22 September 2008

Todd Palin: Wingman, Lobbyist, Chief of Staff?

WaPo has a long article on the extent of Todd Palin's involvement in Alaskan state politics. Obviously, he supports his wife. He's also got her back. And he's frequently involved in advancing policy, whether by making phone calls, attending meetings, or weighing in on hot button issues. The upshot? Nobody can say for certain, but based on personal accounts from colleagues and friends, there's reason to ask questions.

From late in the article (screen three):

The extent of Todd Palin's involvement in issues is partly obscured by the refusal of the governor's office to release documents detailing internal communications with him. In a recent response to a citizen's public records request, the office refused to turn over 1,100 e-mails but released a log showing that 44 of those held back were sent to "T. Palin." The log showed him copied on e-mails regarding, among other issues, the union that represents state troopers and a parental-consent abortion bill.

. . . Even as Sarah Palin's popularity ratings soar, locals harbor some concerns about the pressures of the couple's lifestyle and Todd Palin's quasi-official status.

Tom Whitstine, a fellow Wasilla conservative, snowmobiler and North Slope oilman, is critical of the Palins. "How he works and his exact position with the administration is pretty gray," he said. "It's not any great secret, but where is the accountability?"
It's probably not unusual for spouses to get involved. But Todd Palin sounds very involved. Enough so that Sarah Palin's supporters have taken to the pages of the local papers.
Criticism of the Palins often brings a personal response. Longtime Sarah Palin supporter Bud Knox, a gun dealer and retired plumbing business owner, wrote a letter to the Anchorage newspaper noting that while he and the governor are "close friends," he was concerned by her husband's prominence. "I did not vote for Todd. So keep quiet; I don't need to hear from you," he said.

In short order, the phone rang. It was the governor, calling to respond. "In Alaska, that's the way it works," he said. "Politics doesn't stop at the front door of your house. It goes outside and can go anywhere."
Interesting letter, interesting response. The notion seems to be that that's just the way it works in Alaska. Small population, everybody knows everybody, everybody speaks their minds. The article does not delve so much into that aspect, which is too bad because I'd love to learn about the trends of other political spouses and their roles in the spotlight and the policy making.