Categorized | Commentary/Editorial

Frivolous Lawsuit Filed Against Sarah Palin, AP Fails Reporting Story

Last Tuesday, a man by the name of Chip Thoma filed a lawsuit against Governor Palin over an alleged "traffic conspiracy." Yes, you read that right… If you’re thinking this sounds like some sort of ridiculous frivolous complaint, you would be correct. Mr. Thoma isn’t new to Governor Palin, nor is he new to filing frivolous claims against Alaskan Governors. However, you wouldn’t know much about this case if you got all of your news from the Associated Press.

Becky Bohrer, the AP writer who covered the story, not only posted her story with an embarrassing grammatical error, but she also omitted key details from her report. She wrote:

An activist is suing Sarah Palin for at least $100,000, claiming she undertook a campaign to "punish, embarrass, discredit and silence" him while she was Alaska’s governor.

Palin’s attorney, John Tiemessen, called the complaint frivolous and said it was filed "merely for the purpose of harassment."

"The governor’s actions and statements regarding this matter are a matter of public record and governed by the long standing doctrine of executive immunity from tort claims," he said in an email late Friday. "Like all of the other harassing complaints against the governor, we anticipate that Mr. Thoma’s will be quickly and summarily dismissed."

Thoma’s attorney, James McGowan, said Thoma complained about tour bus traffic on the narrow, windy [sic] streets around the governor’s mansion. McGowan said Thoma, whom he described as a "Palin fan" at the time, sent tour operators fliers to try to encourage them to change the routes. He said Thoma also helped neighbors create yard signs against what Thoma considered the noise, pollution and congestion caused by the buses.

I think Chip Thoma was as much of a "Palin fan" as I am an Obama supporter. Of course, I’m not sure what Mr. Thoma’s voting eligibility status is after his cocaine conviction and receiving numerous DWI’s.

This all started back in May of 2009, when Chip Thoma started publicly protesting tourists visiting Juneau and the buses that drove them around the city. He claimed that Governor Palin attracted "voyeurism" due to her "notoriety," in an interview he gave to the Anchorage Daily News shortly after he sent letters to tour bus operators and started placing signs that read "Stop Local Tours" around the area of the governor’s mansion. Palin offered to meet with Thoma to see if they could work something out, but he declined the meeting. She then delivered a written statement in which she welcomed the tourists and said she "can’t imagine other areas of Alaska looking at having the Governor’s house nearby as a degrading irritation that invites voyeurism."

The current complaint from Thoma was filed as an intentional tort, meaning that he believes she caused him some sort of harm by speaking about his efforts to curb tourism to the city. Governor Palin was completely within the bounds of the law, and also her duty, to speak publicly about someone who was attacking one the state’s largest industries.

As Palin’s attorney stated in the AP article, this case will be thrown out, just as the case Chip Thoma filed against former Alaska Governor, Walter Hickel in 1997. The case of Thoma vs. Hickel is a key detail left out of Becky Bohrer’s report. Considering the complaint is of the same nature, and directed at the same seat of government, one would think this would be a relevant item to the current story.

Walter Hickel was accused of engaging in a "smear campaign" against Chip Thoma after Thoma began a recall effort against the governor. The Sierra Club joined Mr. Thoma in his effort to get Governor Hickel out of office. When Hickel’s office wrote the Sierra Club asking them why would they align themselves with a convicted felon and a serial drunk driver, Thoma cried foul over the disclosure of such information. Everything Hickel’s office stated in their letter was a matter of public record. And as was the case in 2009, "under Alaska law, public officials in the executive departments of government have either absolute or qualified immunity from tort suits." The court ruled against Thoma in this case stating:

The court holds in Part II that Hickel is entitled to qualified immunity from this suit because Thoma failed to assert a valid claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983, concluding that a 1983 claim does not reach retaliation by speech because imposition of §?1983 liability would have a chilling effect on expression protected by the First Amendment.

The court concludes that imposition of 1983 liability on a public official who “responds in kind” to protected speech critical of the official would not be consistent with the First Amendment:

Making public officials civilly liable for retaliatory speech would, in essence, convert the First Amendment model of an interchange into a one-way street. As we believe this would be fundamentally inconsistent with the values protected by the First Amendment, we conclude that no valid claim of retaliation has been asserted by Thoma.

Not only did Wally Hickel win the verdict, he was also awarded $77,865.50 in attorney’s fees. You would think that Chip Thoma would have learned his lesson on tort laws during his experience with Governor Hickel, but it’s clear that he did not. He clearly found an attorney who is willing to take his case on against Governor Palin, perhaps someone seeking some "notoriety" of their own.

Americans are sick of these sort of frivolous cases that so abuse our justice system. These things cost taxpayers money and place an unnecessary burden on to the public. We are equally tired of the shoddy reporting from the likes of the Associated Press. When they aren’t distorting and spinning facts to fit their world-view, they are disregarding key elements in stories such as this. Whether their lackluster performance at their duties are ideologically driven, or rooted in old-fashion laziness, is hard to say. The silver-lining here is that while we may be fed up with the current state of journalism, we also have other sources for information gathering available to us. Use your search engines wisely.

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  • JohnnyMcDonald

    May a bee fly up Chip Thoma’s nose.

    • ripcurl2121

      im thinking a different body hole

      • Don B

        For that hole, I’m thinking something reptilian.

  • KentonAK

    Chip Thoma is the same crazed anti-Palin lunatic who tried to shut down Piper’s lemonade stand in 2009.

    Chip Thoma = Liberal "Activist" Moonbat


    "A Juneau reader, and fan of Governor Palin (a rare breed in Juneau, I’m sure), tells me that the man behind the movement to close down Piper Palin’s lemonade stand is one Chip Thoma.

    Mr. Thoma leads a group of Juneau residents who are just "sick and tired" of the Palins and the tours that are conducted to the governor’s mansion (something that has been occurring in Juneau since the first governor took office). It seems that Governor Palin is so popular with tourists that thousands of people are walking from the docks to the governor’s mansion in an attempt to catch a glimpse of the first family. Mr. Thoma feels that this — along with Piper Palin’s lemonade stand, trampoline and buoy swing — is "bringing down the neighborhood." It seems that Mr. Thoma doesn’t enjoy the Palin children very much. Grinch."

    • Denise E. Rogers

      Seems to me that a Governor who attracts tourists to the state would be a good thing for business Maybe this guy just can’t drive drunk as easy when the streets are full with tourists.
      What a jerk.

  • footballchik1

    Nice write up. I read on Texas4Palin that this is also the same guy that had a fit about Piper’s lemonade stand.

    • Kay

      Could someone point me to any actual article where Thoma complains about Piper’s lemonade stand?

  • KentonAK

    Chip Thoma’s Bio:

    1969: The highlight of Alaska resident Chip Thoma’s life: he is given a security job at Woodstock and spends the entire concert next to the stage. (Rumors are that Chip ate the brown acid)

    1970s-80s: Chip is given several drunk-driving tests, which he fails four times over ten years. He spends time in prison following a cocaine conviction.

    2009: Chip is given to complaining about a lemonade stand run by Piper Palin, seven-year-old daughter of Alaska’s governor. He spends most days railing against tourists who want to see the governor’s mansion. Click for Sarah Palin’s brilliant reply.

  • Steph

    You gotta love the Guv…

    "I wanted to offer him to hide Piper’s trampoline further in a corner of the yard … if it’s a matter of not giving anyone anything to look at so they’ll go away then I’d ask Piper to not giggle so loudly on her buoy swing or bicycle in the yard," Palin said in a written statement, referring to her 7-year-old daughter.

    Palin said she loves Juneau and likes to see it shown off to visitors. She said that, if she had her way, there would be a big banner in front of the governor’s mansion and the Capitol building that said "Welcome, People! Locals and outside tourists — we’re glad you’re here. It’s beautiful here — Enjoy!"

    The man is ticked that she didn’t truly take him seriously, but I imagine this is more of the same kind of garbage that is rampant in the leftosphere in AK. This man’s biggest problem in this suit is that he’s on record as saying this is not about Sarah, and the fact that it was noted at the time that there had been a large reduction over the years in buses going through there.

    Well, guess it’s time to hit the Guv’s legal defense fund, again.

    • Argus_C4P

      Makes one wonder who is bankrolling this flake. Could it be the DNC again?
      Follow the money.

      • Guest

        Obama’s stash AKA taxpayer dollars.

  • HuntingMoose

    In hollywood celebreties sue tour operators for infringing on their privacy.

    So here you have a lawsuit basically suing the victim of privacy loss.

    Nuts is an understatement for this guy. Counter sue I would say

  • HuntingMoose

    Just curious how many buses come along on that road a day. 1? 2? Or more likely mostly 0 since those tour buses are related to those cruise ships and really, that is not a daily event.

    Wonder what would happen if this guy would Visit New York. Crocodile dundee anyone?

  • Steph

    Okay, sorry, this is O/T, but you’ve got to see the pic of Sarah meeting Maddow. I won’t say anything further. The pic speaks for itself.

    • Steph

      Sorry, don’t know how I missed that pic posted in the open thread. Duh.

    • ripcurl2121

      goody bin ladens dead. im sure holder and obama still want to give him a fair trial in ny

      • tingale12

        Nah, they are going to declare it a holiday.

      • Marianne

        I’m inclined to believe that the President, in order to foster better relations with followers of Islam, will declare a day of national mourning over OBL’s death. He may or may not issue an apology for the disproportional response by America’s fighting forces.

    • Don B

      If I didn’t know that was Maddow, I’d say she was chatting with a younger Martin Landow.

    • jeffo1

      That looks like a guy?

    • Vicki

      And I think that’s Andrea Mitchell in the background.
      They just can’t help themselves.

      • blueniner

        yeah you can tell by the pockmarks.

    • blueniner

      Wow at first I thought it was Woody Allen.

    • Argus_C4P

      LOL, it looks like SP is trying to keep from having to touch that. After all, who knows where Maddows been.

  • OldDude111

    Just heard that Osama Bn Laden has finally been killed…R.I.P. Twin Towers and Pentagon victims!

  • Greg Legakis


    • bamleader

      Confirmed by DNA and USA has his body. Watching right now.

  • heypiasano

    Drudge just posted " Bin Laden Dead "

    Before everyone gets wee weed up and think Obama is now a shoe in for re election. It is still 19 months away and the economy of the United States is in shambles.

    Sarah will make this, "It’s the economy stupid " just like Bill Clinton did to Bush I.

    PS. All the lieutenants of Bin Laden have been running the show for years and they still hate the United States

  • VeganPalinista

    Osama Bin Laden is dead, and we have the body! 10 years of confrontation, and we have finally gotten him!

    Anyone else want to bury him in a pig farm in the US? I know his grave would be a huge tourist attraction!

    • Vicki

      If they don’t turn over the body in 24 hrs, its some big horrible thing for Muslims, isn’t it?

    • Ryan

      In many years past, we used to put our enemies bodies in iron gallows, or their heads on spikes, to warn future aggressors from committing similar actions.

      • Guest


  • 4rcane

    I wonder if Trump can sue Obama for punishing, discredit, embarrassing and silence him? People no longer have freedom of speech to disagree with someone without being sued ROFL?

  • Vicki

    News is saying bin laden is dead

  • Vicki

    I don’t think people in Arkansas care much tonight. Our state is in disaster right now.

    • MaMcGriz

      Prayers up for you and yours back there, Vicki. I’m so sorry for what y’all are facing just now.

  • Jasmine Clark

    osama’s death deserves it’s own thread…

  • Guest

    Another Obama voter. They’ll keep on doing this because they’re operating with the same playbook—bankrupt her.

    I hope she brings a countersuit against him and bankrupts him!

  • Cathy

    I just wonder where he gets the money to pay for all these lawsuits.

  • Benthoven

    Excellent Post, Stacy! I used to work for an organization that was a frequent target of frivolous claims, and our standard, routine FIRST step was to conduct a thorough, probing investigation into the claimant’s background, personal and professional. It was almost axiomatic that the more frivolous the claim, the more criminal and deranged the claimant was in both their personal and professional lives. Yes, we did also have to go back and demand retractions and corrections in the media, often finding that the writers too, were just as corrupt and criminal. Exposing their crimes and misdemeanors by distributing press releases, articles and PR bulletins to every media outlet in the country was the customary end product of our investigations.

    Glad to see this happening to Chip Thoma, the guy is a psychopath.

  • MaMcGriz

    I can remember someone like this being declared by the court to be a ‘vexatious litigant’ after multiple filings of frivolous lawsuits meant to harass and annoy. It was his total undoing. Shut him right down.

    Oh, and just as an aside….my dog’s name is Chip.

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