New Chief of Staff, With Alaskan Roots, Not Liked by Sarah Palin

By Jared

Oct 1, 2010 10:30am

The low-key Pete Rouse, whom President Obama will name chief of staff on an interim basis later this morning, has at least one high-profile detractor: former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Palin has suggested that Rouse was one of the driving forces behind attacks against her.

In Palin’s Going Rogue, she writes on a period when “a group from the Republican Governors Association traveled north to warn us that I was being 'Emanuelized' or 'Thumped.' As evidence, they pointed to a book called The Thumpin': How Rahm Emanuel and the Democrats Learned to Be Ruthless and Ended the Republican Revolution. It's the story of how the Illinois congressman, now President Obama's chief of staff, had crafted and executed the ruthless 2006 campaign strategy that won back Congress for the Democrats. The RGA told us that Alaska was being given the 'Chicago treatment.'”

Continued Palin: "Their arguments fit the bill. Those who have seen this before traced the ethics attacks back to the period when I was being vetted for the vice presidential slot and also linked them to the partisan investigation known in the media as 'Troopergate.' Walt Monegan knew that I was well within my rights to remove him, and in normal times it would have been a nonissue, but a few days later, the troopers' union and a group of Democrats with close ties to a senior adviser to the Obama campaign, Pete Rouse, then Senator Obama's chief of staff, were demanding an investigation.”

Added the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, "Rouse had lived in Alaska many years before, returning only on a couple of occasions over the last decade. Yet, somehow, though he actually resides on the East Coast, and has for years, he still votes in Alaska through a voter registration address in Main Street in Juneau — an address once shared by Alaska State Senator Kim Elton on voter rolls. Elton, who played a key role in advancing the Monegan issue as a ginned-up 'scandal,' has since moved to Washington and joined the Obama interior department as director of Alaska affairs.”

Palin also suggested that then-Sen. Obama lifted the incredibly common campaign theme of “change” from her gubernatorial campaign. “Every part of our campaign shouted 'Change!'” she wrote. “We were amused a couple of years later when Barack Obama, one of whose senior advisers (come to think of it) had roots in Alaska– adopted the same theme.”

Rouse’s mother, the daughter of immigrants from Japan, grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. In 1978, Rouse flew to the 49th state in 1978 to visit a friend, Terry Miller, a Republican who had just been elected lieutenant governor. Rouse became his chief of staff, returning to Washington, DC, in 1983, and working on the Hill for Democrats. Rouse kept many ties to the Land of the Midnight Sun, including his voter registration. The Anchorage Daily News notes that in 2008 Rouse voted absentee from Juneau.

Writes the Daily News: “There's no record now that he's still registered in the state. In 2008, he could have legally remained on Alaska's voter roles as long as he didn't vote elsewhere and intended to return someday. Voters also are allowed to remain registered in Alaska if they are working somewhere in civil service of the United States — a description that pretty much encapsulates Rouse's career. (He does not show up on Alaska Permanent Fund dividend records.)”

After Rouse was mentioned as a potential replacement for Emanuel, Palin tweeted: “Alaska's Pete Rouse (@ least he claims to be ‘Alaska’)finally comes out of the shadows; Obama looks to appt him COS;strange doings in the WH.”

She added: “(Rahm's the smart one…bailing before Nov) Now, check out possible COS Pete Rouse. His background, voter reg in AK,etc. It's a small world.”

After Palin resigned her governorship, Palin adviser Meg Stapleton told TIME that attacks against the governor and her family were from the White House.

"A lot of this comes from Washington, D.C. The trail is pretty direct and pretty obvious to us," Stapleton told the magazine, alluding to The Thumpin'. "It's the Sarah Palin playbook. It's how they operate.” The magazine wrote that “Palin and her Alaska circle find evidence for their suspicions about the White House in the person of Pete Rouse, who lived in Juneau for a time before he became chief of staff to a young U.S. Senator named Barack Obama. Rouse, they note, is a friend of former Alaska state senator Kim Elton, who pushed the first ethics investigation of Palin, examining her controversial firing of the state's public-safety commissioner. Both Rouse and Elton have joined the Obama Administration.”

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told TIME that “the charge is ridiculous. Obviously there is no effort … From my vantage point, a lot of the criticism she is getting from others seems to be generated from self-inflicted wounds."

 –Jake Tapper

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