(CNN) – Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's office blasted state Democrats late Monday for criticizing her decision to travel to the Midwest for speaking appearances in the closing days of the legislative session.
Her staff sent reporters an angry message with the subject line "Political Adversaries Allow Politics to Cloud Judgment in Final Week."
“It is nothing more than a politically charged shot in the dark,” Palin chief of staff Mike Nizich said in the statement. “We view the legislative session as a very serious state issue. This isn’t politics for us; this is Alaska’s future. I have worked for seven governors. Every governor has traveled during the legislative session. Had this group done its homework, they would have realized that Governor Palin has had numerous meetings with lawmakers this session and has been in constant communication with them.
“During the final week of session, legislators rarely want governors around stirring things up. We did not anticipate that the governor’s political opponents would want their hands held in the final hours of the session.”
The governor - who has opted to skip several major conservative gatherings this year, citing legislative demands - will spend half of the final three days of the session in Indiana, where she will headline a pro-life dinner and speak at an event for parents of children with Down Syndrome.
Earlier Monday, state Democratic Party chair Patti Higgins accused Palin of "putting her national political ambitions ahead of the needs of Alaska."
"Where is Sarah Palin? She is going to be halfway across the country, she’s at a right-to-life fundraiser and another event," Higgins said, according to the Anchorage Daily News. "We need a full-time governor who is thinking about our issues all the time, who is working and negotiating with the legislators and getting the job done we need done."
The governor has also come under fire from members of her own party. "There are some concerns [in the Capitol] about the focus of our chief executive because she's taken a speaking engagement in Indiana for a 36-hour period with only 72 hours left in the legislative session," state Rep. Jay Ramras of Fairbanks told the paper.
Over the weekend, Palin herself pushed back against critics of her decision. "I'll be gone for one day. I already have been on record with lawmakers on this," she told the ADN. "I told lawmakers, you know what, 'Please, don't make me feel that I have to ask you permission, lawmakers, to leave the capital city.' "
As the spring close of the Alaska's legislative session approaches, already-tense relations between the state's Republican governor and Democratic legislators have turned frosty. The governor's controversial pick for attorney general — the outspoken Wayne Anthony Ross — has not yet been confirmed.
Last week, Palin was forced to make another selection for a vacant state senate seat after Democrats rejected her first pick. By law, the governor had been required to choose a Democrat to replace Kim Elton, who's joined the Obama administration - but lawmakers rejected Tim Grussendorf, who had joined the party weeks earlier. (He said that he had been an undeclared voter mistakenly registered as a Republican.)
And Palin has repeatedly clashed with state legislators - including some members of the GOP - over her announcement that she planned to effectively reject about a third of the roughly $931 million in federal stimulus money that had been directed to Alaska, by not requesting the funds. Her office quickly said she was not rejecting the money outright, but looking for a public debate on government spending. Palin, who has made stimulus funding requests, has since said the money is still "on the table," and that she wants to come to an agreement with the legislature.