ST.PAUL — In her nationally televised speech accepting the job as John McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said she “championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress” and opposed federal funding for a controversial bridge to a sparsely populated island.
“I told Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ on that bridge to nowhere,” Palin said Friday in Ohio, using the critics’ dismissive name of the project. “‘If our state wanted a bridge,’ I said, ‘we’d build it ourselves.’”
While running for governor in 2006, though, Palin backed federal funding for the infamous bridge, which McCain helped make it a symbol of pork barrel excess.
And as mayor of the small town of Wasilla from 1996 to 2002, Palin also hired a Washington lobbying firm that helped secure $8 million in congressionally directed spending projects, known as earmarks, according to public spending records compiled by the watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste and lobbying documents.
Wasilla’s lobbying firm was headed by Steven Silver — a former chief of staff to Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, a key proponent of the bridge project.
“We need to come to the defense of Southeast Alaska when proposals are on the table like the bridge, and not allow the spinmeisters to turn this project or any other into something that’s so negative,” Palin said in August 2006, according to the Ketchikan Daily News.
The Anchorage Daily News quoted her in October 2006 as saying she would continue state funding for the bridge. “The window is now, while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist,” she said.
She didn’t change her mind, apparently, until the project, and the state of Alaska, had become a laughingstock when the rest of the nation realized that they wanted yet more of our money:
She changed her mind, he said, when “she saw that Alaska was being perceived as taking from the country and not giving, and that impression bothered her and she wants to change it. … I think that Sarah Palin is someone who has the courage to reevaluate situations as they developed.”
Flip, meet flop.