Sarah Palin is resigning as Alaska’s governor because the volume of investigations and public-record requests scrutinizing her activities kept her from doing what she wanted, said one of her confidantes.
Kristan Cole, who has been friends with Gov. Palin since both were in the same elementary school nearly 40 years ago, said she heard from the governor over the weekend. She was one of the few to speak with Gov. Palin, who stunned the political world when she announced Friday she was resigning, effective July 26.
The governor gave no specific reason for her exit, beyond citing relentless complaints against her that were hampering her ability to do her job.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Ms. Cole said the probes and scrutiny kept Gov. Palin from doing what she loved, which was interacting with Alaskans on issues such as her belief in smaller government.
Gov. Palin had faced increasing scrutiny after her run as the Republican vice-presidential nominee last year, with investigations launched into situations such as one dubbed “Troopergate,” when officials looked into whether Gov. Palin or members of her family used their influence to try to get her former brother-in-law fired as a state trooper. An investigation by an agency under the governor’s office cleared Gov. Palin of any wrongdoing, while one headed by a legislative committee concluded she had abused her office.
“Here’s the bottom line: She has a ton of support, but she felt behind a desk her resources were being wasted,” said Ms. Cole, who runs a real-estate business. “She thinks she can get things done more efficiently this way.”
Since the resignation announcement, friends and supporters have sought to explain Gov. Palin’s departure. Some have speculated she is resigning to pursue a presidential run in 2012. But Ms. Cole said Gov. Palin didn’t mention 2012 to her, adding that the governor simply wanted to put the state first. Gov. Palin “feels at peace with the decision, as she believes it is the right thing for Alaskans,” Ms. Cole said.
On Monday, Gov. Palin, 45 years old, remained out of public view. On her Twitter site, she said she was going to some villages in western Alaska this week on state business and once again defended her resignation.
“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,” Gov. Palin tweeted Sunday. In another message the same day, she said she planned to join her husband and their children for one day “picking fish” at a commercial fishery the Palins work at each summer in Alaska’s Bristol Bay.
Ms. Cole, 47, is part of an inner circle of the governor’s friends from the Wasilla area, an hour’s drive north of Anchorage. Some from that circle have been selected to positions in the Palin administration, including Ms. Cole, who once served as chairman of the state Creamery Board.
More recently, Ms. Cole has helped coordinate fund-raising efforts to defray the governor’s more than $500,000 in personal legal expenses from fighting ethics complaints. Ms. Cole said she has received phone and email threats “and things in the mail” because of her association with the Palins.
Ms. Cole said the governor never faced the kind of personal attacks she has since running for vice president. “In Alaska, her family was off limits,” she said. That changed when critics began scrutinizing the pregnancy of her unwed teenaged daughter, Bristol. Bristol dealt with the attention calmly, Ms. Cole said.
“I’ve talked with Bristol, and when you’ve got a mom like Sarah, the kids are pretty tough as well,” Ms. Cole said.
In the end, Ms. Cole said her friend concluded she could be more effective out of the governor’s office, “where she seems to be this huge target.”