UPDATE: Redstates.com and other sites are now reporting that Palin’s expenses are almost 80% less than the former Governor of Alaska.
This article is so preposterous that it goes above and beyond what I often see in media bias, and when the day comes when I write a book about this subject this article from the Washington Post will feature prominently.
The last lie from the Washington Post (with no retraction) was that Palin cut funding to aid for teen mothers. Actually she increased it 225%.
At least the Washpost got one thing right:
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.
Now their claim is that Palin stole from the tax payers by charging for her expenses when she was both In Wasilla and in Juneau and by getting reiombursement for food and travel expenses for her children when she brought them with her on state business. They even have her former Democratic opponent Tony Knowles saying, “Quite the little scandal isn’t it?” in the article.
These payments are called “Per Diem” and they are typical for employees of most any business, government agency and yes even CEO..and yes even Washington Post reporters! There is nothing even close to illegal or unethical about this. The Washington Post is counting on people to not understand what covering travel and food expenses are when you are doing government business.
The WashPost says:
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.
Juneau is on an island like peninsula, totally cut off by geography, it is impossible to drive to and from Juneau and the WashPost is hoping you don’t know that. Again, to people who are unaware that Juneau is a virtual island $43,000 seems exorbitant, for an Alaska Governor it is not at all. In fact, it is downright cheap. Palin’s travel expenses amount to only a fraction of what former governors were racking up, which is especially impressive because often some of the family comes along.
Let us continue with the “charge” that Palin charged the state for her children’s travel and food expenses while doing state business….what do I have to say to that ..WELL NO DUH. When Chelsea Clinton was a minor and the Clinton’s would occasionally take her along on government business you can be sure the government payed expenses for it and that is PERFECTLY APPROPRIATE. JFK often travelled with Jackie and the children. Just because you work for the government does not mean that parents should always leave their children at home to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for themselves. It doesn’t mean that you are expected to stop being a day to day parent. There is a reason why they call it the First Family. Being a President, or a Governor or a Cabinet Official is more than a full time job, it’s an “all the time job”.
The WashPost says:
She wrote some form of “Lodging — own residence” or “Lodging — Wasilla residence” more than 30 times at the same time she took a per diem, according to the reports. In two dozen undated amendments to the reports, the governor deleted the reference to staying in her home but still charged the per diem. [HERE is the travel document Washpost points to.]
Palin charged the state a per diem for working on Nov. 22, 2007 — Thanksgiving Day. The reason given, according to the expense report, was the Great Alaska Shootout, an annual NCAA college basketball tournament held in Anchorage.
In separate filings, the state was billed about $25,000 for Palin’s daughters’ expenses and $19,000 for her husband’s.
The WashPost makes it seem college horrible doesn’t it? It is designed to, but these expenses for anyone in a CEO position (and not to mention also acts as the head of state) are not unusual in the slightest.
When a CEO or a governor has small children, when the Governor or the Governor and her husband, or the Governor and her family, have to make an appearance doing states business or acting as the “Head of State” it is normal and expected the the government will pick up all the expenses involved. It works the same way for most private companies as well. There are times when it is expected that a CEO, Governor or even a college chancellor is expected to show up to an event with their husband or wife. The state picks up these expenses as well they should.
Now lets tackle the cost of food while staying at home charge. The Governor has her home in Wasilla, where she stayed when the legislature was not in session, and she stayed in the Governor’s residence while it is in session. While Palin stayed in Wasilla, she drove to Anchorage every day to conduct state business.
The WashPost goes after Palin for charging Per Diem while she was spending the nights at her home in Wasilla, as you can see by the quote from the story above. What the Washpost hopes that many readers will not understand is that there are two kinds of per diem, travel/food and lodging. So the Governor charges per diem for travel and food while she drove to Anchorage every day to do the states business and did not charge the lodging portion of per diem while she slept in Wasilla, which is totally appropriate. WashPost tries to make it look like she did when in fact she was only charging the food and travel portion of Per Diem and inadvertently the article even says so. Pay close attention to where they say the log says under “lodging”.
Eleven parapgraphs in (knowing that most readers never make it passed the fifth paragraph) the story says:
Palin rarely sought reimbursement for meals while staying in Anchorage or Wasilla, the reports show.
When Palin ran for office when she campaigned she told the people of the state that she is an active mom and where she goes the family goes as they are a package deal and that is exactly as it should be. That is why the laws for expenses cover these things and were intended to cover them.
Says the WashPost:
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 (the governors spokesperson) 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.
I can just see it now, the governor says sorry state legislature, Todd is on the Irondog race and Piper isn’t feeling well today so I can’t come to Juneau today….NONSENSE… the Governor brings Piper and Willow with her and she does the state’s business. If former Governor Knowles, who Palin beat in the election, genuinely thinks that this really is “quite the little scandal” as he claims, why doesn’t he file an ethics complaint against Palin? If he did the Alaska media and the government would laugh such a complaint out of the building. Come on Knowles do it, I dare ya. I bet we would find that her expense reports with 5 kids are less than what you put up.
Sean Hannity calls 2008 the year journalism died, he couldn’t be more right, especially when it comes to the Washington Post.
UPDATE: David Bernstien at Volokh.com has a similar take:
New Washington Post “Expose” on Palin:
You have to read the article carefully to figure this out, but what the story ultimately reveals is that Palin (a) billed the state for most expenses allowed by law, including per diem when she stayed in her own home (her “duty station” was the state capitol of Juneau) in Wasilla; (b) didn’t bill the state for other expenses, when she could have done so lawfully, such as per diems for her children; and (c) spent a lot less money on expenses than did her predecessor, especially on travel and by ridding herself of the state’s personal chef.[FWIW, she apparently maintained two residences, the governor's mansion in Juneau, which by state law is her official work "base" and where assumedly she didn't get a per diem (but where her predecessor had a personal chef whom she let go), and Wasilla, from where she commuted to Anchorage for work when the legislature wasn't in session. Saintly to take the per diem she was legally entitled to when in the second residence? No. Worthy of the lead headline on Washingtonpost.com? Please! Not illegal, not unethical, and not a scandal.]
Meanwhile, I have to wonder whether the Post has several reporters looking over Joe Biden’s expense reports. Does he bill the government for his daily roundtrip to Delaware? How many “fact-finding missions” has he participated in annually during his Senate career? Inquiring minds want to know?
UPDATE: The Post doesn’t do the math for us, but the total per diem claimed was $16,951 divided divided by 312 days, or $54.33 per day (the per diem is $60, so there were some partial days).
Also, the article headline, “Palin Billed State for Nights Spent at Home,” and some related content, is very misleading. A glance at the expense report reproduced on the Post’s website makes it clear that she requested per diem for her daily expenses, but not for lodging, and that she apparently wrote “lodging–own home” only to explain why she wasn’t requesting hotel expenses. One almost wonders whether the author of the story understands what a “per diem” is; the story notes that Palin rarely charged the state for meals when in Wasilla and Anchorage, but of course she didn’t, because she instead just asked for the per diem!