Justin Rood at ABC News:
“Evangelicals and social conservatives have embraced McCain’s vice presidential pick for what they call her “pro-family,” “pro-woman” values. But in Alaska, critics say Gov. Sarah Palin has not addressed the rampant sexual abuse, rape, domestic violence and murder that make her state one of the most dangerous places in the country for women and children.
Alaska leads the nation in reported forcible rapes per capita, according to the FBI, with a rate two and a half times the national average a ranking it has held for many years. Children are no safer: Public safety experts believe that the prevalence of rape and sexual assault of minors in Alaska makes the state’s record one of the worst in the U.S. And while solid statistics on domestic violence are hard to come by, most including Gov. Palin agree it is an “epidemic.”
Despite the governor’s pro-family image, public safety experts and advocates for women and children struggled when asked to explain how Palin’s leadership has helped address the crisis. And current and former officials from Palin’s administration confirmed that an ambitious plan to tackle the crisis has apparently sunk into doldrums after arriving at the governor’s office.
“She’s really done a lot of work on oil and gas, but when it comes to violence against women and children. . . we haven’t been on her radar as a priority,” said Peggy Brown, executive director of the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. (…)
Some members of Palin’s administration were focused on the issue of sexual violence. Officials in the Department of Public Safety were devising an ambitious, multi-million-dollar initiative to seriously tackle sex crimes in the state, but Palin’s office put the plan on hold in July.
Days later, Palin fired its chief proponent, Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, after he declined to dismiss a state trooper Palin accused of threatening her own family members. Palin has said she fired Monegan because she wanted to move his department in a “new direction,” and he was not being “a team player on budgeting issues.” The dismissal is now at the center of a hotly-contested investigation by the state legislature.
The status of the plan, which would have “fast-tracked” sex crime cases via a dedicated group that included specially-trained investigators, judges and prosecutors, is unknown. “I’d ask the governor,” said one official with knowledge of the plan. Numerous inquiries to Palin’s campaign spokeswoman went unreturned.”
Unlike most states, Alaska gets most of its revenues from oil. For this reason, as the Boston Globe reports, “in her 20 months in office, Palin’s toughest financial decisions involved dickering with the Legislature on creative ways to spend and salt away the billions of dollars in oil revenues pouring into the state treasury.” With the price of oil skyrocketing, she has been able to send every Alaskan thousands of dollars. It’s safe to assume, therefore, that the reason for not pursuing the new sex crimes initiative was not lack of funds; it was lack of interest, plus the need to punish the guy who wouldn’t fire her ex-brother-in-law.
On behalf of victims of sexual violence everywhere, I’d like to congratulate Sarah Palin on her clear grasp of what truly matters: personal vendettas, not preventing sex crimes and domestic violence.