During last week's VP debate, Sarah Palin talked big with claims of her administration's leadership role in an attempt to divest Alaska holdings from Darfur. Sound too good to be true? Guess why.
Below is the real story from (D) Rep. Les Gara, who filed legislation cosponsored by (R) Rep. Bob Lynn to require Alaska to divest from companies supporting the genocide in Darfur.
Les didn't even get to hear the last half hour of the VP debate, because as soon as Palin dropped her little bomb about Darfur and how she "called for" divestment as soon as she found out about it, his phone started ringing off the hook with people saying, "HUH?".
Palin's Debate Claim Not Accurate That She Opposed Darfur Investments When She First "Found Out" About Them
Documents Show Palin Administration Supported Investments in Businesses Linked to Darfur Genocide Until March, 2008.
"When I and others in the legislature found out we had some millions of dollars in Sudan, we called for divestment through legislation of those dollars to make sure we weren't doing anything that would be seen as condoning the activities there in Darfur." Sarah Palin, Oct. 2, 2008, VP Debate
During last week's Vice Presidential debate, Governor Palin stated that once she "found out" that her state's large investment funds held stock in companies linked to the Darfur genocide, she worked to divest from them, in a stand against Sudan's brutal genocide. Dozens of other states have divested from companies linked to the government-sponsored genocide in Sudan's Darfur region.The facts show the Governor did not in fact take a stand on this issue when she "found out" about it. A recently discovered 2006 letter, other documents, and records of legislative committee testimony show the Palin Administration opposed efforts by Alaska legislators to pass a Darfur divestment bill until near the end of the 2007-2008 legislative session.
These documents (linked below) show Governor Palin was asked by members of Congressto divest from Sudan's genocide-related companies in November of 2006. Records show her Administration was asked again to divest through 2007, that this issue was discussed in Alaska's media, and that her Administration to divest from these companies through February of 2008. "The Administration's opposition to our divestment legislation was one of the reasons we couldn't get the bill passed. I do appreciate that they eventually dropped their opposition. But in fairness, they didn't do anything to help when they found out about this problem," said Alaska State Rep. Les Gara (D-Anch.), who filed legislation in 2007 with co-Sponsor Rep. Bob Lynn (R-Anch), to require Alaska to divest from companies implicated in the Darfur genocide.The following documents demonstrate the Palin Administration was asked to join the divestment effort in November of 2006, and opposed divestment efforts through February of 2008:
1. In November, 2006, members of Congress wrote personally to the Governor to ask that she join other states in divesting their assets from companies implicated by the human rights communityin the Darfur genocide.
3. In December 2007, members of the Save Darfur Coalition met with the Governor's office, without success, in an effort to gain support for divestment.
4. The Palin Administration testified in opposition to divestment from companies implicated in the Darfur genocide. On February 9, 2008, the Alaska Legislature's House State Affairs Committee held its first hearing on Rep. Lynn & Gara's HB 287. The Palin Administration and the Permanent Fund Corporation testified against the bill. Brian Andrews (since deceased), Deputy Commissioner of the State of Alaska, Department of Revenue, testified on behalf of the Palin Administration. This testimony helped kill this bill, with 4 members of the Governor's Republican party stating their opposition to the bill (Reps. Bob Roses, Craig Johnson, Kyle Johansen and John Coghill). The bill never left this committee, and died when the legislative session ended on April 12, 2008. Deputy Commissioner Andrews testified at length against divestment from Sudan, and stated in part: "[T]he desire to make a difference is noble, but mixing moral and political agendas at the expense of our citizens' financial security is not a good combination."
5. Through February and March, 2008, the Save Darfur Coalition and Rep. Gara kept working to change the Administration's position. The former held a rally on the capitol steps. "I was pretty angry at how lightly the Permanent Fund and Administration took this issue, and began pushing for meetings to convince them that investing in genocide was wrong," said Gara. Rep. Gara's office held meetings with both the Commissioner of the Department of Revenue, Pat Galvin, and Permanent Fund Corporation Director Mike Burns. In late March of 2008 the Commissioner of Revenue and Governor agreed to change course and support the divestment effort. On April 1 Commissioner Galvin testified in favor of a companion Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Hollis French (D - Anch.). But with 12 days left in the legislation session at that point, the bill never made it to the Senate or House Floor for a vote, and House Bill 287 never made it out of the House State Affairs Committee.
Les Gara is a frequent contributor to Mudflats.