October 11, 2008

Shadow Governor

Todd Slope1

In the Palin administration, Todd appears to have had an unusually strong role, the extent of which remains unclear. He is not on the state payroll and was never elected — but the First Dude has crossed over from the standard-issue supportive political spouse to something far more influential, weighing in on policy and political matters in ways that few observers seem to understand. His apparent influence in his wife’s administration — some in Alaska have referred to him as the “shadow governor” — has raised questions about whether a Sarah Palin vice-presidency would hand the same type of backstage power to Todd, and what that might mean in the running of the U.S. government.  –from: Sarah Palin’s powerful “First Dude” (Salon)

Recently, I was clicking through WAPO’s slideshow of the day and found two shots of Todd Palin dated April ’07.  The first, the one above, showed Palin meeting with the Arctic Slope Regional Corp. training coordinator to discuss the organization’s labor development programs in Anchorage.  The second photo — which I’ve been unable to locate again — showed Todd meeting with the Alaska International Brotherhood of Electoral Workers statewide training coordinator to discuss that union’s training programs. 

On the surface, this activity would seem fairly benign.  His Wikipedia says Todd Palin “advises the Governor on workforce development issues.”  In early May, The LAT related how “Palin has been asked to champion … young Alaskans toward jobs in the oil and gas industry.”  Sarah Palin related Todd’s agenda as “… passing information on to me and participating in getting workforce development programs up and running in Alaska.”

In reality, however, the First Spouse’s supposedly nominal role in his wife’s administration has been contradicted by the facts.  Todd’s training agenda was expansive enough, for example, that a couple of mining companies interested in digging in Alaska flew him around the state in late ’07, the cost of which the first couple expensed as gifts.  And of course, the “Troopergate” report released Friday detailed how Palin spent more than 50% of his time in the Governor’s office, had his hands almost everything, and one the labor issue specifically, was privy to emails dealing with the state’s union matters.

There are innumerable images of husband, and snowmobiler, and fisherman Todd floating around the web.  Curiously though, there are precious few pictures capturing “First Dude” functioning as a self-assumed agent of the state and the governor’s office.  Well, here’s at least one.

(image: Al Grillo/AP. Alaska. April 2007)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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