36. salvage says:

    >She is driving you (a very short trip, it must be said) COMPLETELY crazy.
    This is another weird wingnut thing, they think this is a positive quality in a candidate.
    Of course by “drive crazy” they mean when people who point out flaws, inconsistencies, lies and outright retardation of political figures they’ve imprinted on. Not sure why they equate “criticism” and “crazy” but it’s what they do. Like when people said “Hey invading Iraq is a mistake, it will most likely end in a expensive and bloody quagmire” wingnuts would chuckle about Bush “driving ‘em crazy!”.
    This charge is particularly retarded considering Palin doesn’t drive anyone crazy, she’s hysterically funny, I still watch the YouTube clips of her trying to explain what she reads and her opinion on the “Bush Doctrine”, her reading off her hand while making jokes about Obama’s teleprompter and all the other video taped evidence of her small brain.
    Politically if I were a Democrat I’d be delighted with her, she’s peeling away the wingnutbase from the GOP and driving the mushy undecided middle to the Obama camp. I’m pretty sure if anyone hates Palin to the level of insanity it’d be the RNC establishment.

  37. Ragspierre says:

    Good! That one only took three hours…
    Continue… Please…!!!!

  38. Ricky says:

    Dream on sally.

  39. Arctos, unfortunately, you and your fellow proven liars and paid Obama shills have already tried that one, and yet Palin just becomes more and more popular.
    Of course you hate Palin. Liberal welfare cases like yourself are endemic in the Obama Party of Alaska, and especially hate people like Palin who kicked you off the public dole and stopped your bribes and kickbacks.
    The really funny part is how you defend and support a state trooper who was drunk on duty, tased his child, and threatened to kill his ex-wife’s family. It’s a sign of how Obama Party puppets like yourself in Alaska really are incapable of functioning without government welfare.

  40. “Some of the complaints were minor, but she also got away with a lot as governor, whether it was illegal or not”
    And this truly shows the delusional hatemongering of the bigots like Arctos and salvage.
    In other words, Arctos, salvage, and the Obama Party want Palin arrested and prosecuted for everything she does, WHETHER IT IS ILLEGAL OR NOT.
    In contrast, Arctos and salvage support everything Obama does, no matter how illegal it is.
    Therein is what Americans are realizing. They recognize that Palin was getting sued by desperate and bitter Obama Party puppets like Arctos and salvage, not because what she was doing was illegal — they ADMIT that it wasn’t illegal — but solely to harass, attack, and bankrupt her.
    Perhaps the desperate Arctos can explain why it supports filing lawsuits and ethics claims against Sarah Palin for doing things that it itself admits WERE NOT ILLEGAL.
    It is harassment, plain and simple.

  41. salvage says:

    >yet Palin just becomes more and more popular.
    You see you keep saying stuff like that but poll after poll shows the exact opposite that the only people who like her are the same amount of people who think Obama was born in Kenya or Indonesia and is a secret Muslim.
    Do you think that’s a coincidence or that maybe there’ some overlap there?
    >And this truly shows the delusional hatemongering of the bigots like Arctos and salvage.
    Ha! Ha! Yes we are bigots who monger hate!
    >In contrast, Arctos and salvage support everything Obama does, no matter how illegal it is.
    Please present an example of this.
    >They recognize that Palin was getting sued by desperate and bitter Obama Party puppets like Arctos and salvage, not because what she was doing was illegal — they ADMIT that it wasn’t illegal — but solely to harass, attack, and bankrupt her.
    Ha! Ha! Yes! We are suing her because Obama ordered us to!
    Are you really this stupid?

  42. Moobs says:

    hey salvage is the same guy who supports the mosque but he and his cronies sally and arctos think prop 8 is homophobic