Resignation of Sarah Palin

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Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin
McCain–Palin campaign, 2008
Governorship of Alaska, 2006–2009
Early political career of Sarah Palin, 1992–2005

Political positions · Electoral history
Public image · Saturday Night Live parodies
Resignation as Governor
Going Rogue: An American Life
Sarah Palin's Alaska

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Sarah Palin gives farewell speech at Fairbanks' Pioneer Park.
Palinproject.jpgThis article is part of a series about
Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin
McCain–Palin campaign, 2008
Governorship of Alaska, 2006–2009
Early political career of Sarah Palin, 1992–2005

Political positions · Electoral history
Public image · Saturday Night Live parodies
Resignation as Governor
Going Rogue: An American Life
Sarah Palin's Alaska

The resignation of Sarah Palin as Governor of Alaska was announced on July 3, 2009 and became effective on July 26. Sean Parnell, the lieutenant governor, took Palin's place as governor.[1]


Reasons for the resignation

Palin announced she was resigning her office due to the costs and distractions of battling the ethics investigations launched against her,[2] and described as “insane” the amount of time and money that both she and the state of Alaska had expended.[3] She said the state had spent $2 million and she and her husband Todd would be spending "more than half a million dollars in legal bills in order to set the record straight."[4] Other media sources backed Palin's statement that she had incurred large, personal financial debts defending against the ethics charges.[5] The Anchorage Daily News reported that much of the $1.9 million cost cited by Palin consisted of the regular salaries of state employees who would have to be paid, regardless.[6] However, the Governor's spokesperson said that in order to respond to the ethics complaints, staffers from multiple state agencies had had to set aside their normal duties, state lawyers had been pulled off other cases resulting in "lost value to the state", and "hundreds of thousands of dollars" had been spent on outside legal counsel and equipment.[6] In addition to responding to the ethics complaints, the state attorneys had to review public records requests to determine what information to release; 238 requests were filed during the Palin administration, 189 of them after she was named as John McCain's running mate.[6]

Palin also said she was resigning to avoid becoming a lame duck governor once it was known that she was not seeking a second term, stating "it may be tempting and more comfortable to just keep your head down, plod along, and appease those who demand: 'Sit down and shut up,' but that's the worthless, easy path; that's a quitter's way out".[3]

Palin declared that although she loved her job and it hurt to leave it, her decision was in the best interest of Alaska. She said that she expected to continue her involvement in public affairs as a private citizen, and that the lack of an official title would not bother her, nor would it hamper her effectiveness.[3]

A crowd estimated at 5,000 people gathered in Fairbanks' Pioneer Park to watch Palin turn over her office to Sean Parnell.
The press conference announcing the resignation was at the Palins' lakefront home in Wasilla.

Palin officially stepped down as Alaska's governor on July 26, 2009. She delivered a fiery farewell address in which she admonished the media to leave the new governor's children alone.[7]



A Rasmussen poll (published on July 7, 2009) found that Palin's approval by Republican voters had remained stable following her resignation announcement,[8] while a USA Today/Gallup poll (published on July 8) found that her approval by Republican voters had increased slightly.[9] A CBS poll (published July 13) indicated that 22% of all Americans and 33% of Republicans believed Palin has the ability to be an effective president.[10] In a Gallup Poll (published on July 16) on potential Republican candidates for 2012, Palin came in second, behind former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.[11]

Speculation and response

In the wake of Palin's announcement, it was suggested that she was resigning because she was under criminal investigation.[12][13] The FBI categorically denied that they were either investigating or preparing to indict her.[12] Palin's personal attorney issued a strong statement threatening bloggers and news organizations with defamation lawsuits.[14][13]

Politicians and pundits

Politicians and pundits had a mixed reaction to Palin's resignation. Republican Alaska State Representative Mike Hawker stated that quitting "gives her unfettered ability to pursue her economic interests, whether it be a book deal or speeches ... without being cluttered by state ethics law."[15] Alaska U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican, said she was "deeply disappointed that the governor has decided to abandon the state and her constituents before her term has concluded."[2] Former Alaska governor Tony Knowles, the Democrat Palin defeated for governor in 2006, said that "[s]he closed a chapter in Alaska politics on a very weird and bizarre note... Friends or foes alike would have never thought that she would be a quitter, but that's what she did today."[16] Congressman Steve King, a Republican from Iowa, said: "I don't know of anyone who has successfully and voluntarily pulled themselves out of political office and been able to leverage that into more political success".[17] Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura labeled Palin a "quitter" and said, "it offends me over the fact that she told the people of Alaska she wanted to be their governor. And that's a four-year commitment. And now, right in the middle, she quits?"[18][19][20]

David Frum, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush[21] said: "Basically, quitting for the stated reason that you can't get anything done in your job and because you can't endure the criticism you're receiving and then cashing in, in order to make a lot of money is not a good resume with which to run for president of the United States."[22] National Review editor Rich Lowry said Palin had "plenty of time if (as I assume) she wants to run in 2012, and she obviously has plenty of capital with Republicans," but that her "terrible", "rambling" speech was "not an auspicious start."[23] The New York Times' conservative columnist Ross Douthat noted that Palin is "young enough (and, yes, talented enough) to have a second act," and that it may have been her intent to go "off the political map for the duration of the Obama era".[24] Republican political consultant Mary Matalin said that Palin's "brilliant" decision left her "freed up and liberated the way Mitt Romney is to raise money and get political chips".[25] The Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol opined that the move "could be a shrewd one" because "she can do her book, give speeches, travel the country and the world, campaign for others, meet people, get more educated on the issues ... without being criticized for neglecting her duties in Alaska."[26] Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh said that if Palin "has any desire for a future, be it in politics, be it in media or whatever, she’s going to have to do it in the Lower 48. She cannot do it in Alaska .... All I know is that she is going to continue to fire-up people in the conservative Republican base as often as she speaks to ‘em."[27]

Cost to taxpayers

According to the Anchorage Daily News, "Early estimates put the cost of Sarah Palin's midterm resignation as Alaska governor at a minimum of $40,000, not including a special legislative session partly linked to her departure. ... The final price tag will be a mere fraction of the roughly $2 million Palin has said it cost the state dealing with "frivolous" ethics complaints against her."[28] Information on the cost of the resignation was obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request.[28]

Changes to Alaska's ethics rules

On December 22, 2010, new rules governing Alaska executive branch ethics, stemming from Sarah Palin's tenure as governor, took effect:[29]

"These include allowing for the state to pay legal costs for officials cleared of ethics violations; allowing for a family member of the governor or lieutenant governor to travel at state cost in certain circumstances and allowing an immediate family member to use an official's state-issued cell phone or BlackBerry if the usage is limited or under monthly or unlimited plans."[29]

The Alaska attorney general clarified several ethics rules, including those related to family travel.[29]


  1. ^ "Palin stepping down this month". CNN. July 3, 2009. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  2. ^ a b Cockerham, Sean (July 7, 2009). "Palin says ethics investigations were paralyzing, Interview: Governor says she resigned because of frivolous complaints". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c "Palin's Reasons for Stepping Down". Washington Post. July 3, 2009. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  4. ^ Snow, Kate (July 6, 2009). "Offers Pouring In For Sarah Palin". ABC News. Retrieved March 26, 2010.
  5. ^ AP Staff. "Google hosted news". Associated Press.[dead link]
  6. ^ a b c Cockerham, Sean (July 8, 2009). "Palin defends 'millions' ethics price claim, Tally: Record requests, ethics complaints, lawsuits, troopergate given price tag". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
  7. ^ Martin, Jonathan (July 26, 2009). "Sarah Palin resigns, blasts press, 'starlets'". Politico. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  8. ^ "Palin At The Top – And Bottom – for GOP Voters in 2012". Rasmussen Reports. July 7, 2009. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  9. ^ Page, Susan (July 8, 2009). "Poll: Palin's support still strong among GOP". USA Today. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  10. ^ Hechtkopf, Kevin (July 13, 2009). "Poll: If She Runs, Palin Faces Doubts from Public". CBS.;contentBody. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  11. ^ "Poll:Republicans Pick Romney Over Palin in Gallup Poll". Newsweek. July 16, 2009. Retrieved January 31, 2010.
  12. ^ a b Meyer, Josh (July 5, 2009). "Sarah Palin not under FBI investigation, agency spokesman says". Los Angeles Times.,0,7018263.story. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  13. ^ a b Cockerham, Sean (July 4, 2009). "Palin attorney blasts investigation rumors". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  14. ^ Spillius, Alex (July 5, 2009). "Sarah Palin threatens legal action over resignation rumours". Telegraph UK. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  15. ^ Cockerham, Sean (July 3, 2009). "Palin's resignation shocks Alaska, nation". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  16. ^ Rosen, Yereth (July 3, 2009). "Update 6-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to resign in surprise move". Reuters. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  17. ^ Hooper, Molly K. (July 6, 2009). "GOP Rep. King doubts Palin can come back". The Hill.[dead link]
  18. ^ Heather (July 11, 2009). "Jesse Ventura on Palin: I Would Never Vote for Her Because if it Gets Too Hot in the Kitchen, She's Liable to Quit" (VIDEO). Video Cafe. Crooks and Liars. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  19. ^ "Jesse Ventura, former Minnesota governor, weighs in on Sonia Sotomayor, Sen. Al Franken, and Sarah Palin's resignation" (VIDEO). Larry King Live. CNN. July 16, 2009. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  20. ^ Crile, Susan (July 16, 2009). "Ventura: Palin Would Never Make It As A Navy SEAL". Huffington Post. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  21. ^ Alfano, Sean (July 26, 2009). "President Palin "Impossible"". Political Hotsheet. CBS News. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  22. ^ Interview with Ann Coulter and David Frum (July 27, 2009). "President Palin "Impossible"" (Video). The Early Show (CBS News). Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  23. ^ Lowry, Rich (July 6, 2009). "Palin Today". The Corner (National Review). Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  24. ^ Douthat, Ross (July 5, 2009). "Palin And Her Enemies". Opinion (The New York Times). Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  25. ^ Hamby, Peter; John King, Mark Preston, Kristi Keck and Alan Silverleib (July 4, 2009). "Palin stepping down this month". CNN. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  26. ^ Kristol, Bill (July 3, 2009). "A Contrarian Take". The Blog. Weekly Standard. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  27. ^ Limbaugh, Rush (July 5, 2009). "Rush Limbaugh Comments on Sarah Palin's Resignation". Transcript. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  28. ^ a b D'oro, Rachel (September 4, 2009). "Palin resignation costs Alaska at least $40,000, Price Tag: Expenses put tally at minimum of $40,000, not including special session". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved February 25, 2012.
  29. ^ a b c New ethics rules in Alaska to take effect Dec. 22 Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (AP), Dec 07, 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-30.

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