Senior Palin aide Resigns – Will Palin Go Adrift?



By Chris Cillizza

Meghan Stapleton, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's most prominent political adviser, is resigning her post to spend more time with her family, she said today.
"I just wasn't doing a good job balancing" work and home life, said Stapleton in a interview this afternoon. "This isn't a reflection on [Palin] at all."

Stapleton said that the former governor wasn't surprised about the resignation; "She knew that I was struggling with this decision for quite a while," said Stapleton. She added that talk that Palin would be adrift politically without her is overblown. "She is who she is," Stapleton said of the 2008 vice presidential nominee. "She makes a lot of decisions herself." The news of Stapleton's departure was first reported by Politico.

With Stapleton, who was one of the few Palin aides that stayed with the former governor through the twists and turns of the past several years, no longer actively involved in the political operation, the group of those advising the once — and perhaps future — national candidate is decidedly low profile.

In conversations with those intimately familiar with the Palin orbit, they say that she relies on a very small group of people to advise her — most of whom (although not all) are on the payroll of Sarah PAC, her leadership political action committee.

Here's a look at the Palin inner circle (minus Stapleton):

* Jason Recher: Recher did advance work for the Bush White House for nearly a decade before signing on with Palin's vice presidential bid. He travels extensively with Palin.

* Doug McMarlin: McMarlin is a partner at GreyShockley, an Ohio-based consulting firm, and did advance work for the McCain campaign in 2008. He along with Jason Recher travel with Palin on trips. McMarlin is expected to take on a broadened role — particularly in dealing with the press — following Stapleton's departure.

* Kim Daniels: A conservative attorney, Daniels is serving as Palin's lead domestic policy adviser.

* Randy Schuenemann: Schuenemann, who served as a foreign policy adviser to McCain during the 2008 campaign, plays the same role for Palin. He also did stints as a foreign policy adviser to Sens. Trent Lott (Miss.) and Bob Dole (Kans.). Schuenemann is perhaps best known for his public advocacy for the invasion of Iraq during the early part of the last decade.

* Fred Malek: Malek, the finance chairman of McCain's 2008 effort, has emerged as the leading Palin backer within establishment Republican circles in Washington. Unlike many in the chattering class who claim to have Palin's ear, Malek actually does.

* Rebecca Mansour: Mansour, is one of the founders of — a website dedicated to unceasing advocacy of the former governor. She was hired last fall as an adviser to Palin's Sarah PAC.

* Tim Crawford: Crawford is the treasurer of Sarah PAC and a former finance director of the Republican National Committee — a job from which he resigned abruptly last year at this time.


From Geoffrey Dunn


In what was a truly disgusting bit of reporting today in Politico, news puppy Andy Barr, a shameless apologist for Palin these past 16 months, confirmed the rumor that Stapleton, Palin's longtime "spokesperson" and political assassin, was departing her $96,000-a-year position as a consultant to SarahPAC, though Barr never managed to set any of the significant facts in place.

Instead, Barr spun it exactly as Stapleton wanted it woven–as a move "to spend more time with her husband and 2-year-old daughter, Isabella."

Perhaps you'd also like to buy some land from young Andy in Florida.

Barr's most recent suck-up to Stapleton came earlier this month when Stapleton used Barr to distance Palin from her criticism of Rush Limbaugh for his use of the word "retard." It was a barefaced bit of duplicity and perfectly reflective of the Palin-Stapleton spin machine.

There have been reports of trouble brewing in Palin's inner-circle for a while–of near breakdowns and dramatic outbursts–as the arrival of more paid political hacks from outside Alaska has created furious infighting for Palin's favors.

Ironically, Barr's lone source for his story (other than Stapleton herself) was the Palin sycophant Fred Malek who has apparently found new life and some pep in his step as a source for everything Palin. Indeed, last summer when I interviewed Malek (Richard Nixon's notorious Jew counter) at his retreat in Aspen, he confirmed for me that "bad blood" between Stapleton and GOP fundraiser Becki Donatelli of the Washington D.C.-based Campaign Solutions was what led to Donatelli breaking off her relationship with the Palin operation. Or as Vanity Fair's Todd Purdum put it: Donatelli "couldn't stand" Stapleton.

Stapleton was also anathema to the McCain campaign–one of whose senior operatives described her to me as "incompetent and a bad person."

"Stapleton's legacy in Alaska will not be her years as a trusted news anchor," Muckraker told me today, "but rather how quickly she sold out to become the weapon of choice for eviscerating Palin's perceived political foes in the state of Alaska. Alaska is a 'small town' and her reputation is forever tarnished here."

Stapleton's most notorious moment came during the 2008 presidential election, when serving as an attack dog for Palin's so-called Truth Squad in Alaska, she engaged in a nasty videotaped confrontation with well-liked Alaska legislators. If there were an Emmy awarded for smarm and sleaze, Stapleton would have won in a landslide.

Stapleton's media instincts were, at worse, infantile and at, best, destructive. She frequently managed to turn a Palin gaffe from what should have been a one-day blip into a 72-hour-news sensation.

Last summer, while I was in Anchorage, Palin and Stapleton became involved in what seemed to be a never-ending series of controversies about whether or not Palin would be appearing at an event–this time a planned appearance at the Anchorage mega-church ChangePoint. Members of the church assured me that representatives of the former governor had confirmed her appearance. In essence, Stapleton called the church leadership liars. One member of the ChangePoint community was irate about Stapleton's response.

It's hard to reconcile Sarah's and Meg's so-called Christian values, when they keep lying about things like this. I can only think that one of two things is going on. Either she [Palin] is flat-out crazy. Maybe something like a breakdown. Or she has become so arrogant, so above it all, that she feels she can treat people this way.

Stapleton fueled Palin's furies. One other longtime Palin confidante who worked shoulder-to -shoulder with Stapleton described her as "power hungry":

Meghan did more damage in this world than most people will ever know. She rose to her position by throwing everyone around Sarah under the bus, never being a team player, always sucking up and telling Sarah only what she wanted to hear.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sjohnson
    Feb 25, 2010 @ 04:00:00

    Wow!! Wait! I need more popcorn. This beats Avatar in 3D!!


  2. indy_girl
    Feb 25, 2010 @ 17:30:00

    I think there were a couple of typos in the quotes from meg.


  3. indy_girl
    Feb 25, 2010 @ 17:31:00

    Corrected copy:

    Stapleton… added that talk that Palin would be adrift politically without her is overblown. "She is who she is…..which is a pathological liar, ignoramus, and Olympic-level bitch," Stapleton said of the 2008 vice presidential nominee. "She makes a lot of decisions herself, then expects everyone else to follow behind and clean up the train wreckage she leaves behind."


  4. Syrin from Wasilla
    Feb 25, 2010 @ 20:31:00

    Welcome indy_girl…Thanks for the corrected version. That is Sarah's true self


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