- The Washington Times - Monday, July 6, 2009

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin used her Twitter page Sunday to fire back at critics seizing on her decision to abruptly resign from office this month and to rebut speculation of an FBI investigation.

Shortly after lawmakers, pundits and political strategists took to the Sunday morning television talk shows to call her decision to step down a political mistake, Mrs. Palin posted several Tweets on the social-networking Web site aimed at reassuring supporters that she had made the correct decision.

“Critics are spinning, so hang in there as they feed false info on the right decision made as I enter last yr in office to not run again,” wrote Mrs. Palin, who has been considered a likely Republican presidential candidate in 2012.

A few hours later, in an attempt to debunk speculation that her pending resignation was linked to a rumored FBI investigation, she posted a link on her Twitter page to a Los Angeles Times article that quoted an agency official saying that there was “absolutely no truth” that the FBI was investigating the governor.

Mrs. Palin also earlier in the day posted a link to a letter from her attorney, Thomas Van Flein, which pushed back at allegations, saying that Mrs. Palins resignation had nothing to do with the rumored criminal investigation that she illegally intervened in the construction of a sports complex in Wasilla, the Alaska town where she formerly served as mayor.

But many political figures say that Mrs. Palin’s abrupt resignation will haunt her if she decides to run for president.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a potential GOP rival of Mrs. Palin in 2012, on Sunday called her decision to step down from office a “risky strategy” politically.

“Nobody knows whether it’s going to pay off or not,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “And even if she did get out primarily because of a feeling of being chased, that’s not going to stop if she continues in politics.”

Mr. Huckabee, who ran for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination before withdrawing from the race several months before the November election, said Mrs. Palin’s hastily called news conference on Friday to announce her resignation has raised more questions than it answered.

“My political mentor, Ed Rollins, the other day on his radio show brought that up - that you don’t call a press conference that creates questions. You call one to resolve them,” the former governor said.

Mrs. Palin, the Republicans’ 2008 vice presidential nominee, said on Friday that her decision to step down from office July 26 was based in part on her family’s desire for her to quit.

But Mr. Huckabee, Arkansas governor from 1996 to 2007, said she was making a serious political mistake if she was resigning to shield herself and her family from media scrutiny.

“If that had been the case for me, I’d have quit about my first month [as governor] because I was a Republican governor in a state where 89 percent of my Legislature were Democrats,” he said.

Karl Rove, a former senior adviser to President George W. Bush, also said on Sunday that he was “perplexed” by Mrs. Palin’s actions.

“If she wanted to escape the ethics investigations and save the taxpayers money, she’s now done that, but it sort of sent a signal that if you do this kind of thing to a sitting governor like her, you can drive her out of office,” Mr. Rove said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Mr. Rove said that Mrs. Palin’s decision has significantly hurt her chances of winning the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

“When you’re a sitting governor, you have the tactical advantage - if you’re thinking about running for president - of turning down a lot of things with an excuse that people will accept: ‘I’ve got a job to do as governor,’ ” he said. “She’s now removed that.”

Mrs. Palin, during her Friday press conference, bemoaned the amount of time and money she had to devote to personal legal battles and overcoming negative press coverage.

“I cannot stand here as your governor and allow the millions of dollars and all that time to go to waste, just so I can hold the title of governor,” she said, referring to the impact of multiple ethics complaints against her. All but two of the 15 ethics complaints filed against Mrs. Palin have been dismissed with no findings of wrongdoing; the remaining two are pending.

Alaska Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, in line to become governor when Mrs. Palin steps down, said she has spoken with him about the toll the ethics investigations have taken on her. He said the legal bills for fighting the complaints already have cost state taxpayers about $2 million.

“That was just over the top, and I think she used the word ‘insane’ … in her remarks,” he said.

• Sean Lengell can be reached at slengell@washingtontimes.com.

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