by John Hawkins | September 9, 2008 8:46 am
I’ve seen liberals in the mainstream media really stretch to come up with a “scandal” before, but this latest story in the Washington Post is one of the biggest reaches I’ve ever seen.
The headline is “Palin Billed State for Nights Spent at Home Taxpayers Also Funded Family’s Travel” and it’s on page A01 of the WAPO, but quite frankly, it’s hard to figure out exactly why it’s a story that merits being written about at all.
Here’s the lead-in,
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has billed taxpayers for 312 nights spent in her own home during her first 19 months in office, charging a “per diem” allowance intended to cover meals and incidental expenses while traveling on state business.
The governor also has charged the state for travel expenses to take her children on official out-of-town missions. And her husband, Todd, has billed the state for expenses and a daily allowance for trips he makes on official business for his wife.
However, the details provided with the story render what you’ve just read a moot point,
Palin, who earns $125,000 a year, claimed and received $16,951 as her allowance, which officials say was permitted because her official “duty station” is Juneau, according to an analysis of her travel documents by The Washington Post.
…Speaking from Palin’s Anchorage office, Leighow said Palin dealt with the plane and also trimmed other expenses, including forgoing a chef in the governor’s mansion because she preferred to cook for her family. The first family’s travel is an expected part of the job, she said.
“As a matter of protocol, the governor and the first family are expected to attend community events across the state,” she said. “It’s absolutely reasonable that the first family participates in community events.”
The state finance director, Kim Garnero, said Alaska law exempts the governor’s office from elaborate travel regulations. Said Leighow: “The governor is entitled to a per diem, and she claims it.”
…Leighow said many of the hundreds of invitations Palin receives include requests for her to bring her family, placing the definition of “state business” with the party extending the invitation.
One such invitation came in October 2007, when Willow flew to Juneau to join the Palin family on a tour of the Hub Juneau Christian Teen Center, where Palin and her family worship when they are in Juneau. The state gave the center $25,000, according to a May 2008 memo.
Leighow noted that under state policy, all of the governor’s children are entitled to per diem expenses, even her infant son. “The first family declined the per diem [for] the children,” Leighow said. “The amount that they had declined was $4,461, as of August 5.”
…Gov. Palin has spent far less on her personal travel than her predecessor: $93,000 on airfare in 2007, compared with $463,000 spent the year before by her predecessor, Frank Murkowski. He traveled often in an executive jet that Palin called an extravagance during her campaign. She sold it after she was sworn into office.
So, the scandal here is supposed to be what exactly? That she actually collected expenses she was legally allowed to bill for? Again, where’s the scandal?
If anything, it looks like the WAPO buried the lede: that Sarah Palin is spending much less on travel than her predecessor and actually turned down thousands of dollars in per diem expenses from the state of Alaska that she could have collected. If that’s a “scandal,” the country would be fortunate to have all of our lawmakers engaging in that sort of “scandalous behavior.”
PS: When do we get the Washington Post story comparing Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s expenses to Sarah Palin’s? My guess is that the amount spent on either of those two over the last year dwarfs anything that Alaska had to put down to take care of the whole Palin family by at least a factor of five.
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