The Press Club has announced a special recognition of Anne Kilkenny for her citizen involvement in providing information during the 2008 presidential election campaign on vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Kilkenny wrote an email to friends answering basic questions about Palin; her email rapidly went viral in a climate that was hungry for information about this suddenly emerging Republican VP candidate.
For those wishing to refresh their memories on Anne's original email, you can still find it on the Anchorage Daily News site here.
In addition, below is a later FAQ that Anne provided, threaded with many additional links to information about Sarah Palin.
November 5, 2008
Thank you for emailing me with your thoughts and questions about Sarah Palin. I have received over 14,200 emails in response to my email of 8/31 which "went viral"!
I apologize for the hideous length of this "FAQ" email. If I don't address one of your questions it is because I don't know the answer. (I do not open attachments, as some have attempted to send me viruses, so I cannot comment on anything in your attachment.)
I know Sarah Palin in her public roles, not socially, so I don't know about--and am unwilling to research—personal, family, and church issues; I suggest that you buy the National Enquirer if those issues are of interest and importance to you.
I had already been a college graduate for over a decade when Palin was point guard on the Wasilla High basketball team; we didn't go to school together. My husband's youngest sister was one of her classmates, however.
Who are you?
I am a real person, part of the Kilkenny Family of northern California, who has lived in Wasilla, Alaska, since 1981. Wasilla is about 45 miles from Anchorage, on the road to Fairbanks. And, yes, if you've taken the train to Denali or driven from Anchorage to Fairbanks, you've been through Wasilla.
Since the beginning of September you might have seen clips of me on NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams, the Today Show, and Good Morning, America. You also might have heard me on NPR, Pacific Radio, and several satellite radio programs. All of these organizations approached me, thanks to those of you who forwarded my email to them.
I am the writer of an email dated August 31, 2008, about Sarah Palin that went “viral." SOME PEOPLE HAVE RECEIVED A DISTORTED, EDITED VERSION OF THIS EMAIL, and there was no photo attached to my email. I urge you to go to the website listed below to see what I actually wrote (with an Addendum I wrote on Sept 9th) and confirmation that I am who I say I am. (My original email and addendum are also included at the end of this email.)
_ HYPERLINK http://community.adn.com/adn/node/130537
On Sept 4th, I asked the Anchorage Daily News if they would post on their website my original email. I asked them to do this for several reasons:
1) They are the largest newspaper in Alaska;
2) They are not aligned with either party;
3) I was being told that people were changing what I wrote; and
4) Importantly--they know me. When I go to City Council meetings there is always a reporter from the Anchorage Daily News there; they can verify that I am a resident of Wasilla and frequently to go City Council and other meetings.
If you go to Snopes.com you will see that they have updated their report and apologized to me.
I HAVE NEVER BLOGGED. I DO NOT HAVE A WEBSITE. If you find other things with my name attached, it is campaign dirty tricks. I've also just been informed that if you click on some google links in my name some disgusting, dirty material is automatically downloaded. I have NOTHING to do with this garbage!
I am NOT working for either campaign; however, by now I assume they both are aware of my email as many of you have told me that you have forwarded it to them. I am not a spokesperson for any group. Nobody connected with either campaign suggested that I write my email, nobody has paid me, and nobody has asked me to stop answering my email. Sitting next to my keyboard as I type, however, is the most beautiful bouquet of flowers which were sent to me by a total stranger in Connecticut in appreciation for the time I put into writing it!
I always vote. My commitment to my family has precluded me from running for office until my family is grown.
How and why did you write your email?
My piece about Sarah Palin evolved over a three-day period in response to questions I got from friends and relatives who live outside Alaska. By the afternoon of the third day I was getting replies from friends of friends of friends—in other words, people who didn't know me—and they were asking, "Who are you?" and "Why did you write this?" So I added sections to my email to address those questions and then sent it out to about 30 people on my email list with whom I had not yet communicated. Within a couple of hours, somebody posted against my wishes this version of my email on a website. From there, it was posted on numerous other websites.
I had no idea it would "go viral." For years, I had drafted PTA newsletters that went electronically to hundreds of people, and they never went viral! In fact, I have reason to believe most of the time they weren't even read! Ha!
What has been the feedback from people who just received your email randomly, and in Wasilla?
When I wrote my email I asked that it not be posted because I thought there were a lot of kooks out there. Yes, there are kooks, but they are vastly outnumbered by wonderful people. America is full of unsung heroes, people who have made huge sacrifices for the common good: I know, because many of them have sent me their stories. I doubt that anything I'll ever write will ever be read by so many, but if that should happen, I will not fear it.
On September 30, 2008, there was a story in the LA Times about all the email I have received; that story gave the IN-accurate impression that I have been inundated by "hate" mail. (I should have suspected that a distorted story was being concocted when the reporter only wanted to see the nasty emails that I had received.) The vast majority (92 percent) of people who reply to my email tell me that it helped them decide whom to vote for.
Here, in Wasilla, many people have thanked me for providing them with answers that they could give to the many inquiries that they are getting from friends and relatives in the Lower 48. There have been awkward moments, but no one has been nasty.
Critics of my email who like and agree with Sarah Palin have not been able to identify a single compliment that I failed to give her. Critics of my email who dislike and disagree with Sarah Palin have mentioned to me many negative and critical things that I either didn't know about or considered not important enough to mention.
I do not know the writers of other widely distributed emails about Palin; none of the writers of the emails I've seen went to City Council meetings regularly.
What do people say about you in your town?
People in Wasilla say that I have long been an active and involved citizen who does her homework. Some people in positions of authority who don't like to have anyone questioning them would say I can be a pain. One of Palin's best friends calls me a "nut case."
Would you say that you dislike Palin, or respect her?
I have tremendous respect for Sarah Palin—for what she has accomplished, for her political skills, for her energy, her time management skills, her speaking ability--there's lots to admire!
There is a difference between disliking and disagreeing.
I don't agree with Palin on social issues and political philosophy because I am a fiscal conservative and social liberal.
Some people have picked up on my irritation, but most are mistaken as to its cause. I am very frustrated about the incessant "spin" and "image control" that permeates campaigns. What gets me is when people claim to be—or are portrayed as—something that they aren't!
What would happen if you ran into Palin in the street?
Sarah and I always had friendly social conversation. I don't know what would happen if I ran into Sarah Palin on the street now because it appears that running for VP has changed her. She is being "handled" now. For my part, I would apologize for my use of the word "hate.” (See my addendum to my email for an explanation of this.)
How do you know anything?
I have been a Wasilla resident since 1981. In 1996-97, during Palin's first year as Mayor, I went to many City Council meetings because I was the author of a new chapter in the City of Wasilla Municipal Code, and it took about a year to shepherd this new code through the City Council. (It passed unanimously). Prior to and after that, I went to meetings sporadically: when there was something on the agenda of interest to me and around election time.
Can you verify the truth of what you wrote?
Your request for facts to check is appropriate and fair. I have been interviewed by many (three dozen???) newspapers, and NBC, CBS, ABC and CNN (but not FOX yet). I have supplied them with all the names of the individuals involved in each of the situations I describe so they could fact-check what I wrote. I suggest that you go to the following sites to check out what the mainstream media has reported. (I am so impressed with the reporters I've met; they are literally working around the clock to get to get up to speed and to prove/disprove the things I wrote about.)
I have become aware of some factual, grammatical, and personal errors in my email which I have shared with several fact-checking websites. You be the judge if these errors are substantial and significant. These errors are addressed below and in the addendum to my email which is posted on the Anchorage Daily News website referenced above and is included below.
THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE WRITE UP OF SARAH PALIN is in Wikipedia at:
_ HYPERLINK http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Palin
I've read many Palin biographies since she was named, and this is one of the most complete, but it is rather lengthy:
_ HYPERLINK http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/oct/10/uselections2008-sarahpalin1
A shorter story dense with facts and information about Sarah Palin's first six months as Mayor can be found at:
_ HYPERLINK http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/politics/2008163431_palin070.html
Another story about her mayorship can be found at:
_ HYPERLINK http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/09/17/palin_mayor/
A more comprehensive look at her terms as Wasilla's Mayor and her 20 months as governor can be found in a NY Times story that appeared 9/14/08, and can be accessed at the website below:
_ HYPERLINK http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/14/us/politics/14palin.html?_r=1&hp=&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print&adxnnlx=1221415398-aXQkakmNv2hz9SVPQ1KEuw
This is a fact checking site that covers many Palin topics of interest:
_ HYPERLINK http://www.samefacts.com/archives/campaign_2008_/2008/09/palin_v_reality.php
To read what Sarah Palin has said on various hot topics, you can go to
_ HYPERLINK http://www.ontheissues.org/sarah_Palin.htm#Immigration
I'm sorry, but I cannot validate any of the many other quotes that have been attributed to Palin that people have asked me about.
Politifact and Factcheck have checked out my revenue and expense numbers for the City of Wasilla. You'd think that numbers would be the easiest thing to check: NOT! I said general government expenditures rose 33%, Politifact says 55% and Factcheck says 23%. I said tax revenues increased 38%, Politifact said 43% and Factcheck said 29%. You can check out their reports for yourself at:
_ HYPERLINK http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/705/
_ HYPERLINK http://www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/what_about_that_anne_kilkenny_e-mail.html
ABOUT THE LIBRARY BOOK BANNING ISSUE. . . .
Below is a link to a segment from Good Morning, America on Sept. 10, 2008, which
covers the attempted book banning and attempted firing of the librarian.
It is accurate to the best of my knowledge; however, I can't confirm or deny that the named books were the target(s).
_ HYPERLINK http://www.acakadut.com/videos/v-VcdqcXZ1jqU/Ross-on-Palin-ABC-09-10-09.html
Did the Mayor ask the Librarian about removing books from the Wasilla Public Library?
Yes. Members of Palin's church had been pushing for the removal of some books for sale at bookstores, were checking books out of the library and not returning them to remove them from circulation, and were redacting sections of books that they found offensive. I was a witness to one of the occasions on which Mayor Palin asked the Librarian about removing books from the collection. My recollection was that Mayor Palin stated that there were books in the library that shouldn't be there, and she asked the Librarian what the procedure was for removing books from the collection.
Stories in the Anchorage Daily News & Frontiersman newspapers report that Mayor Palin asked such a question. Snopes reports that the McCain campaign also acknowledges that she did this.
Was there a list of books?
Not as far as I know. I've always said I didn't know of any, Gov Palin says there was no list, and the list in circulation looks bogus because some of the books on it weren't even published at that time. In recent weeks, many people I respect have come forward to say that the members of Palin's church who were pushing book banning were focused on books about homosexuality; I find this believable, but cannot confirm it.
Were any books removed from the Library?
No. Not as far as I know. The City also says books were never removed. If you read carefully what I wrote, you will see that I said that she "attempted" to censor the collection, not that she actually was able to.
What does Palin say?
Conflicting things. At the time that all this happened, Palin acknowledged to both of the local newspapers that she had asked the librarian about removing books from the library; she said that her questions were "rhetorical". After she was named the VP candidate, the campaign acknowledged that Palin had asked about removing books. However, ABC News broadcast video of her telling Charles Gibson that all of this was an "old wives tale" and on 10/24 she told Brian Williams, " . . .my alleged attempts to censor books: of course, that never happened."
What remains in dispute?
Mayor Palin's motives for discussing censorship of the library collection remain in dispute. Palin claims her questions were rhetorical. Her question sure didn't sound rhetorical to me!
A rhetorical question elicits an explanation in response, and after an explanation is received the question doesn't need to be asked again, but this question was, by Palin's admission, asked more than once. A challenge elicits a defense; the librarian responded defensively. Now, too, it seems that Palin disputes that she ever asked the librarian about removing books from the collection.
Palin also says that the community reaction to her attempt to fire the Librarian had nothing to do with the fact that she fired the Librarian one day and rehired her the next.
What about Palin's approval rating?
The reason for Palin's past high approval ratings in Alaska and her ability to draw people to campaign rallies are similar. Governor Palin is a very attractive, warm person, with lots of charisma. People who have met her on the campaign trail or know her only socially generally like her. It is in her official roles that she becomes the pit bull in lipstick.
Few people have the time to observe government in action. She used to work at the largest TV station; media coverage here had been pretty complimentary prior to her announcement as McCain's running mate. It was thanks to reporters from outside that we learned how she claimed per diem while living in her own home because she didn't want to live in the governor's mansion.
Local polsters are predicting that her approval rating in Alaska will be below 50% by the election if current trends continue. Recent news that she uses personal BlackBerries for transacting state business so she won't have to supply copies of her emails has many questioning her claim to "open and transparent" decision-making and governing. Her claim that she was "vindicated" in the Troopergate report (see below) has people questioning her intelligence and/or veracity. Her approval rating has dropped 20 points since 9/2, to 62%, and even in Wasilla there is widespread disenchantment about her.
What do other Alaskans say?
A pro-Palin story by an Alaskan can be found at:
_ HYPERLINK http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/bl_deb_frost_on_palin.htm
This link is to a story by an Alaskan who is not a Palin fan:
_ HYPERLINK http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2008/10/11/sarah_palin_alaska/print.html
On Sept 13, 2008, pro- and anti-Palin rallies were held in Anchorage and the anti-Palin rally was the larger; some say this is because there had been many pro-Palin rallies already.
Reporters tell me that they are having a very hard time finding anyone in
Wasilla who will speak on record in support of Palin: this is the exact opposite of how it was here 3 weeks ago. The following story may shed light on why this is so.
_ HYPERLINK http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-na-troopergate21-2008sep21,0,829160.story
What about aerial wolf-hunting in Alaska?
I personally oppose aerial hunting for sport. The recent aerial wolf hunting issue on the ballot was not about sport hunting. It was about whether or not only State Fish & Game employees would be allowed to shoot wolves from planes when there are emergencies and packs of wolves are roaming through villages, threatening kids and eating alive family pets while they are chained, or when there is the danger people will be unable to find adequate meat due to excessive wolf preditation.
It is hard for people who have not been to Alaska to grasp how remote and inaccessible many of our small villages are; aerial hunting is the only practical way to address such emergencies in the bush. This was NOT a hunting issue; it was a prey management issue. I think it highly unlikely that Palin has participated in any aerial predator management hunts.
What about Palin’s funding for students with special needs?
It is true that the Alaska State Legislature increased funding for Special Needs education this year; this was on the recommendation of a special education task force that Palin set up. When Palin took office in 2006, the state was spending about $27,000 a year per child. The budget she signed this year raised that funding to about $49,000 per child. In three years, the amount will rise to about $74,000, which is roughly equal to the yearly per-child cost of educating special needs children.
So, yes, there was an increase; however, since the increase in funding for educating students with special needs doesn't yet cover the cost, there will be no improvement in services. And, given the inflation we are seeing, by the time the amount of funding covers the current cost, the cost will be higher! (The deficit in funding is made up by shifting funds for general education to special needs education.)
Since having declared herself an advocate for children with special needs, I expect Palin will start taking a leading role in improving services and funding.
The reduction in the Wasilla property tax rate didn't reduce education funding. School funding is the responsibility of the State Legislature. The Borough (county) contributes about 25% from BOROUGH property taxes. City property taxes pay for city government and services, not schools.
What about charging rape victims for tests?
Yes, during Palin's mayorship it was the policy of the City of Wasilla to have rape victim's insurance pay for their rape tests. When this was brought to the attention of a member of the State Legislature, he authored legislation, which was passed, making this practice illegal. At that time, the media reported that Palin's Police Chief fought this legislation, saying it would cost the City $4,000 to $15,000 to pay for rape tests.
I don't know why Police Chief Fannon said it would cost $4,000 to $15,000 unless he had already billed women that much; however, the City is saying that it can't find any evidence anyone was ever charged. (Unfortunately, former Police Chief Fannon is not answering questions.) Mayor Palin reviewed all department budgets line by line; I find it hard to believe that Palin wasn't aware of this issue, especially when Cheif Fannon was being quoted in the press about it.
I find it amusing that campaign operatives who couldn't even have found Wasilla on a map a not long ago now profess to know all about what was going on here during Palin's mayorship up to 12 years ago!
This is a link to a video on the rape kits issue:
_ HYPERLINK http://www.wasillaproject.com/
Why do Alaskans favor drilling in the pristine areas of Alaska?
Like most Alaskans, Sarah Palin accepts the necessity of drilling in ANWR.
Let's put drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) into perspective. If Alaska was superimposed over the lower 48 states, the Aleutian chain would extend west into the Pacific Ocean beyond San Diego, the southeastern panhandle would be in northern Florida, and I'd be somewhere in the midwest. So, do I object to drilling in northern Minnesota? No. Put this way, do you?
Do I want the drilling pad to be kept as small as possible? YES! Prudhoe Bay IS ugly: very, very ugly! But what's our choice? The reality is that drilling isn't pretty, but we need oil. Where else are we going to get oil? Shall we pay through the nose to get it from foreigners?
The Anchorage Daily News characterizes Palin as "a very pale shade of green." Some say that the only thing green about her is her lack of experience.
What about Wasilla’s Multi-use Sports Complex?
Mayor Palin has taken credit for having built the Wasilla Multi-use Sports Complex, so it seems to me that she should take the responsibility for its costs. When Palin ran for Mayor part of her platform was infrastructure improvements and small government. The Mayor controls the agenda of the City Council. She put bonding for a sports complex on the agenda and she encouraged the Council to pass it so that the voters could vote on it.
She did this knowing that passage of these bonds would make it impossible for the City to bond for any other project (like the sewage treatment plant) for many years. The bonds and increase in sales tax passed with a margin of under 20 votes. Palin then directed the construction of this complex before clear title to the land had been obtained; settling the title issue has cost us about $1.3 million so far.
How would you characterize Palin in one sentence?
I consider Palin a very successful, extremely attractive and charismatic social conservative who has campaigned on—or put aside—her core values as was politically expedient and who has overseen expanded government and budgets that were financed with tax increases, borrowing and earmark appropriations.
Other various questions
•Yes, Palin received $17,000 "per diem" for living in her house rather
than in the Governor's mansion. This was legal.
•Yes, the AP reports that the taxpayers of Alaska paid over $21,000 for travel expenses to send the Palin children to events.
•Wasilla has a strong mayor form of government; the mayor is full-time and
is paid $75k (now, $64-68 then), significantly more than the local average
income. The Administrator Mayor Palin hired to run Wasilla (pop. 4,800-5,400)
was also full-time and paid well by local standards ($50k).
•In 2006, Palin won 114,697 (48.33%) to 97,238 (40.07%) for governor in a three-way race.
•I've been repeatedly asked if I could verify the accuracy of a racist, sexist comment that is being attributed to Palin. I cannot either confirm or deny that she made this crude comment.
•Her husband (Todd Palin) was a member of the Alaskan Independence Party (not Sarah); she did attend the AIP convention in 1994. AIP party officials have retracted their statement that Palin was a member at one time.
•Yes, Palin’s husband is part Alaska Native (Yup'ik Eskimo)
•Palin’s children attend public schools. Wasilla High's enrollment is approaching 1,300.
•According to Wikipedia, Sarah Palin attended four colleges and took five yrs to complete a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication-Journalism in 1987. For more info on her college years go to:
_ HYPERLINK http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2008/09/05/palin_well_traveled_during_her_college_years/
•Yes, the Palins were members, until 2002, of the evangelical and non-denominational Wasilla Assembly of God church, where some speak in tongues. This church was the largest church in the area at the time and among the most politically involved; however, it was/is not a part of any of the local church-sponsored organizations (Food Bank, Valley Christian Coalition, Family Promise, etc.). Now she attends the non-denominational evangelical, though not Pentecostal or charismatic, Wasilla Bible Church.
While in Juneau, Palin attends an Assemblies of God church. More information about her church affiliations can be found at:
_ HYPERLINK http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122048406528596987.html?mod=special_page_campaign2008_leftbox
•No, the photo of Sarah in a bikini with a rifle is not real; it was a photoshop job.
•She said "no thanks" to the "Bridge to Nowhere" only after Congress had abandoned it and had agreed to let Alaska keep the $223 million anyway. The money went into the State's transportation budget pot.
•The deal with the jet is that Palin TRIED to sell it on ebay, but it didn't sell, so she sold it through a broker, at a loss.
•Yes, I did use KidsVoting one year (1996), but after that developed a more specialized and localized program which also covered local and state offices and was based on Alaska Voter Registration documents and used actual sample ballots.
•It's true: the man she blew the whistle on when she chaired the Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, Randy Ruedrick, is STILL the state chair of the Alaska Republican Party. No party reforms have been made.
•It was the FBI that brought indictments against Alaska’s corrupt legislators; Palin had no role in this whatsoever.
•The ethics legislation which was passed was championed by a bipartisan coalition led by the State Senate President, Lyda Green, a Republican and an early mentor of Palin with whom Palin now spars and has sought to unseat.
Troopergate is about an abuse of power and violation of Alaska's ethics law. This spring Palin fired Alaska's top cop, Walt Monegan. He served at her pleasure and she had every legal right to fire him. An independent legislative investigator, however, determined that prior to the firing, Palin, her husband, and members of her staff abused their power by pressuring Monegan to fire Palin's sister's ex-husband, a State Trooper.
The report says that Palin "knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda," that she violated the ethics law, and abused her power. The independent investigator's report was released by the Legislative Council of eight Republicans and four Democrats. A review of the investigator's report can be found at:
_ HYPERLINK http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/11/us/politics/11trooper.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin
Had Palin initiated reforms, rather than attacked one rogue trooper, there would have been no "Troopergate." A piece about what Palin could have done—but didn't—to reform the troopers can be found at:
_ HYPERLINK http://www.adn.com/opinion/comment/story/560649.html
My errors and omissions (Factcheck identified these AFTER I reported them.)
•Contrary to some reports, Palin did not endorse ANY of the candidates in the race for Mayor of Wasilla after she was term-limited out. I should have identified Faye Palin (one of the candidates) as Sarah Palin's STEP mother-in-law.
•Laura Chase, Palin's campaign manager when Palin first ran for mayor, has convinced me that Palin had intended from the outset to hire an Administrator and was not "pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers", as I stated.
Yes, you may forward my email to your friends and others who you think might be interested in its contents; thank you so much for asking! PLEASE DO NOT CHANGE IT OR EDIT IT IN ANY WAY, and that also means please DO NOT remove my name and email address!
If you want something shorter, write your own white paper and put YOUR name on it.
This may seem strange, but I'd rather you plagiarized me than quoted me out of context.
I remain very conflicted about giving permission to post my email on a website. I don't have time to check out all the blogs and websites that have requested permission to post it. Yet, I don't want to penalize the considerate and conscientious people who ask when so many (800+ I'm told) have not.
So, I am not going to give permission, but I am also not going to do anything if someone posts it without my permission. How you introduce what you post will influence how it is read. I tried to write a balanced piece; I hope you will respect that intent. I would prefer that you post the Addendum as well if you chose to post my original email.
I hope that I have adequately answered your questions and been a help to you in deciding which ticket you want to vote for. In this imperfect world there are no perfect candidates--unless one wants to run for office oneself!
Bottom-line is: Is Sarah Palin the person you want second in line for the presidency and able to handle our present financial crisis and two wars, if necessary?
I encourage you to get involved in the campaign of whichever candidate you support. The best decisions are made when people are informed and everyone participates. Hope lives so long as good people don't give up doing what they can to make this a better world. As someone who emailed me said, "It takes each of us to make a difference for all of us."
November 5, 2008