Todd Palin

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Todd Palin
Todd Palin 2010 Time 100 Shankbone.jpg
Palin at the 2010 Time 100 Gala
First Gentleman of Alaska
In role
December 4, 2006 – July 26, 2009
GovernorSarah Palin
Preceded byNancy Murkowski
(First Lady)
Succeeded bySandra Parnell
(First Lady)
First Gentleman of Wasilla
In office
October 14, 1996 – October 14, 2002
MayorSarah Palin
Personal details
Todd Mitchell Palin

(1964-09-06) September 6, 1964 (age 57)
Dillingham, Alaska, U.S.
Political partyIndependent
(m. 1988; div. 2020)
Children5, including Bristol[1]
ResidenceWasilla, Alaska, U.S.
OccupationOil field production worker[2]
Commercial fisherman
Snowmobile racer

Todd Mitchell Palin (born September 6, 1964)[3] is an American oil field production operator and commercial fisherman who was the first gentleman of Alaska from 2006 to 2009. He is the ex-husband of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee with John McCain.

Early life and education[edit]

Palin was born and raised in Dillingham, Alaska to James F. "Jim" and Blanche Palin (née Roberts).[4][5] Palin has Yup'ik (from a great-grandmother), Dutch, and English ancestry.[6][7]

In 1982, Palin graduated from Wasilla High School, which is the same alma mater of his wife and their eldest two children, son Track and daughter Bristol. He has taken some college courses but did not complete a degree.[5]


Palin was a union member and belonged to the United Steelworkers union.[8]

For eighteen years, he worked for BP in the North Slope oil fields of Alaska. In 2007, in order to avoid a conflict of interest that related to his wife's position as governor, he took a leave[9] from his job as production supervisor, when his employer became involved in natural gas pipeline negotiations with his wife's administration.[5] Seven months later, because the family needed more income, Todd returned to BP. In order to avoid potential conflict of interest, this time, he accepted a non-management position as a production operator.[2][9] He resigned from his job on September 18, 2009, with the stated reason as a desire to spend more time with his family.[10]

He is also a commercial salmon fisherman at Bristol Bay on the Nushugak River.[5]

Public life[edit]

Voter registration[edit]

Palin first registered to vote in 1989. From October 1995 through July 2002, except for a few months in 2000, he was registered to vote as a member of the Alaskan Independence Party.[11] In late August 2008, The Politico reported that Palin was registered to vote as an independent (undeclared), and had never registered as a Republican.[12] His wife, Sarah, confirmed that he is not registered with any party both in her 2009 memoir, Going Rogue: An American Life, and in a Q&A session following a 2010 address to a national convention of the Tea Party in Nashville, Tennessee.[13][14]

First gentleman of Alaska[edit]

Palin was the first gentleman, or "first dude," as he was often nicknamed,[15] for two and a half years, from 2006 to 2009. Early on in that role, he encouraged young Alaskans who could not afford college to consider jobs in the oil and gas industry as an effective training ground, and advised the governor on workforce development issues for the natural gas pipeline she supported.[16]

In February 2010, the state of Alaska released to reporter Bill Dedman about 1,200 e-mails, which totaled 3,000 pages, that Palin exchanged with state officials. Almost 250 additional ones were withheld by the state, under a claim that executive privilege extends to Palin as an unpaid adviser to the government.[17] Gregg Erickson, columnist for the Anchorage Daily News, said, in September 2008, that Palin "obviously plays an important role ... I've seen him in the governor's office and I know that she's conducted interviews in the governor's office with him present".[18] The emails showed Palin discussing a wide range of activities: potential board appointees, constituent complaints, use of the state jet, oil and gas production, marine regulation, gas pipeline bids, wildfires, native Alaskan issues, the state effort to save the Matanuska Maid dairy, budget planning, potential budget vetoes, oil shale leasing, "strategy for responding to media allegations," staffing at the mansion, per diem payments to the governor for travel, "strategy for responding to questions about pregnancy," potential cuts to the governor's staff, "confidentiality issues," Bureau of Land Management land transfers and trespass issues and requests to the U.S. transportation secretary.[19][20]


As of late 2009, Palin was a community volunteer who worked in youth sports, coaching hockey and basketball.[21] He was a judge in the 2008 Miss Alaska pageant.[22]

In August 2012, Palin became a contestant on the NBC celebrity reality competition series Stars Earn Stripes.[23]

Thoroughbred racehorse First Dude, named after Palin's nickname, finished second at the 2010 Preakness Stakes and won the 2011 Hollywood Gold Cup.

Champion snowmobile racer[edit]

Palin is a four-time champion of the Tesoro Iron Dog, the world's longest snowmobile race,[16][24] which traces the path of the Iditarod race with an extra journey of several hundred miles to Fairbanks added.

Palin has competed in the Tesoro every year since 1993.[16] His racing teammate is Scott Davis, with whom he won in 2007.[25] He has previously raced with Dusty Van Meter in the race, and they were co-champions in 2000 and 2002.[26] In 1995, Palin partnered with Dwayne Drake for his first win.[26]

In 2008, 400 miles (640 km) from defending his Tesoro Iron Dog championship, he was injured and broke his arm[27] when he was thrown 70 feet[28] from his machine.[29] He was sent to the hospital but managed to finish in fourth place.[30]

In 2016, trying for another Tesoro Iron Dog championship, he was forced to scratch at checkpoint Nenana, 112 miles from the finish, when partner Shane Barber suffered engine trouble.[31][32]

In March 2016, Palin was seriously injured in a snowmobile crash, suffering a collapsed lung, fractured ribs, and a broken clavicle and shoulder blade.[33]

Public Safety commissioner controversy[edit]

Palin's name has appeared in news reports regarding the firing of commissioner Walt Monegan and the actions of Alaska state trooper Mike Wooten.[34][35][36] At one point, Todd Palin brought information prepared by himself and a private investigator to Monegan.[34]

On September 12, 2008, the Alaska legislature subpoenaed Palin to testify on his role in the controversy.[37] On September 18, the McCain/Palin campaign announced that Todd Palin would refuse to testify because he does not believe the investigation is legitimate.[38] State senator Bill Wielechowski said that the witnesses could not be punished for disobeying the subpoenas until the full legislature comes into session, then scheduled to be in January 2009.[38]

On October 10, 2008, Palin was cited in special investigator Stephen Branchflower's report[39] to the Legislative Council. One of Branchflower's four main findings was that the governor had violated Alaska's ethics act when she "wrongfully permitted Todd Palin to use the governor's office ... to continue to contact subordinate state employees in an effort to find some way to get trooper Wooten fired".[40][41] Todd Palin's conduct was not assessed in the report, as he was not an executive branch employee.[42]

Personal life[edit]

In August 1988, Palin eloped with his high-school girlfriend Sarah Heath.[43] The Palins have five children: Track Charles James (b. 1989), who has enlisted in the United States Army and deployed to Iraq on September 11, 2008; Bristol Sheeran Marie (b. 1990);[44] Willow Bianca Faye (b. 1994); Piper Indy Grace (b. 2001);[16] and Trig Paxson Van (b. 2008), who has Down syndrome;[45][46][47] and seven grandchildren.[48]

Palin fishes and holds a Private Pilot Certificate.[49][50] He also owns his own aircraft, a Piper PA-18 Super Cub.[51]

Palin's stepmother, Faye Palin, ran unsuccessfully in 2002 for the position of mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, to succeed Palin's wife, who was term-limited. Faye Palin, who is pro-choice and a registered Democrat, lost to Dianne M. Keller, a candidate endorsed by Sarah Palin.[52]

Palin filed for divorce from Sarah on August 29, 2019, citing "incompatibility of temperament".[53] The divorce was finalized on March 23, 2020.[54][55]


  1. ^ New York Times staff. "Times Topics, People, Sarah Palin". Biography. Retrieved May 30, 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Palin carved her own path in Alaska – International Herald Tribune". Retrieved September 2, 2008.[dead link]
  3. ^ Martin, Jonathan (September 6, 2008). "Todd Palin: A celebrity in his own right". Jonathan Martin's Blog. Retrieved September 7, 2008.
  4. ^ "What's Palin's Record on Native Issues?". Reznet. September 2, 2008. Retrieved July 12, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d Lee, Jeannette J. (May 27, 2007). "Todd Palin unique among nation's 5 first husbands". Anchorage Daily News (AP). Archived from the original on June 12, 2008. Retrieved August 29, 2008.
  6. ^ Cooper, Carolyn Kraemer (2011). Sarah Palin: A Biography. ABC-CLIO. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-313-37738-9.
  7. ^ Even if Palin weren't running, this'd be a great Alaska tale | McClatchy DC
  8. ^ Kizzia, Tom (August 29, 2008). "In Alaska, Palin known for battling against long odds". McClatchy Newspapers. Archived from the original on September 2, 2008. Retrieved August 29, 2008.
  9. ^ a b Yardley, William (August 29, 2008). "Sarah Heath Palin, an Outsider Who Charms". Retrieved August 30, 2008.
  10. ^ D'Oro, Rachel. "Todd Palin resigns from oil job". Archived from the original on October 7, 2009. Retrieved October 8, 2009.
  11. ^ Tapper, Jake (September 2, 2008). "Todd Palin, Longtime Former AIP Member". ABC News. Retrieved September 2, 2008.
  12. ^ Vogel, Kenneth (August 29, 2008). "Palin's hubby and son not Republicans". The Politico. Retrieved September 3, 2008.
  13. ^ Palin, Sarah (November 17, 2009). Going Rogue: An American Life. New York City: HarperCollins. p. 384. ISBN 978-0-06-193989-1. My husband ... isn't registered with any party, for sound reasons, having been an eyewitness to the idiosyncrasies of party machines
  14. ^ A C-SPAN video posted on YouTube of the address and Q&A following the address. The video was posted on February 6, 2010, and the quote about Todd Palin being registered to vote as an independent appears at 50:20 into the video
  15. ^ Zernike, Katie (September 3, 2008). "Todd Palin: 'First dude' and right-hand man". New York Times. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  16. ^ a b c d Lee, Jeanette (May 6, 2007). "'First dude' probably doesn't host many teas". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 29, 2008.
  17. ^ Dedman, Bill (February 7, 2009). "Palin e-mails reveal a powerful 'first dude'". NBC News. Retrieved February 9, 2009.
  18. ^ Madden, Mike (September 2008). ""Sarah Palin's powerful "First Dude"". Salon. Archived from the original on September 18, 2008.
  19. ^ Dedman, Bill (February 5, 2010). "Palin e-mails reveal a powerful 'first dude'; In Sarah Palin administration, her spouse was active in state business". NBC News.
  20. ^ The e-mails are available in an online searchable database Archived February 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine from
  21. ^ "National Governors Association". Archived from the original on February 17, 2007. Retrieved August 29, 2008.
  22. ^ "Miss Alaska Scholarship Pageant". Retrieved August 31, 2008.
  23. ^ de Moraes, Lisa (June 19, 2012). "Todd Palin among those competing in NBC's reality series 'Stars Earn Stripes'". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  24. ^ Fritze, John (August 29, 2008). "Friends: VP choice has 'very strong' values". USA Today. Retrieved August 29, 2008.
  25. ^ "Todd Palin: Featured First Husband". Archived from the original on September 17, 2008. Retrieved August 29, 2008.
  26. ^ a b "Tesoro Iron Dog". Archived from the original on May 13, 2008. Retrieved August 29, 2008.
  27. ^ Mowry, Tim (February 18, 2008). "Despite broken arm, First Dude crosses Iron Dog finish in fourth". Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Archived from the original on August 31, 2008. Retrieved August 30, 2008.
  28. ^ Medred, Craig (February 15, 2008). "Todd Palin crashes in Iron Dog". Anchorage Daily News. Archived from the original on September 2, 2008. Retrieved August 29, 2008.
  29. ^ "Todd Palin receives minor injuries near Iron Dog checkpoint". Archived from the original on December 27, 2008. Retrieved August 29, 2008.
  30. ^ "Tesoro Iron Dog". Archived from the original on May 11, 2008. Retrieved August 29, 2008.
  31. ^ "Iron Dog 2016 Race Coverage…Race to Fairbanks!".
  32. ^ "NBC Nightly New Twitter Feed".
  33. ^ Todd Palin suffers collapsed lung, fractured ribs after crash, WTSP News, March 15, 2016
  34. ^ a b "Monegan to Palin: 'Ma'am, I Need to Keep You at Arm's Length' – Washington Post Investigations". Retrieved September 2, 2008.
  35. ^ Michael Luo (August 29, 2008). "Investigators Are Looking at Governor About Firing". Retrieved August 31, 2008.
  36. ^ Philip Sherwell and Tim Shipman (August 30, 2008). "Sarah Palin poses 'Troopergate' risk to John McCain's US election bid". Telegraph. London. Retrieved August 31, 2008.
  37. ^ Yardley, William (September 13, 2008). "Active Role for Palin's Husband in Alaska Government". New York Times.
  38. ^ a b Volz, Matt (September 18, 2008). "Palin's husband refuses to testify in probe". Anchorage Daily News. Archived from the original on September 19, 2008. Retrieved September 18, 2008.
  39. ^ Stephen Blanchflower Report to the Legislative Council Alaska Legislature, pdf download. October 10, 2008. Retrieved November 16, 2010.
  40. ^ "Troopergate Report: Palin Abused Power". October 11, 2008. Retrieved November 16, 2010.
  41. ^ Blanchflower Report, p. 66
  42. ^ Blanchflower Report, p. 68
  43. ^ Grier, Peter (August 30, 2008). "Sarah Palin, McCain's pick, forged maverick political path in Alaska". Christian Science Monitor. Archived from the original on September 5, 2008. Retrieved September 24, 2008.
  44. ^ Quinn, State of Alaska. "3PA-07-08535MO State of Alaska vs. Palin, Bristol S". Alaska Trial Court Cases. Archived from the original on July 9, 2009. Retrieved September 3, 2008.
  45. ^ "Mahalo facts on Trig Palin".
  46. ^ "Welcome to Alaska, Trig Paxson Van Palin". Archived from the original on August 30, 2008. Retrieved August 29, 2008.
  47. ^ "Alaska governor gives birth to 5th child, a boy named Trig". Archived from the original on August 30, 2008. Retrieved August 29, 2008.
  48. ^ Slater, Georgia (November 19, 2019). "Sarah Palin's Daughter Willow Welcomes Twin Girls Banks and Blaise: 'We Are So in Love'". Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  49. ^ "National Governors Association". Archived from the original on June 27, 2007. Retrieved August 29, 2008.
  50. ^ "FAA Registry: Airmen Certification Inquiry". FAA. Archived from the original on May 27, 2010. Retrieved September 2, 2008.
  51. ^ "FAA Registry: N-Number Inquiry". FAA. Archived from the original on February 17, 2012. Retrieved September 7, 2008.
  52. ^ Thornburgh, Nathan (September 2, 2008). "Mayor Palin: A Rough Record – TIME". Archived from the original on September 2, 2008. Retrieved November 16, 2010.
  53. ^ "Sarah Palin's husband, Todd, files for divorce over 'incompatibility of temperament'". NBC News. September 9, 2019. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  54. ^ "Former VP candidate Sarah Palin finalizes divorce, records show". Today. March 2020.
  55. ^ "Sarah Palin Finalizes Divorce from Todd Palin: Docket |".

External links[edit]

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Nancy Murkowski
First Gentleman of Alaska
December 4, 2006 – July 26, 2009
Succeeded by