While I was out this afternoon, the McCain campaign released records showing that Sarah Palin was not registered as a member of the Alaska Independence Party, though TPM Muckraker found that her husband was. Now the main source for the story that Sarah Palin was a party member is backing off his earlier claims:
"Dexter Clark, husband of Lynette and a vice chairman of the Alaska Independence Party, said that when his wife told reporters that Palin had been an AIP member she was "acting on information from Mark Chryson," the party's regional chair for Wasilla, Palin's hometown. The 1994 convention was held in Wasilla, where Palin was a city councilmember at the time. Chryson "has repeatedly said to me personally and my wife, Lynette, and groups of party members at large, that at that 1994 convention, Sarah and Todd Palin attended and registered as members," Dexter Clark told Mother Jones.
Asked how Palin could have been a member, when state records did not indicate Palin ever registered as an AIP member, Chyrson, in an interview with Mother Jones, backed off his account. "What could have been the confusion—her husband was a member of the party. He was at the convention. She could have been considered—it might have been thought she was a member then." Talking Points Memo has reported that Todd Palin was a member of the AIP from 1995 to 2002, with the exception of a short period in 2000 when he was undeclared.
Chyrson said he did not remember seeing Sarah Palin at the 1994 convention: "I don't, no. I was working behind the scenes. Back then I was only vaguely familiar with her. I would not have recognized her. I had just met her. I probably would not have recognized her." He added that Sarah Palin did not play "an active role in the party" or to speak out for its causes.
Not being registered as an AIP member did not keep some Alaskans from being supporters of the party and its aims. Jack Coghill, the lieutenant governor of Alaska from 1990 to 1994 and a candidate for governor in 1994 on the AIP ticket, told Mother Jones that being friendly with the AIP and a registered Republican was "common" in the 1990s. Might Palin had had a similar relationship with the party? Given her husband's long-time membership in the group, Palin was likely aware of the group's tenets. And in 2008, as governor, she submitted a welcoming video to the AIP convention in Fairbanks. "Your party plays an important role in our state's politics," she said. "I've always said that competition is so good, and that applies to political parties as well… We have a great promise: to be a self-sufficient state." She closed by saying, "Good luck on a successful and inspiring convention. Keep up the good work, and God bless you.""
Since I wrote earlier that she was a member, I wanted to set the record straight.