Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Palin Spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton Jumps Ship; Split Appears Amiable On The Surface, But HuffPo Implies Otherwise

The lead spokeswoman for former Governor Sarah Palin has announced her departure from the Palin entourage. Meghan Stapleton, who ably defended and represented her principal for over 1 1/2 years, has left Palin's service ostensibly for family reasons. Politico published the primary story, but it was also picked up by the Anchorage Daily News and Conservatives4Palin. All the above sources imply the split is amiable. A Washington Post article not only picks up the story, but mentions the other names in Palin's inner circle.

Stapleton has been closely associated with Palin since December 2006 and became one of the former governor's most trusted aides after Palin was selected by GOP presidential nominee John McCain to be his running mate. During the presidential campaign, Stapleton became a nightly fixture on Alaskans' television screens as she jousted with the media alongside McCain operative Ed O'Callaghan, who together constituted what would become known as the "Truth Squad".

Stapleton said her decision is no reflection upon Palin, but to spend more time with her husband and 2-year-old daughter, Isabella. “While it has been an honor to help Governor Palin and her family over the last few years, I am also honored to have this incredible opportunity to stay home with my precious miracle, Isabella,” Stapleton told Politico. "[She is] 2 years old, [and] I have missed significant moments in her life, but I look forward with great happiness to celebrating milestones as well as mundane moments with her as I refocus my priorities. I also look forward to seeing my saint of a husband again, too!” Politico also reports that it was not a spontaneous decision; Palin and Stapleton allegedly have been discussing it for some time.

Stapleton told ADN that there are no plans for her to have any role, either formally or informally, with Palin. "If she asks or needs any advice I'm always happy to give my opinion. But she is a very independent person too. She listens to those around her and makes her own decisions," Stapleton said.

Some interesting responses surfaced in the comments section of the ADN story. Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage), who was once on the receiving end of Stapleton's tart tongue, was indirectly quoted with this catty, ingracious response: "It's not every day you find a job that pays you gobs of money to say nasty things about good people – but I'm sure she'll find something. Maybe she can be Glenn Beck's PR person next." And ethics gadfly Andree McLeod added this zinger: "Get yourself to church Meg dahling. There's much atonement ahead..."

But a hit piece published by Huffington Post implied there was more to Stapleton's decision. They imply that Stapleton was "thrown under the bus" like other Palin operatives. They insinuated that there has been trouble brewing in Palin's inner-circle for a while - of near breakdowns and dramatic outbursts - as the arrival of more paid political operatives from outside Alaska has created furious infighting for Palin's favors. One nugget of truth: 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 during the summer of 2009. But in the final analysis, HuffPo, which damages its own credibility by over-relying on the infamous Alaska progressive bloggers who waged a character assassination campaign against Palin, misrepresents Meghan Stapleton as Sarah Palin's evil twin.

Conservative Alaska blogger Thomas Lamb also approves of Stapleton's departure. He also thinks Rebecca Mansour should go as well. The latter I'll agree with; Mansour acted like the absolute dictator of Conservatives4Palin when she was there.

The bottom line: Meghan Stapleton did exactly what Sarah Palin was paying her $96,000 to do - represent Palin, take and deliver hits for her. The fact that she pissed off a few progressives merely shows she did her job quite well.

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