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Anchorage Daily News

Anti-Palin Rally Calls for Colberg Removal

Kyle Hopkins

Participants hoist a variety of messages at the Hold Palin Accountable Rally along I Street Saturday September 27, 2008 on the Delaney Park Strip. (Photo: Erik Hill, ADN)

A protest slamming Gov. Sarah Palin's handling of the state's so-called Troopergate investigation -- and calling for the attorney general to lose his job -- drew more than 1,000 people to the Delaney Park Strip in Anchorage on Saturday.

Protesters chanted "recall Palin!" as organizers told the crowd to push state legislators to keep after their investigation into the governor's firing of her top cop.

An investigator hired by the lawmakers is scheduled to present his report on Oct. 10.

"This report needs to be released. Not just for us ... it needs to be released for all those people in the Lower 48 who are going to make a decision on Nov. 4," Democratic blogger Linda Kellen Biegel told hundreds of protesters gathered on the Park Strip grass.

The McCain-Palin campaign dismissed the rally as nothing more than a partisan strike from Barack Obama loyalists.

The crowd lined I Street, waving signs that said "Steady on her heels, wobbly on her words" and "Dude, where's my governor?" at passing cars. They dressed as Richard Nixon, or Hillary Clinton, or as Palin herself, holding a sign that said "hold me accountable."

A group calling itself Alaskans for Truth organized the event, which at times resembled an Obama campaign rally.

Between speeches, Anchorage singer-songwriter Libby Roderick led the crowd in a chorus of "We're gonna keep on moving forward" and "Stand tall for Obama." Obama volunteers signed up supporters under a nearby tent.

"Clearly this was an Obama rally and nothing else," Palin campaign spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton said in an e-mailed statement. "The rally proves the point of partisanship which the Governor has been trying to remove from the investigation in an effort to get a fair and just result."

Organizer Camille Conte, a radio host on left-leaning KUDO 1080 AM, said the event was about holding Palin to her word, and the pro-Obama message wasn't supposed to be part of the rally.

"It was hard to stop that once it started, and the crowd seemed to want it," she said.


Next to the political fliers sat petitions calling for the removal of Attorney General Talis Colberg.

On July 28, the Legislative Council -- a bipartisan group of 12 state lawmakers -- voted to launch an abuse-of-power investigation into Palin's firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.

Some Republican lawmakers have tried to get the Legislative Council, or the court, to delay the investigation until after the presidential election.

Rally organizers handed out talking points Saturday urging people to e-mail and call council members and tell them to stick with the probe.

Palin initially said she'd cooperate with the investigation. Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain announced Palin as his running mate Aug. 29, and the McCain camp has argued that the investigation became a partisan witch hunt spurred by Democrats.

Colberg is suing to quash the Legislature's subpoenas of Palin aides in what's become a struggle between the state's executive and legislative branches of government.


Nicole McCullough came to the rally with her grand-niece and grand-nephew -- twins born the day before Palin's youngest son, Trig. McCullough wore a pitbull mask with giant red lips, a reference to a Palin's joke about hockey moms, pit bulls and lipstick at the Republican National Convention.

The twins held pit bull masks too.

A Hillary Clinton supporter earlier in the election, McCullough called Palin "a female Dan Quayle" and carried a sign that read: "Gov. Pitbull: call off your McCain dogs."

It was a reference to the McCain spokespeople and attorneys, including the self-described "Truth Squad" who have been defending the governor in regular Anchorage press conferences.

The Outside lawyers are clogging Alaska's legislative process, McCullough said.

The McCain camp says it's the other side that's making things political. For example, they say statements by Sen. Hollis French, who is overseeing the investigation and said the probe could end in impeachment, show Democrats are gunning for the governor.

The rally stretched past two hours, with a string of speeches from bloggers, the head of the troopers union and Monegan's mom. Someone read a written statement from Democratic Anchorage Rep. Les Gara -- which at one point ignited a chant of Obama's campaign slogan, "Yes we can" -- and calling for a "shout out" to French.

Like a similar rally two weeks earlier, the event gathered anti-Palin protesters from all corners. Some held signs saying "My body, my rights," while others criticized her views on aerial wolf-hunting.

Unlike last time, no organized counter-protest appeared.


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