Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Homegate: Palin billed state for nights spent at home

The scandals just keep coming on Sarah Palin. First we have Troopergate, when Palin fired her public safety commissioner for refusing to fire an Alaskan state police officer, who was involved in a divorce with Palin's sister. Then we have the Bridge to Nowhere, where Palin first supported the Gravina Island Bridge before opposing it, and taking the federal money that was to be spend constructing the bridge to be used for other pork projects. Now we have Homegate. From the Washington Post:

ANCHORAGE, Sept. 8 -- 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.

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.

Gubernatorial spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said Monday that Palin's expenses are not unusual and that, under state policy, the first family could have claimed per diem expenses for each child taken on official business but has not done so.

The Washington Post reports that Palin charged the state a per diem for working on Thanksgiving Day, spending that day at the Great Alaska Shootout which was an annual NCAA college basketball tournament that was held in Achorage. Palin billed the state $25,000 for her daughters' expenses, and $19,000 for her husband's. According to the WaPost:

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. [State finance director Kim] Garnero said the governor's office has the authority to approve hotel stays above $300.

Asked Monday about the official policy on charging for children's travel expenses, Garnero said: "We cover the expenses of anyone who's conducting state business. I can't imagine kids could be doing that."

But 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.

Palin has charged the state for flights taking her family to trips that included "the start of the Iditarod dog-sled race and the Iron Dog snowmobile race, a contest that Todd Palin won." She has even charged the state for her husband's trips for "information gathering and planning meeting with Norther Alberta Institute of Technology." According to the WaPost:

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.

I don't know how else to say it, but Sarah Palin is corrupt. And now this corrupt woman is running for the vice president's office.

She should never be elected to the vice presidency--a heartbeat away from the Oval Office.

No comments: