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Frank Bailey: Sarah Palin knowingly broke election law

Patti Epler

In 2006, Sarah Palin's political rivals accused her campaign of breaking the law by coordinating a campaign ad with the Republican Governor's Association that independently opposed the election of Democrat Tony Knowles. Complaints were filed with the state campaign finance agency but no violation was ever proved.

Now, Frank Bailey, a top Palin campaign aide, says the coordinated effort did happen and that although he resisted what he thought to be an illegal activity, others on the staff went along with it and that Palin herself participated in an anti-Knowles TV spot paid for by the RGA.

In an unpublished manuscript that has been widely circulating among media and politicos, Bailey recounts events surrounding the RGA's entry into the Alaska governor's race and includes what he says are e-mail excerpts that he believes back up his story.

Bailey says he was contacted in August 2006 by Rep. Bill Stoltze, a Republican from Chugiak and Palin supporter, who urged him to contact "friends" in the RGA who wanted to help Palin by attacking Knowles in the November election.

Bailey says he told Stoltze that a coordinated effort would be against the law but that Stoltze was insistent. He says Stoltze told him to call Kris Knauss, a former staffer for Frank Murkowski and political operative who was working with the RGA.

Stoltze did not return a phone call Friday seeking comment for this story.

Knauss, now a lobbyist, said: "I don't know what he's talking about." When read an e-mail included in the manuscript that was allegedly sent by Knauss to Bailey, Knauss said he didn't remember that, adding, "It's been a long time."

"At this point, I don't have a comment," Knauss said.

Bailey said he never took Stoltze's suggestion to contact Knauss or the RGA and that Stoltze visited him again and demanded to know why he wasn't making the connection. Bailey says he told Stoltze he was "uncomfortable" doing that because he thought it was illegal and that Stoltze became angry and left the office.

Two days later, Bailey says, he got a message from campaign coordinator Kris Perry telling him she and Palin were meeting with Gov. Mitt Romney, than chair of the RGA. Anchorage Daily News reporter Kyle Hopkins wrote about the meeting and questioned why she would be meeting with them unless it was about her campaign.

Perry could not be reached for comment for this story.

Bailey writes of a Sept. 2006 e-mail he says came from Knauss that gave him a head's up on a poll the RGA was putting in the field. Other national Republican groups shared opposition research with the Palin camp and Knauss, according to the e-mail, apparently wanted to coordinate RGA officials' schedules with Palin's in the coming week.

Bailey also includes a note to Palin allegedly sent by Perry telling the candidate that Romney wanted to speak with her and that RGA was very supportive of her campaign.

Action: Palin walking down street in RGA commercial, take 3

Bailey says he heard nothing more about the RGA for a period of time and had thought "we had turned our back on the RGA serpent's offer of a financial apple."

But then, Bailey says, one day when he joined Palin and Perry at the Hotel Captain Cook for a fundraiser for another candidate he believes the RGA was filming a TV spot and that Palin and Perry knew they were participating in it. Bailey says Perry asked him to walk down the street with Palin for a short distance then go back inside only to do it over again. At one point, Bailey says, he saw her signaling a cameraman outside and then Perry sent Palin out to walk down the street alone.

That footage was later used in a campaign commercial paid for by the RGA. Bailey says he was shocked when he saw it.

Bailey says he is convinced he had been lied to by Palin and Perry about remaining independent from the RGA and he chalks it up to the campaign needing money and all the help it could get.

Andrew Halcro clearly remembers the advertisements put together by the Republican Governor's Association. He complained about it at the time on local talk radio programs and even filed a complaint with the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

"When those adds came out, you could clearly see that they were staged," Halcro says now. Halcro had by then spent a lot of time around Palin. He pointed out how strange it was that in the commercials she wasn't carrying the purse she always carried. He was blasted as a sexist for that comment.

Halcro eventually filed a complaint charging the RGA had conspired with the Palin campaign to create the commercials in violation of election laws. The complaint went nowhere.

"They just didn't have any proof," Halcro said.

Bailey, who devotes two chapters to the RGA situation and then references it numerous other places in the manuscript, goes into some detail about the Palin campaign trying to distance itself from the TV spot after critics and the news media started asking questions about it.

In some ways, it was the turning point for him, he says.

Looking back at what they had done, Bailey says, he feels great disappointment in Palin and in himself.

Craig Medred contributed to this article. Contact Patti Epler at patti@alaskadispatch.com