- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Opening the door

Sarah Palin’s most ardent supporters are keeping the door wide open to her political ambitions, despite her abrupt resignation as governor of Alaska in the aftermath of her tumultuous bid for vice president on the Republican Party’s 2008 presidential ticket.

Mrs. Palin has been vague about her plans and keen to keep her options open in interviews and statements since making the bombshell announcement and suggested she was looking for ways to advance her conservative agenda outside of Alaska.

Her supporters are following suit.

Mrs. Palin’s personal lawyer Thomas Van Flein wrote in a statement Tuesday that Mrs. Palin had “created a new political reality and is changing the battlefield to pursue her goals of energy independence for America, rational tax policies, improved national security and more efficient and smaller government.”

“I suspect you may see her in the future,” he added.

Rebecca Mansour, editor of www.conservatives4palin.com, says she’s seen a flood of e-mails urging Mrs. Palin to run in 2012, requests for the governor to make 2010 campaign appearances, and an uptick in donations to her political action committee since the announcement.

Ms. Mansour said she was “shocked” to hear the news at first, but thinks that Mrs. Palin is destined to fight for conservative values on the national stage, rather than in Alaska, where she had little support from state-based Republicans and was being hamstrung on energy investments by the Legislature.

“Ordinary Americans listen to what she has to say and that would be a great role for her,” Ms. Mansour said.

Palin welcome

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele seemed to welcome the notion of Sarah Palin acting as a Republican Party surrogate for 2010 candidates, although he ruled her out as a potential 2012 presidential candidate.

“Not having talked to the governor, I take 2012 off the table right now simply because given everything she’s going through personally, dealing with the financial mess that all these ludicrous investigations have put her and [her husband] Todd in, at the moment, I think she’s trying to focus on getting her house in order, her personal house in order,” Mr. Steele told Fox News on Tuesday.

“I look forward to welcoming her out and helping us in our campaigns this fall if and when she’s ready to do that. Sarah Palin will be the ultimate arbiter of when she will engage and how she will engage,” he said.

White House pay

White House staffers make nearly twice as much as the average American worker, according to government-provided labor statistics and data released from the executive office.

The White House released its annual salary report to Congress last week with the names, job descriptions and salaries paid per staffer. The Washington Times found the average yearly salary is $80,219, almost double the nationwide salary average of $42,270 as calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2008.

Twenty-two of President Obama’s top-level staffers, including speechwriter Jon Favreau, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, press secretary Robert Gibbs and senior White House adviser David Axelrod, earn a stipend of $172,000 a year. David E. Marcozzi, the president’s director of public health policy, is the highest paid aide, earning $192,934 annually.

Up to 108 staffers make less than the nationwide salary average. Those jobs at the lower-end of the pay scale, except for two advisers who work without pay, start at $36,000 per year. Most of them are employed as staff or legislative assistants or correspondent analysts. Two unique job descriptions include “greetings coordinator” and a “gift analyst.”

Getting recognition

The District of Columbia on Tuesday began legally recognizing same-sex couples married in states or countries that permit gay marriage.

The District’s new law grants same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual married couples, although gay marriage ceremonies are still prohibited in the District, similar to law in New York state.

Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese would like to see gay marriage legalized but he praised the change, calling it an “important and historic step towards equal dignity, equal respect and equal rights under D.C. law for same-sex couples.”

• Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter@washington times.com.

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