Robert Gibbs dismissed the idea that incoming Obama administration chief of staff Pete Rouse was involved in the smear campaign against Sarah Palin during the 2008 presidential campaign. Here's the exchange with the press secretary and Jake Tapper of ABC:
TAPPER: OK. And Governor Palin, former Governor Palin has insinuated that Rouse -- she suspected Rouse was part of a plot against her. She wrote about this in her book. She's tweeted about it -- tweeted suggestions about this recently. I was just wondering if you guys have any comment on that.Gibbs' quick dismissal of this as well as the question of state citizenship is a deflection of a question that deserves an answer, not a childish response. Since the press secretary is unwilling to answer it, allow me.
GIBBS: No. I mean, you know, it -- it's a fairly silly accusation that is baseless.
Let's connect the dots by first introducing you to Pete Rouse. Rachelle Friberg of Conservative Girl With A Voice writes:
You may or may not be familiar with the name Peter Rouse, but you should be. Rouse, an Alaskan, is a senior advisor to Barack Obama with an office between David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel. While being advisor to the president is a huge honor in itself, it is how Rouse got the job that is the main issue at hand. Rouse's mother grew up in AK and Rouse once served as chief of staff to former Lieutenant Governor Terry Miller. He is also good friends with fellow Alaskan State Senator Kim Elton, the individual who began the whole Troopergate investigation. This is an important link as NEN reports. NEN has uncovered audio of an interview Elton did with a reporter prior to the 2008 presidential election:Here are some astute observations regarding Troopergate by one writer who was observing the events as they happened. Holly Robichaud wrote on The Boston Herald's blog "Lone Republican:"
Elton: So this has been a fascinating year watching what's been happening back East.
Reporter: So you're an Obama man, Senator Elton?
Elton: I'm a big fan.
Reporter: Are you? Really? Is that an official endorsement?
Elton: I guess we can call it that. I've not done it any place else, but I kind of weighed in with a contribution, a couple of contributions this last year, but yeah you can make it official now.
So, the same individual who started Troopergate, was a "fan" and ardent supporter of then-candidate Obama? Elton is the kind of guy who doesn't seem to be able to keep his mouth shut. NEN uncovered another audio tape in which Elton admitted to talking to Rouse a couple times a month about the election: "One of my great friends, somebody I talk to a couple times a month is Pete Rouse who is chief of staff to Barack Obama." How ironic that an advisor to Obama be in such close communication with the individual, a democrat, who started the first ethics investigation against Sarah? But for the Obama campaign, one investigation was not enough. In typical Chicago-style politics, Sarah was a threat, so the Obama campaign continued on its mission to destroy her. NEN reported that the Obama campaign contacted the union for Alaska State Troopers, which is the union Mike Wooten (Sarah's ex-brother-in-law and trooper identified in the investigation) belonged to. This communication resulted in another ethics complaint- this time by the union for Alaska State Troopers.
Elton is a long-time friend of Pete Rouse, who was Senator Obama’s chief of staff and campaign advisor. (Rouse currently serves in the White House as a Senior Advisor.) According to CNN reports after Governor Sarah Palin was selected for the GOP ticket, the Obama campaign contacted the PSEA Union that represented Trooper Wooten and filed the phony complaint against her.When Sarah Palin gave her rollout speech followed by the RNC speech on September 4, 2008, she became an instant threat to the Obama candidacy. On September 9, 2008, according to The Next Right, "an Alaskan process server called [Bill Bennett's radio show] to talk about how many calls she's getting from media organizations trying to get court records on Sarah Palin, her son Trak, and their friends." Palin had helped McCain come within a statistical dead heat with Obama in the polls and the Democrats were getting nervous.
The connection between Elton and the Obama campaign should have served as a warning sign, but the liberal media wanted Palin’s scalp so they overlooked the relationship.
On several occasions Freedom of Information Requests were filed for emails, phone logs and other communications between the Obama campaign and Senator Elton. They were refused on the claim that FOIAs do not apply to legislators. Why not disclose all information in order to make the investigation legitimate? Because Elton had no intention of being impartial.
In fact, his investigation became so politically charged that 5 state legislators filed suit against the Chairman, Senator Hollis French, and the Democrats’ handpicked investigator, Stephen Branchflower.
In an attempt to restore impartiality to the proceedings, Alaska’s Speaker of the House, John Harris requested a special meeting with the Legislative Council, but his request was refused.
Elton continued on his witch hunt to destroy Palin by allowing the investigator to write the report before witnesses were even interviewed, misconstrue certain evidence and disregard evidence that was helpful to Palin.
Commenters at Free Republic speculated that presidential candidate Barack Obama's campaign operative David Axelrod was involved with getting Troopergate to conveniently hit the newsstands during the height of Palinmania on August 30, 2008. Axelrod’s fingerprints appear in Alaska immediately after Palin is announced as the Republican vice presidential candidate.
Dan Riehl covers the story in detail on his blog:
From there they drove huge blog bursts on the Liberal side of the web and were picked up by the media for that reason. This process placed a series of lies, distortions and false allegations targeted at Palin in the mainstream news cycle - again, at the very same time Obama was attacking her daily on the stump.David Axelrod began working very closely with Anita Dunn, who along with Rouse "advised Tony Knowles in the 2006 Alaska Gubernatorial campaign" according to Conservatives4Palin.com.
It’s quite clear that the Obama team was thrown into disarray by the Palin pick because over the next few weeks they threw every resource into undermining her credibility. Indeed at times it was as if she was Obama’s presidential opponent, rather than McCain.Pete Rouse "was the one who recruited Elton, a former journalist, into politics" according to the Anchorage Daily News. Rouse also worked with Anita Dunn for Tom Daschle.
Almost all of the misinformation about Governor Palin came from Alaska, partly from local Democrats like Kim Elton (of Troopergate fame) and from “progressive” bloggers. Publicly, of course, there were no Team Obama fingerprints to be found on these slanders but it beggars belief to assume that these were all spontaneous outpourings from concerned citizens. Some might suggest a whiff of orchestration and who else better to help connect the dots than someone closely involved with Alaskan Democrats since at least 2004 – someone like Anita Dunn.
Stacy Drake at ConservativesPalin makes this connection:
In 2008, after John McCain selected Governor Palin to be his running mate, the Obama campaign set up a political hit-team called "Alaskan Mythbusters." The group was headed up by Rouse associate, Tony Knowles. The "Mythbusters" had the ironic task of creating misleading political attacks, specifically on Governor Palin. They also spent a lot of time talking about Kim Elton's "ethics" investigation.Stacy Drake's piece on A Time For Choosing also points out:
Barack Obama has ties to Alaskan’s For Truth as well as the Wasilla Project and Mythbusters. And with his man Pete Rouse’s lifelong ties to Alaska, it’s just not much of a leap to understand this deliberate and coordinated effort to destroy Sarah Palin all leads to an office somewhere at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.With all the speculation about Rouse, we can't overlook the role that the guy who ended up in the office next to him played. Axelrod the AstroTurfer most likely carried out the details of the operation during the presidential campaign.
Andy Martin explains how "smears are an integral part of any Barack Obama/David Axelrod operation." Martin writes "Obama controls a sophisticated network of left-wing bloggers and mainstream media dupes."
On September 8, 2008, FactCheck.org noticed an unusual amount of internet traffic smearing Sarah Palin. Eric Erickson at Human Events pointed his finger specifically at David Axelrod when he wrote that "When those grassroots attacks are manufactured by public relations firms, they aren’t real: they’re astroturfed -- fake attacks designed to look like a grassroots movement."
Michelle Malkin wrote "Rusty Shackleford — with help from Jane of Armies of Liberation, Stable Hand, the Jawa team, Dan Riehl, Ace of Spades, and Patterico – traced a Palin-bashing YouTube video to a Democrat public relations firm, Winner and Associates, and one of its employees, Ethan S. Winner." Axelrod is known for his Astroturfing companies. But instead of doing the video in house, he farmed it out. Malkin explained it on Fox News.
Republicans filed suit to stop the Troopergate investigation because it was clear that it was being conducted strictly for partisan reasons - to damage Palin's vice presidential candidacy. ABC News reported:
The suit, filed in Alaska Superior Court, takes aim at Stephen Branchflower, the former prosecutor leading the probe; Sen. Hollis French, the Democratic state lawmaker chosen to manage the investigation; and Sen. Kim Elston [sic], the Democratic chair of the Republican-dominated Legislative Council, which voted unanimously to conduct the probe.The suit was dismissed by Superior Court Judge Peter Michalski, who was appointed by Governor William Sheffield (D-AK) in 1985. Also, the mainstream media never did any investigation into the allegations put forth in the complaint. In other words, they ran with stories based on reports from Democrat insiders without balancing them againsts statements from McCain campaign officials or researching the partisan nature of the probe.
All three men, the suit alleges, have conflicts which prohibit their involvement in the investigation. French and Elston have publicly supported Obama, the suit notes.
The suit claims Branchflower "developed a friendship" with the fired official at the center of the probe, Walt Monegan, when Branchflower was a prosecutor and Monegan was in law enforcement. It asks that if the probe continues, all three men be removed.
Knowing that Alaskans Rouse and Elton (with Axelrod handling the "pr") would do everything they could to help Barack Obama's campaign by driving the Troopergate investigation, Governor Palin short circuited the partisan legislative committee probe by filing an ethics complaint against herself with the State Personnel Board. According to juneauempire.com:
Branchflower's report came out Oct. 10, 2008, in the heat of a bitter presidential campaign. Then, Palin filed her complaint against herself on Troopergate with the Personnel Board. Its report, done by the Personnel Board-hired counsel Tim Petumenos, cleared Palin and came out the evening before the election.According to the Anchorage Daily News:
In a five-page response issued Friday night, Palin's attorney, Thomas Van Flein, accuses Branchflower and Democratic Sen. Hollis French, who oversaw the investigation, of using the probe in a partisan attempt to "smear the governor by innuendo."The legislative committee's credibility was ruined by the connection between Kim Elton, Pete Rouse and other Democrat operatives. Gary P. Jackson reports:
Van Flein says Branchflower's finding that Palin violated the ethics act is flawed because she received no monetary benefit from whatever actions she and her husband are accused of. He cited several prior ethics investigations.
"The common thread of all of these Ethics Act cases is money and the use of a government position to personally gain," Van Flein's statement says.
"Here, there is no accusation, no finding and no facts that money or financial gain to the Governor was involved in the decision to remove Monegan," the governor's attorney says. "There can be no ethics violations under these circumstances."
The McCain-Palin campaign also responded.
Because Branchflower's report does not recommend any particular penalty for Palin, it shows the investigation was outside the Legislature's authority, campaign Meghan Stapleton said.
"The Palins make no apologies for wanting to protect their family and the public interest by reporting to appropriate authorities the conduct of a threatening and abusive trooper," Stapleton said.
Sarah was cleared, and democrats Kim Elton, Hollis French, Beth Kerttula, Stephen Branchflower, and others were taken to the wood shed for hiding evidence that cleared Palin, and even used the wrong statute as the basis for their witch hunt, Barack Obama “rewarded” Kim Elton with a make work job at the Department of Interior. A little Chicago style pay-for-play.
Of course, no discussion of this fine group of individuals would be complete without reminding everyone that Pete Rouse, now a Senior White House adviser, basically founded, recruited, and coordinated the Alaska Mafia from his cushy D.C. office. Rouse used Mafia members to continually plant false stories about Sarah Palin in the media, as well as continually file all of those phony ethics complaints against her, complaints that would cost the Alaska tax payers over $2 million to deal with.
To this day, if you see a story about Sarah Palin that come from far left hate sites like the Huffington Post (which are then picked up by the “mainstream media“) just know that Rouse, or one of his people has something to do with it. That’s how these people roll.How's that for a silly, baseless accusation, Mr. Gibbs? Do you care to be a little more substantive next time you answer a question like that? You can't flick the whole nest off thinking it's just one bee. The American people want an explanation from the White House press secretary, not just a silly song and a dance.