Like AIG, Sarah Palin has taken advantage of taxpayers

Posted on October 21, 2008

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First Story: AP Investigation: Alaska Funded Palin Kids’ Travel

Published: October 22, 2008

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Sarah Palin charged the state for her children to travel with her, including to events where they were not invited, and later amended expense reports to specify that they were on official business.

The charges included costs for hotel and commercial flights for three daughters to join Palin to watch their father in a snowmobile race, and a trip to New York, where the governor attended a five-hour conference and stayed with 17-year-old Bristol for five days and four nights in a luxury hotel.

In all, Palin has charged the state $21,012 for her three daughters’ 64 one-way and 12 round-trip commercial flights since she took office in December 2006. In some other cases, she has charged the state for hotel rooms for the girls.

Alaska law does not specifically address expenses for a governor’s children. The law allows for payment of expenses for anyone conducting official state business.

As governor, Palin justified having the state pay for the travel of her daughters — Bristol, 17; Willow, 14; and Piper, 7 — by noting on travel forms that the girls had been invited to attend or participate in events on the governor’s schedule.

But some organizers of these events said they were surprised when the Palin children showed up uninvited, or said they agreed to a request by the governor to allow the children to attend.

Several other organizers said the children merely accompanied their mother and did not participate. [more]

The governor’s daughters and husband charged the state $43,490 to travel, and many of the trips were between their house in Wasilla and Juneau, the capital city 600 miles away, the documents show. In separate filings, the state was billed about $25,000 for Palin’s daughters’ expenses and $19,000 for her husband’s. Flights topped the list for the most expensive items, and the daughter whose bill was the highest was Piper, 7, whose flights cost nearly $11,000, while Willow, 14, claimed about $6,000 and Bristol, 17, accounted for about $3,400.

One event was in New York City in October 2007, when Bristol accompanied the governor to Newsweek’s third annual Women and Leadership Conference, toured the New York Stock Exchange and met local officials and business executives. The state paid for three nights in a $707-a-day hotel room. 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.” The family also charged for flights around the state, including trips to Alaska events such as the start of the Iditarod dog-sled race and the Iron Dog snowmobile race, a contest that Todd Palin won.

Meanwhile, Todd Palin spent $725 to fly to Edmonton, Alberta, for “information gathering and planning meeting with Northern Alberta Institute of Technology,” according to an expense report. During the three-day trip, he charged the state $291 for his per diem. A notation said “costs paid by Dept. of Labor.” He also billed the state $1,371 for a flight to Washington to attend a National Governors Association meeting with his wife.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/…
Gov. Sarah Palin…she appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, to the $95,000-a-year directorship. A former real estate agent, Ms. Havemeister cited her childhood love of cows as a qualification for running the roughly $2 million agency. Ms. Havemeister was one of at least five schoolmates Ms. Palin hired, often at salaries far exceeding their private sector wages.

Throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, according to a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials.

Interviews show that Ms. Palin runs an administration that puts a premium on loyalty and secrecy. The governor and her top officials sometimes use personal e-mail accounts for state business; dozens of e-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that her staff members studied whether that could allow them to circumvent subpoenas seeking public records.

Professionals were either forced out or fired, Mr. Deuser said. Ms. Palin ordered city employees not to talk to the press. And she used city money to buy a white Suburban…also tended carefully to her evangelical base. She appointed a pastor to the town planning board. And she began to eye the library. For years, social conservatives had pressed the library director to remove books they considered immoral.

In addition to the trooper investigation, lawmakers in April accused her of improperly culling thousands of e-mail addresses from a state database for a mass mailing to rally support for a policy initiative.

Second Story: $150,000 to dress Sarah Palin

MSNBC

WASHINGTON – John McCain’s presidential campaign said thousands of dollars worth of clothing purchased by the Republican Party for running mate Sarah Palin will go to a “charitable purpose” after the campaign.

The Republican National Committee spent about $150,000 on clothing, hair styling, makeup and other “campaign accessories” in September for the McCain campaign after Palin, the governor of Alaska, joined the ticket.

The expenses include $75,062 spent at Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis Minn., and $41,850 in St. Louis in early September. The committee also reported spending $4,100 for makeup and hair consulting. The expenses were first reported by Politico.com.
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Third Story: Charging Alaska per diem for 312 nights sleeping in her own home

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. 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.

Fourth Story: Gov Palin sold one state plane, and used another

By Aram Roston, NBC News Producer

Governor Sarah Palin used her state law-enforcement agency’s twin-engine plane to travel around Alaska, accounting for about 20 percent of its flying time, according to a document obtained by NBC News. The police plane is a King Air turboprop that is primarily used for police-related missions and search and rescue missions. […]

 

On the campaign trail, Gov. Palin has touted her credentials as a reformer by discussing how she sold off the state’s other plane, a jet, and even listed it on eBay. Her predecessor, Gov. Frank Murkowski, had used that plane for travel.

But after Palin’s sale of the state jet following her inauguration as governor, the document shows, she did not stop flying on state planes. Gov. Palin used her Public Safety department’s prop plane for 110 hours, or 19 percent of its flight time, in 2007 and 2008. The Department of Corrections used it 28 percent of the time, and Alaska Wildlife troopers also used it 28 percent of the time.  A spokesman for the McCain Palin campaign defended the flights, saying the governor needed to use the state Public Safety plane because of the remote geography of Alaska. “For the governor to perform her duty visiting rural communities the use of an aircraft was necessary,” a campaign spokesman said.

Tensions over Gov. Palin’s use of the plane first became public last month, with the release of an affidavit by her husband, Todd Palin. “It seemed like whenever Sarah needed this plane, it was unavailable,” Todd Palin wrote.  The affidavit was submitted to investigators probing why Palin fired her Commissioner of Public Safety, Walt Monegan, earlier this year. That investigative report was released this month.

In his affidavit, Todd Palin complained that the state’s police agency was not allowing his wife to use the King Air plane. “We were concerned that the Department of Public Safety was retaliating against Sarah for selling the Murkowski jet that the Department of Public Safety officials enjoyed using,” he wrote.

Walt Monegan, in an interview with NBC earlier this month, said the plane was indeed a source of contention. “The governor would be upset if the plane was not at her disposal,” he said. “She would say, ‘I need the aircraft’ and it was at the shop.” [more]

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