Secessionist Palin Story: McCain Camp Pushes Back

Last night, ABC's Jake Tapper reported that officials of a fringe Alaska party once counted Sarah Palin as a member:

Officials of the Alaskan Independence Party say that Palin was once so independent, she was once a member of their party, which, since the 1970s, has been pushing for a legal vote for Alaskans to decide whether or not residents of the 49th state can secede from the United States.

And while McCain's motto -- as seen in a new TV ad -- is "Country First," the AIP's motto is the exact opposite -- "Alaska First -- Alaska Always."

John McCain's campaign reports of her membership in AIP "smears," blaming them on Barack Obama's campaign and Daily Kos. They also sent around Palin's voter registration document, showing her to have been a registered Republican since 1982.

However, TPMmuckraker reports that Palin's husband's affiliation with the group can't be disputed:

This afternoon, the director of Division of Elections in Alaska, Gail Fenumiai, told TPMmuckraker that Todd Palin registered in October 1995 to the Alaska Independence Party, a radical group that advocates for Alaskan secession from the United States.

Besides a short period of a few months in 2000 when he changed his registration to undeclared, Todd Palin remained a registered member of AIP until July 2002 when he registered again as an undeclared voter.

And today, ABC reports that Sarah Palin did attend the 1994 Alaska Independence Party convention:

As part of their pushback against the charges of Lynette and Dexter Clark of the AIP, the McCain campaign says that Palin did not even attend the AIP convention in Wasilla in 1994.

But another former AIP official -- Mark Chryson, chairman of the AIP from 1995 to 2002 -- tells ABC News that "Palin was at the convention in 1994. She was there."

And AIP's Lynette Clark still insists that the governor was a member. "This is like a cat covering up crap in its litter box," she said.