Politics & Policy

Palin Attacks Murkowski for Silencing Free Speech

Former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin wrote a Facebook note last night that slammed Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s campaign for the cancellation of Alaska radio host Dan Fagan’s show yesterday afternoon.

Fagan, who is credited for helping increase the number of write-in senate candidates to about 150 by urging listeners to file the paperwork to become write-in candidates, was accused of participating in “electioneering,” by former broadcaster John Tracy. Tracy, who now runs an advertising and public relations company that has been hired to make commercials for the Murkowski campaign, told the Anchorage Daily News that Fagan “crossed a line from being inflammatory to doing something that actually tries to manipulate an election.”

Tracy said that he had called the Murkowski campaign before calling Dennis Bookey, the general manager of the media group that manages Fagan’s station, to complain about Fagan. The Murkowski campaign did not object to his decision.

Fagan was told yesterday at lunch that he would not be allowed to go on air for his usual 2 – 5 p.m. program.

Fagan defended his decision to the Anchorage Daily News. “Some people might criticize throwing tea in the Boston harbor and some people might criticize having all these people register as a write-in candidate. But when the government acts illegally, you have to stand up to it,” he said.

“How low will she [Murkowski]  go to hold onto power?” asked Palin in her note. “First, she gets the Division of Elections to change its write-in process  — a process that Judge Pfiffner correctly determined had been in place without change for 50 years,” a reference to the state supreme court ruling agreeing (overruling a lower court decision made by Judge Frank Pfiffner) that voters who request it can be given a list of write-in candidates at polling sites.

“She is accepting financial support from federal contractors, an act that is highly questionable and now pending before the FEC,” Palin continued, referring to the Alaskan Native Corporations (who have all received extensive federal contracts) funding Alaskans Standing Together group running ads supporting Murkowski, although they have no direct cooperation with her campaign. The Miller campaign filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission earlier this month, arguing that it was illegal for federal contractors to try to influence federal elections. 

“And today, she played her last card,” said Palin. “She made it clear that if you disagree with her and encourage others to exercise their civic rights, she’ll take you off the air.”

“Individuals like Dan Fagan have a fundamental right to speak their minds without threats from the incumbent Senator from Alaska,” wrote Palin. “Dan Fagan has not always agreed with me, but I will gladly defend his right to speak freely on his radio show, which he has often used to criticize me. … But when I was his governor, I never would have dreamed of threatening his right to free speech.”

The Murkowski campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Katrina TrinkoKatrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

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