Worse than ‘politics as usual’

WORSE THAN ‘POLITICS AS USUAL’…. In her Republican convention speech, Sarah Palin boasted that she “took on the old politics as usual” in Alaska, “stood up to…the good old boys,” and “put the government of our state back on the side of the people.”

The LA Times’ Charles Piller took a closer look at Palin’s approach to government, though, and found the kind of cronyism that would even make Bush blush.

* More than 100 appointments to state posts — nearly 1 in 4 — went to campaign contributors or their relatives, sometimes without apparent regard to qualifications…. Palin filled 16 state offices with appointees from families that donated $2,000 to $5,600 and were among her top political patrons.

* Several of Palin’s leading campaign donors received state-subsidized industrial development loans of up to $3.6 million for business ventures of questionable public value.

* Palin picked a donor to replace the public safety commissioner she fired. But the new top cop had to resign days later under an ethics cloud. And Palin drew a formal ethics complaint still pending against her and several aides for allegedly helping another donor and fundraiser land a state job.

Most new governors install friends and supporters in state jobs. But Alaska historians say some of Palin’s appointees were less qualified than those of her Republican and Democratic predecessors.

Terrence Cole, an Alaska political historian, said Palin showed “a disrespect for experience,” picking donors and friends for key government positions they had no business filling.

My personal favorite: “Franci Havemeister, one of several of Palin’s childhood friends tapped for leadership jobs, heads the state agriculture division. A former real estate agent, she was ridiculed in Alaska after it was reported that she had cited among her qualifications for the job a childhood love of cows.”

Remember, as far as John McCain is concerned, Palin was brought onto the ticket because of her record as a “reformer.”

By all indications, she “reformed” Alaskan government through ethics violations and jobs for unqualified donors and friends. Sounds quite a bit like George W. Bush’s approach to “reform.”

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.