Investigation ties Palin to 'extreme right-wing fringe'
The McCain campaign has attempted to make an issue out of Barack Obama's limited connections with former Weather Underground member William Ayers. However, according to a new investigative report, vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin herself has had a far close and more extensive association with Alaska's own political extremists than she has ever acknowledged.
The story at Salon.com by Max Blumenthal and David Neiwart offers an in-depth examination of the crucial role played in Palin's political career by two members of the secessionist Alaska Independence Party (AIP).
When Blumenthal appeared on Thursday's Rachel Maddow Show, he began by explaining that AIP -- which has links to both neo-Confederate parties in the South and the theocratic Constitutional Party -- serves as "a haven for anti-government extremists, anti-government militia members, and conspiratorial figures who believe that the United States government plans to implement a New World Order."
AIP advocates secession from the United States, and its founder, Joe Vogler, is known for having proclaiming "I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I've got no use for America or her damned institutions."
The extent of Palin's connection to AIP has previously been uncertain. Her husband Todd was a member of the party until 2002, but although Palin attended some conventions and sent them a message earlier this year saying, "Keep up the good work," she herself never belonged to the group.
The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder suggested a week ago that Todd Palin's membership in AIP should not be an issue, writing that "Maybe Todd Palin didn't believe in all of the principles the AIP espoused... indeed, the AIP seems to be a bit of a cultural relic in Alaska, a quirky old friend. ... That [Sarah] didn't dump him because he associated with some dum-dum secessionists is probably a sign of good judgment."
However, Blumenthal told Maddow that when he and co-author David Neiwert, who has been investigating anti-government militias since the 1990's, interviewed people in Palin's home town of Wasilla, they found that "Sarah Palin is far more intimately associated with the extreme right-wing fringe of Alaska than the media has acknowledged or than she is willing to acknowledge."
Blumenthal said that Palin used former AIP chairman Mark Chryson and a local John Birch Society activist known as "Black Helicopter" Steve Stoll "to advance her political career on a local and state level -- and she sought to reward them with plum political appointments."
In 1996, Chryson and Stoll helped Palin with her campaign of negative, character-based attacks on the incumbent mayor, and after Palin was elected she attempted to appoint Stoll to the seat she had formerly held on the Wasilla city council.
That appointment was blocked by another council member, who considered Stoll a "violent influence," but Palin continued to work with Chryson and Stoll on various initiatives. Chryson now says, "Every time I showed up her door was open. And that policy continued when she became governor."
This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast October 9, 2008.
Download video via RawReplay.com