Alicia Lewis: Victim of the Sarah Palin Attack Machine Speaks Out

Alicia Lewis, victim of the Sarah Palin Attack Machine Speaks Out: Inside a young student’s experience with a powerful political personality and leader of the Tea Party, who labels those who don’t agree with her as personal enemies and political operatives. When Alicia Lewis attempted to hold CSU fiscally accountable, she found herself on the wrong end of Palin’s attack machine.

Stanislaus Shredded Documents Photo: John Myers
Stanislaus Shredded Documents Photo: John Myers

An exclusive interview with Alicia Lewis, who found herself the unwitting victim of the Sarah Palin attack machine during the Palin Stanislaus speech shakedown. Sen. Leland Yee (D-SF) and others were wondering, among many other questions regarding the university’s transparency and financial dealings, why Palin’s speaking fees for her June 25 engagement were not being disclosed per the state’s public records law. In the course of following a lead about documents which were being disposed of suspiciously, Ms. Lewis stumbled into the middle of another Palin drama and found herself being labeled a “dumpster diver and “political operative” by Sarah Palin during Palin’s nationally streamed speech last weekend.

Sarah Jones: Give me a little background info — your major, where you grew up, etc. I believe your major is poly-sci, which is interesting. Has this experience impacted your ideas about politics or decision to go into that field?

Alicia Lewis: I just received my BA in Political Science and will be entering into the Masters of Public Administration this Fall. I grew up in both Stanislaus and Merced County. I have always been interested in politics and involved within my local community. However, this experience has shown me the large amount of time and energy necessary to fully participate in this field. Not to mention it has demonstrated the dark under belly of politics such as the hate mail and public scrutiny.

This entire experience while discouraging and frustrating at first has actually strengthened my commitment to enter into the political world. I have seen firsthand how the actions of a few college students can turn into an international talking point and that it is possible to get your message out.

Sarah Jones: How did you get involved in finding Palin’s contract?

Alicia Lewis: A little background explanation: After it was publicized that our school had invited Sarah Palin to speak at our 50th anniversary gala there was a California Public Records Request for any information regarding expenditures related to the event. Our school denied having any documents citing the schools Foundation was separate from the University itself and not subject to disclosure laws. Several emails surfaced demonstrating that the school was not being truthful.

Fast forward to dumpster issue:

Ashli Briggs (other student who went public) received a tip that documents were being destroyed from a reliable source. It was said that documents were being destroyed in the administration building. This was a red flag to those of us Ashli informed because we knew the college was supposed to be closed that day. Myself and several other students went down to the campus and noticed that only the admin parking lot had cars and there seemed to be activity taking place in the locked/closed building. We waited and watched for a while, noting that garbage was being taken out to the different dumpsters.

Out of intuition/curiosity/boredom we opened the bins. One was filled with whole intact documents and a bag of shredded paperwork. We saw the headers were all from the University financial services and thought it was odd they were cleaning out offices on a closed campus day so we took the documents. Not knowing what we would end up finding. After looking through the stacks of paperwork we found pages 4-9 of what appeared to be the Palin contract. It was mixed with all University paperwork and in our opinion demonstrated that our school did violate the CA Public Records Request.

Palin Mocking Those Who Called Her on PalmGate at Stanislaus
Palin Mocking Those Who Called Her on PalmGate at Stanislaus

Sarah Jones: Sarah Palin accused you of being a “political operative” during her Stanislaus speech. Can you talk about what your intentions were when you found the shredded contracts and what your reaction was when you heard Palin’s spin on your intentions? Palin seems to be saying that you could not have had a motive other than political differences. Do you agree with her characterization?

Alicia Lewis: At the time we found the documents our intention was to find out what the heck was going on a closed campus day. All we knew was that our campus administration has been under constant criticism for decisions and actions it has made in recent years plus we had a tip from an alarmed source making us even more concerned that something fishy was taking place. We did not know it would lead us in the direction of anything concerning Sarah Palin.

When I heard what Palin said about those that found the documents I was immediately furious. I know both myself and Ashli Briggs have consistently stated that this was an issue about transparency and have advocated that changes be made in the CSU system regarding how donor money is handled.

I always made a point to not make a criticism about Palin because I knew it would undermine the argument we were making and would only add to the political divide already taking place in our community. So to hear Palin making such a bold statement was a demonstration that her only goal is to create a wide political divide.

She took the situation and made it solely about her instead of focusing on the REAL issue. It seems to be part of her gimmick, show how “the left” is attacking her from all sides and she is the victim (don’t forget to add in the catchy phrases!). All the while she ignores the real issues and topics being discussed….wait never mind I’m sure she has an out of context quote to use to help her seem knowledgeable. Considering that she presents everything as black or white (American or un-American) I am not surprised that she said it’s all about political differences because that’s all she knows.

I disagree with her characterization about me entirely, she obviously did not look into or comprehend what was being said and should maybe try thinking before speaking.

Sarah Jones: I’ve read and talked with many people who have had similar encounters with Sarah Palin. She is often described as a “rabid” “vindictive” person. What did you know about Palin before this entire episode and how has your notion of her changed since you have had personal experience with her? How would you characterize her now? Would you vote for her now? How do you feel about the idea of her being President — how do you think she would handle that sort of power?

Alicia Lewis: Prior to this debacle I was fairly familiar with Sarah Palin (due to her VP run) and had read about the various accusations regarding misconduct and abuse of power while governor of Alaska. I had seen her interviews and heard her speeches so my view of her was already very low.

I already felt that she was doing a disservice to not only women but also to the American people that believe her banter. After this experience I dislike her even more, she has shown herself to be self serving and completely dependent on using cute (I use that term loosely) phrases in a condescending tone in order to convince people that what she’s saying is right.

You asked if I would vote for her? Absolutely not.

The idea of her being President is terrifying. She is narrow minded and has emphasized the agenda that (she) wishes to push on the country as a whole. I think she would handle presidential power poorly because she has already shown a disdain for higher learning belittling the experts that tend to advise presidents. Whom would she be relying on for knowledge on specific issues? Todd?

Sarah Jones: Do you consider what Palin said about you irresponsible? Were there consequences for you, in terms of challenges or obstacles you had to overcome due to her decision to point fingers at you during a national speech?

Alicia Lewis: I consider most of what Palin says to be irresponsible. She has a strong influence over so many people that it’s scary knowing that she is going around labeling those who disagree with her as un-American or not part of “Real America”. Since this entire situation has taken place there has been the negative outpouring from her supporters it seemed to slow down until her speech which only reignited their desire to send hate filled messages to college students.

Sarah Jones: Talk a bit about how this experience has changed you. Are you more or less engaged in politics now? Do you see our political landscape differently than you did before?

Alicia Lewis: I am more engaged now with politics since this situation took place because it allowed me to meet some wonderful people in my community. I am more cynical now because I have seen how opportunistic people can be and that I need to be aware of what other people’s intentions are.

I was already skeptical about our political landscape but now I have seen how divided we have made ourselves and I believe very unnecessarily. When talking with people about the transparency issue I saw that with good conversation and explanation those from all over the political spectrum can agree on issues. We just have to get past the political mouthpieces that are going around the country spewing misinformation.

Sarah Jones: Have you spoken with Senator Yee about this situation? He was threatened by Palin fans after he attempted to get to the bottom of the transparency issue, is this something you are concerned about now?

Alicia Lewis: I have spoken with the Senator and he has shown such kindness regarding this whole situation. All of us are still on the same page regarding the senate bill (SB 330) that we want to see passed in California in order to prevent mishandling of funds in our CSU/UC system. I am always going to be slightly concerned that some crazed supporter of Palin will say or do something however, I can’t let that stop me from advocating for the school system which I am a part of.

Sarah Jones: Talk about what you most wish people knew about this situation — the thing you feel people most misunderstand who were not a part of it.

Alicia Lewis: I wish that people understood that this was never about Palin, that we as students have legitimate concerns about how our school system operates in California and are completely determined to make changes. We have had academic programs and budgets cut, our tuition increased, and faculty being laid off. Constantly being told that we all need to be fiscally responsible yet the college Foundations which are responsible for 1 billion dollars of donor money throughout the state are not given any oversight and have had scandals leak out of blatant financial waste and irresponsibility.

While our intention was not to go after Palin it did show a side of her that I think people should recognize as unhealthy for our country and ignoring this insight would be irresponsible. We need to stop with dividing ourselves over every issue; there is a lot that we can agree on. We have allowed political mouthpieces to speak and think for us and this has left much of the country dependent on their favorite TV personality to formulate their opinion.

It would be naïve for me to argue that we can all get along and have consensus on our most divisive issues but it does not have to be as bad as we make it. If we stop with the tag lines and sound bites we might be able to have a legitimate conversation. Until then we will be stuck having people like Palin determining the opinion and political course our country takes.

Alicia Lewis with CSU Stanislaus' Suspiciously Shredded Documents
Alicia Lewis with CSU Stanislaus' Suspiciously Shredded Documents

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42 Replies to “Alicia Lewis: Victim of the Sarah Palin Attack Machine Speaks Out”

  1. I had no idea that this dumpster diving issue was tied in with the issue of how the college handles the money. I do remember reading about Sen. Yee and the transparency issues. as far as that goes I think all colleges could do with some investigating. Especially where state money is concerned.

    It is true that Sarah thinks this is all about her. and it is typical right wing punditry to simply attack people without admitting the facts. I am relatively sure that Sarah had no idea what the real reasons for her being outed were. I am relatively sure that she still doesn’t.

    Ms. Lewis is right. The idea of Sarah being in the office of the president is terrifying. The idea of her just visiting the White House is terrifying.

  2. Thanks Shiva. It was a real treat to interview such a courageous, intelligent person as Ms Lewis and I thought her experience best exemplified just how destructive the Palin attack machine can be. Strike first, think later (or never). Very scary.

  3. Interesting article. I didn’t have to read it to know that these young ladies got a piece of the Palin hatchet job. Palin is dangerous, and will stop at nothing to get revenge. If she and her family end up in the white house she will never get anything done because she would be to busy plotting to get revenge against whoever was mean with her that day. God help that person. She puts mean girl to a whole new dimension. She only handles being worshipped.

  4. For those who have followed Palin’s career, this comes as no surprise at all, that’s for sure.

    I was glad to have an insider’s POV, though, especially because Palin has the bully platform while her victims do not have the same access to a platform.

    She’s exceptionally Nixonian.

  5. Excellent responses from Alicia Lewis. This is a young woman who’ll go far, and she’ll do it on intellect and character.

  6. One question. For how many other speakers have you demanded the speaker’s fee amount be released,Hmmmmmmmmmm It’s all about Palin and only Palin. Who are you trying to fool with this drivel!

  7. Alicia…

    You are 100 times smarter than Palin….maybe YOU should run for President. At least you have a brain, and don’t sound nasty, snarky and vindictive.

    Thank you for the great interview.

  8. Alicia Lewis is an outstanding example of today’s young adults. In spite of being on the receiving end of Palin’s legendary mean-spirited vindictiveness, she will continue to press on. Sarah, your interview with Lewis was excellent and quite revealing of how Palin views any dissent against her as a personal attack. It does even more to show exactly why Palin should never be allowed to get anywhere near a position of political power–least of all as president. It also reveals Lewis as having the intelligence and integrity so lacking in Palin.

    I was personally incensed at learning that while the students’ tuition has been increased, the university tried to hide the fact that they were willing to pay an
    exorbitant fee for this know-nothing’s content-free screechfest. Unfortunately for the university, which ended up with egg on its collective face, the so-called
    “dumpster diving” students questioned their actions. Education is supposed to teach people to think, and that is just what Alicia Lewis, Ashli Briggs, and others did. I fervently hope that a law will be passed demanding transparency on issues like this in the future.

  9. Alicia, you are my hero. Sarah, excellent interview! Thank you for giving Alicia the platform to set the record straight. Alicia’s cogent analysis of this whole, ugly situation is exactly what was needed.

  10. Palin is simply part of the Fox/Rush/WSJ/Big corporations attempt at taking the right ever further right. This is a great read. You’ll have to cut and paste it since this site doesn’t allow links.

    alternet.org/news/147307/the_tea_party_is_dangerous:_dispelling_7_myths_that_help_us_avoid_reality_about_the_new_right-wing_politics/?page=1

  11. Great interview Sarah of a intelligent,articulate brave young woman!
    And as far as Sarah Palins “speech” (I use the term loosely) her calling Alica & Asli “Dumpster divers” & “political operatives” was unconscionable…!
    And for the President of the school to allow this????? WTF?
    But the comments at the end of the screechfest were the best:
    “Oh my god I feel like I just stepped off of a roller coaster! Go round and round and up and down and shit flying out of everywhere and standing. Remember when you had to write a report as a college student and you just tried to jam in as many quotes as possible? You know, from as many random things you could get, you know, that’s what I got.
    I got she didn’t ever finish a statement.
    Right.
    (?)
    Did she make a statement? Cause I didn’t catch that either.
    I think she said, “Hi” and “Thanks”.
    To think she could even quote Kennedy.
    Twice.
    Hey, I’m really sorry the cam, the feed died.
    No, no, yeah. Pfft.
    Yeah, after 8 hours.
    It just shut off.
    You guys have a tough job; I don’t know how you’re going to make a story out of that.
    Well… that’s the story.
    Now I know the dumbness doesn’t come from just soundbites.
    *****
    Now THAT made the screechfest worth watching!
    And Sarah Palin and the President of CSU owe these two Women a apology!

  12. Sarah: Thanks so much for all that you do. I wanted to post right after the CSU Stanislaus “ordeal” and wonderful live blogging you did but wasn’t able to get onto the site. You were great and we all appreciate the work you are doing.
    Alicia is an amazing young woman and her family should be very proud.

    She did nothing wrong – she simply got caught in the gusher Palin who spews filth and venom over anyone who “catches” her up to her usual grifting tricks.

    Alicia … be proud! There is something very weird going on at your school. It needs to be exposed – perhaps with the IRS investigating that Foundation.

    Good luck – may you have a wonderful future!!!!

  13. Thanks so much Basheert and I am sorry about the site — we got slammed that night and the next day with traffic so it was hard for some people to get in.

    I really appreciate your comment and everyone here’s support for Ms Lewis — she did nothing but try to do the right thing and ended up smack in the middle of a Palin attack.

    Ms Lewis’s idealism, commitment and perseverance exemplify a great American spirit. I hope we see her in future politics.

  14. Read for content. The students went to the school to see if what they had heard about documents being shredded was true. They saw the school buildings occupied when they were supposed to be closed. They waited to see what would happen and noticed trash being tossed. They went and got it. They had no idea anything concerning the Palin was even in that bunch of trash until they found the few pages of her contract.
    It was and is not about Palin, it is about the lack of transparency in California colleges in regards to money.

  15. You are not l i s t e n i n g.

    The university has a history of not being transparent. They started cutting back scholarships. Teachers were laid off.

    STUDENTS WHO WERE MAJORING IN POLITICAL SCIENCE decided to hold them accountable. During the course of keeping an eye on them, they found these documents which

    JUST SO HAPPENED TO CONTAIN SARAH PALIN’S SPEAKING FEE.

    See, Senator Yee and Alicia Lewis are not the same people. You might want to read again to make sure you understand exactly what happened before you get your emotions all jacked up for poor Sarah Palin.

  16. i have nothing but respect for those two young scholars. i wish them all the best. mat the future be kind to them.

  17. Great interview, Sarah Jones.

    Ms. Lewis’s obvious intellect, maturity, and integrity put Ms. Palin’s lack thereof to shame.

    Best wishes. Ms. Lewis. Our country needs young people such as you who have true integrity and a passion to be involved with our constitutionally provided “citizens’ government.”

  18. Trig has Down Syndrome. Sarah Palin is retarded. Great interview, Ms. Jones. Ms. Briggs and Ms. Lewis have a bright future, in or out of politics.

  19. I was able to personally attend the CSU Event and got to speak to both Ashli and Alicia and to document the events of the day with the pics posted on Palingates.These are two very bright young ladies with good heads on their shoulders. Exactly the type of women S.Palin loves to hate. It’s probably the jealousy factor there. SP knows she can’t compete.As well as SP mocking these students for doing what SHE told them to do…”not sitting down and shutting up ” …and resorting to childish name calling, the fact that the Foundation and the Dinner guests thinking this was ‘ funny ‘ is rather troubling. There was a Media Group on-site there that day as well called “Conservative New Media” doing interviews. You will notice C4P has become their best friend this week as a tool to spread propaganda and a message on YouTube. They are their new BFF’s. CNM in this clip interviewed the State Senator ( Jeff Dedham) from that District where the Campus is and also seemed to mock Alicia and the other students for speaking up. Saying that it was the Foundation was looking out for the Students and portraying the students as whiners.So, you have SP, the Foundation and they have enlisted the help of Senator Dedham to try to malign these girls for standing up and speaking out for what is wrong.I think this would be what Alicia described as the ” cynical & skeptical ” side of Politics. Here is the Senators interview with CNM.I hope Ashli and Alicia watch and share this clip with the other students.

  20. Great interview, Sarah.

    I’ve written a lot about Palin over the years, little about the CSU Stanislaus affair. But I am going to base an article about the CSUS debacle on this interview now that I’ve read what Alicia has written. Her observations are so counter to what has been written about Alicia and Ashli Briggs at places like the Sea of Pee, freerepublic and so on, and to Palin’s comments in her speech there itself, it is almost ridiculously refreshing to read Alicia’s common sense.

    My son is in the CSU system – at Humboldt State, which is probably the college Palin thought Reagan attended, as it is a dozen miles or so from Eureka. Dim, eh?

  21. Good interview, Ms. Jones. Ms. Lewis, your integrity and intelligence come shining through. I wish you a great future, and look forward to seeing more of you in politics. We need more people who can concentrate on the issues and work cooperatively toward solutions.

    As for Ms. Palin, many of us in Wasilla continue to be embarrassed by her lack of education, common sense, and manners. There are intelligent women here with class, she just isn’t one of them.

  22. I hope you do, as it doesn’t strike me as reasonable at all to have powerful political figures pointing the fingers at citizens who have no corresponding voice.

    Please contact me here via the Politicususa@gmail.com account if you have any questions.

    Dim Sum, the meal of choice I’m sure:-)

  23. I don’t find Sarah The Sell-it-brity terrifying. She’s just a bad joke that’s gone on too too long.

  24. I agree with you when you say that these young women have a bright future. But the insulting of Trig and the use of the word “retarded” are unwarranted. Unnecessary remarks about Palin’s appearance and Trig’s disability just give ammunition to her rabid defenders, who show that they are impervious to reasoning and logic. What Palin does in her private life is her business, but her public statements and appearances are fair game for justifiable critiques.

  25. In many articles that I read about the speech to be held at CSU Stanislaus, the general idea was that they were not responsible to the University in regards to answering questions about Palin’s speech, etc. because University funds were not being used to pay her fee and expenses. There were several articles that said that the funds raised would not go to scholarships while others said they will. After the speech, however, there were so many pro-Palin sites singing her praises for raising $200k for the Univeristy scholarships. However, they overlook the fact that $80k of that money came directly from foundation board members, not to mention the expenses of security and fencing that were incurred to have this divisive anti-intellectual former governor speak.

    Will the money raised go to scholarships as has been said, if so, do you know what portion of it? If not, where will the money be used?

    Sarah, what an excellent and revealing interview with Alicia. She holds herself up to be admired and as a student to be emulated. She is the type of person we seek to have hold office in the future, not Palin. The thought of her anywhere near the White House is terrifying indeed.

  26. The Caribou Bimbo is nothing more than an IDIOT, trying to pretend she is something special. Well she is something special, she is what comes out the south end of a north bound elephant, and boy does it stink!!! This bimbo does not even belong in politics, all she cares about is making all the money she can till her 15 mins of fame is up, and IT IS COMING!!!!!

  27. I applaud you Ms. Lewis. You’d think the uneducated one would DO something honorable just once to show she might have a human side. Like maybe give your speaking fee to the college students! Nah..I didn’t think so. This is the 2nd time this woman had to be schooled by a younger lady. First, the down syndrome girl when Sarah used that for her own self pity. She is one disgusting woman.

  28. I applaud you Ms. Lewis. You’d think the uneducated one would DO something honorable just once to show she might have a human side. Like maybe give her speaking fee to the college students! Nah..I didn’t think so. This is the 2nd time this woman had to be schooled by a younger lady. First, the down syndrome girl when Sarah used that for her own self pity. She is one disgusting woman.

  29. What a great post — excellent interview questions and an intelligent, thoughtful and informative response.

    Sarah Palin’s snarky and self-centered depiction of Alicia’s activism was a new low for her but the audience’s appreciative applause struck me as even more disgusting.

    My best wishes and appreciation to Alicia, Ashli and any others who are working with them for transparency at CSUS.

  30. Palin’s fans create ammunition out of thin air and lies.

    With all due respect, the desire to censor other people’s comments is right in step with Palin’s personal fascist dogma on free speech (who can engage in it and what they should or should not say).

  31. While you have shown undeniable facts about how Palin and her fans are always attempting their own version of censorship, and how they conjure up lies, I still believe in keeping children out of this. Trust me, I couldn’t care less about Palin. But Trig is an innocent child who deserves all the help he can get instead of having been used as a prop by his mother.

  32. Good article. Thank you.

    Interesting to see a photo of Ms. Palin in front of a sign reading Vox Veritas Vita.

    sas

  33. FIRST-What a great interview. SECOND-It is so Ironic that Palin played this entire situation “Up” the way she did. If Palin had any moral compass or political sense when this story first hit the press, she could and should have turned around and donated her speaking fee into scholorships that would be made available to the students who lost their tuition. Consider what great PRESS she could have gotten!? Instead, She turns it all around and embellishs it in such an absurb way, then sics her CULT on a Senator and 2 students. To the point of threats being thrown around!?!? Then, during her speech at this College, she thinks its “CUTESY” to insult the very students that were just trying to do the right thing. You just can’t make this kind of shit up if you tryed!!! I keep thinking that Palin just can’t shock me anymore BUT this is THE TEFLON QUEEN PALIN and she just keeps one-upping her audacity and stupidity and keeps getting away with it. I cannot wait until KARMA catches up with her. I want a front row seat!

  34. I don’t know that it actually was “all about Sarah”, although it certainly is a scheme that continues to work well for her. I tend to believe that she’s smart enough to know keeping the financial records of the Foundation opaque is at this point a legally excellent way to launder slush funds. The woman is crazy like a fox, and I tend to think that it does everyone a disservice to underestimate her intelligence. Mean spirited and vindictive? Yes. Easily manipulated by money? Yes. But unaware of where the money comes from? I think not.

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