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Clean It Right Up....You Betcha

 
 
Reply Wed 22 Oct, 2008 06:06 am
AP INVESTIGATION: Alaska funded Palin kids' travel





By BRETT J. BLACKLEDGE, ADAM GOLDMAN and MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writers Brett J. Blackledge, Adam Goldman And Matt

Republican vice presidential nominee Alaska Governor Sarah Palin attends a rally in Henderson Reuters " Republican vice presidential nominee Alaska Governor Sarah Palin attends a rally in Henderson, Nevada …

ANCHORAGE, Alaska " 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. The trips enabled Palin, whose main state office is in the capital of Juneau, to spend more time with her children.

"She said any event she can take her kids to is an event she tries to attend," said Jennifer McCarthy, who helped organize the June 2007 Family Day Celebration picnic in Ketchikan that Piper attended with her parents.

State Finance Director Kim Garnero told The Associated Press she has not reviewed the Palins' travel expense forms, so she could not say whether the daughters' travel with their mother would meet the definition of official business.

On Aug. 6, three weeks before Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain chose Palin his running mate, and after Alaska reporters asked for the records, Palin ordered changes to previously filed expense reports for her daughters' travel.

In the amended reports, Palin added phrases such as "First Family attending" and "First Family invited" to explain the girls' attendance.

"The governor said, 'I want the purpose and the reason for this travel to be clear,'" said Linda Perez, state director of administrative services.

When Palin released her family's tax records as part of her vice presidential campaign, some tax experts questioned why she did not report the children's state travel reimbursements as income.

The Palins released a review by a Washington attorney who said state law allows the children's travel expenses to be reimbursed and not taxed when they conduct official state business.

Taylor Griffin, a McCain-Palin campaign spokesman, said Palin followed state policy allowing governors to charge for their children's travel. He said the governor's office has invitations requesting the family to attend some events, but he said he did not have them to provide.

In October 2007, Palin brought daughter Bristol along on a trip to New York for a women's leadership conference. Plane tickets from Anchorage to La Guardia Airport for $1,385.11 were billed to the state, records show, and mother and daughter shared a room for four nights at the $707.29-per-night Essex House hotel, which overlooks Central Park.

The event's organizers said Palin asked if she could bring her daughter.

Alexis Gelber, who organized Newsweek's Third Annual Women & Leadership Conference, said she does not know how Bristol ended up attending. Gelber said invitees usually attend alone, but some ask if they can bring a relative or friend.

Griffin, the campaign spokesman, said he believes someone with the event personally sent an e-mail to Bristol inviting her, but he did not have it to provide. Records show Palin also met with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Goldman Sachs representatives and visited the New York Stock Exchange.

In January, the governor, Willow and Piper showed up at the Alaska Symphony of Seafood Buffet, an Anchorage gala to announce winners of an earlier seafood competition.

"She was just there," said James Browning, executive director of Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, which runs the event. Griffin said the governor's office received an invitation that was not specifically addressed to anyone.

When Palin amended her children's expense reports, she listed a role for the two girls at the function " "to draw two separate raffle tickets."

In the original travel form, Palin listed a number of events that her children attended and said they were there "in official capacity helping." She did not identify any specific roles for the girls.

In July, the governor charged the state $2,741.26 to take Bristol and Piper to Philadelphia for a meeting of the National Governors Association. The girls had their own room for five nights at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel for $215.46 a night, expense records show.

Expense forms describe the girls' official purpose as "NGA Governor's Youth Programs and family activities." But those programs were activities designed to keep children busy, a service provided by the NGA to accommodate governors and their families, NGA spokeswoman Jodi Omear said.

In addition to the commercial flights, the children have traveled dozens of times with Palin on a state plane. For these flights, the total cost of operating the plane, at $971 an hour, was about $55,000, according to state flight logs. The cost of operating the state plane does not increase when the children join their mother.

The organizer of an American Heart Association luncheon on Feb. 15 in Fairbanks said Palin asked to bring daughter Piper to the event, and the organizer said she was surprised when Palin showed up with daughters Willow and Bristol as well.

The three Palin daughters shared a room separate from their mother at the Princess Lodge in Fairbanks for two nights, at a cost to the state of $129 per night.

The luncheon took place before Palin's husband, Todd, finished fourth in the 2,000-mile Iron Dog snowmobile race, also in Fairbanks. The family greeted him at the finish line.

When Palin showed up at the luncheon with not just Piper but also Willow and Bristol, organizers had to scramble to make room at the main table, said Janet Bartels, who set up the event.

"When it's the governor, you just make it happen," she said.

The state is already reviewing nearly $17,000 in per diem payments to Palin for more than 300 nights she slept at her own home, 40 miles from her satellite office in Anchorage.

Tony Knowles, a Democratic former governor of Alaska who lost to Palin in a 2006 bid to reclaim the job, said he never charged the state for his three children's commercial flights or claimed their travel as official state business.

Knowles, who was governor from 1994 to 2002, is the only other recent Alaska governor who had school-age children while in office.

"There was no valid reason for the children to be along on state business," said Knowles, a supporter of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. "I cannot recall any instance during my eight years as governor where it would have been appropriate to claim they performed state business."

Knowles said he brought his children to one NGA event while in office but didn't charge the state for their trip.

In February 2007, the three girls flew from Juneau to Anchorage on Alaska Airlines. Palin charged the state for the $519.30 round-trip ticket for each girl, and noted on the expense form that the daughters accompanied her to "open the start of the Iron Dog race."

The children and their mother then watched as Todd Palin and other racers started the competition, which Todd won that year. Palin later had the relevant expense forms changed to describe the girls' business as "First Family official starter for the start of the Iron Dog race."

The Palins began charging the state for commercial flights after the governor kept a 2006 campaign promise to sell a jet bought by her predecessor.

Palin put the jet up for sale on eBay, a move she later trumpeted in her star-making speech at the Republican National Convention, and it was ultimately sold by the state at a loss.

That left only one high-performance aircraft deemed safe enough for her to use " a 1980 twin-engine King Air assigned to the public safety agency but, according to flight logs, out of service for maintenance and repairs about a third of the time Palin has been governor.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 5 • Views: 1,212 • Replies: 15
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Bi-Polar Bear
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Oct, 2008 06:07 am
@Bi-Polar Bear,
RNC shells out $150K for Palin fashion
By JEANNE CUMMINGS | 10/22/08 6:50 AM EDT Updated: 10/22/08

The Republican National Committee has spent more than $150,000 to clothe and accessorize vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family since her surprise pick by John McCain in late August.

According to financial disclosure records, the accessorizing began in early September and included bills from Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis and New York for a combined $49,425.74.

The records also document a couple of big-time shopping trips to Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, including one $75,062.63 spree in early September.

The RNC also spent $4,716.49 on hair and makeup through September after reporting no such costs in August.

The cash expenditures immediately raised questions among campaign finance experts about their legality under the Federal Election Commission's long-standing advisory opinions on using campaign cash to purchase items for personal use.

Politico asked the McCain campaign for comment, explicitly noting the $150,000 in expenses for department store shopping and makeup consultation that were incurred immediately after Palin’s announcement. Pre-September reports do not include similar costs.

Spokeswoman Maria Comella declined to answer specific questions about the expenditures, including whether it was necessary to spend that much and whether it amounted to one early investment in Palin or if shopping for the vice presidential nominee was ongoing.

“The campaign does not comment on strategic decisions regarding how financial resources available to the campaign are spent," she said.

But hours after the story was posted on Politico's website and legal issues were raised, the campaign issued a new statement.

"With all of the important issues facing the country right now, it’s remarkable that we’re spending time talking about pantsuits and blouses," said spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt. "It was always the intent that the clothing go to a charitable purpose after the campaign."
Slideshow

Palin Fashion



The business of primping and dressing on the campaign trail has become fraught with political risk in recent years as voters increasingly see an elite Washington out of touch with their values and lifestyles.

In 2000, Democrat Al Gore took heat for changing his clothing hues. And in 2006, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) was ribbed for two hair styling sessions that cost about $3,000.

Then, there was Democrat John Edwards’ $400 hair cuts in 2007 and Republican McCain’s $520 black leather Ferragamo shoes this year.

A review of similar records for the campaign of Democrat Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee turned up no similar spending.

But all the spending by other candidates pales in comparison to the GOP outlay for the Alaska governor whose expensive, designer outfits have been the topic of fashion pages and magazines.

What hasn’t been apparent is where the clothes came from " her closet back in Wasilla or from the campaign coffers in Washington.

The answer can be found inside the RNC’s September monthly financial disclosure report under “itemized coordinated expenditures.”

It’s a report that typically records expenses for direct mail, telephone calls and advertising. Those expenses do show up, but the report also has a new category of spending: “campaign accessories.”

September payments were also made to Barney’s New York ($789.72) and Bloomingdale’s New York ($5,102.71).

Macy’s in Minneapolis, another store fortunate enough to be situated in the Twin Cities that hosted last summer’s Republican National Convention, received three separate payments totaling $9,447.71.

The entries also show a few purchases at Pacifier, a top notch baby store, and Steiniauf & Stroller Inc., suggesting $295 was spent to accommodate the littlest Palin to join the campaign trail.

An additional $4,902.45 was spent in early September at Atelier, a high-class shopping destination for men.
0 Replies
 
DontTreadOnMe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Oct, 2008 12:30 pm
yeah, she's cleaning up alright.
0 Replies
 
gustavratzenhofer
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Oct, 2008 12:32 pm
Am I supposed to read all of that text? Can I skim?
Bi-Polar Bear
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Oct, 2008 12:35 pm
@gustavratzenhofer,
why not skim? works for her... Wink
DontTreadOnMe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Oct, 2008 01:28 pm
@Bi-Polar Bear,
Laughing
Bi-Polar Bear wrote:

why not skim? works for her... Wink
0 Replies
 
cjhsa
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Oct, 2008 01:46 pm
@Bi-Polar Bear,
It's good to be the king....
roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Oct, 2008 03:09 pm
@Bi-Polar Bear,
Hey, George Washington offered to serve for free, though he required that his expense account be included in the deal.
DontTreadOnMe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Oct, 2008 08:46 pm
@cjhsa,
cjhsa wrote:

It's good to be the king....


until bastille day rolls around.
DontTreadOnMe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Oct, 2008 08:48 pm
@roger,
roger wrote:

Hey, George Washington offered to serve for free, though he required that his expense account be included in the deal.


former republican l.a. mayor, richard riordan refused to accept more than a dollar per year.

and he was a pretty good mayor too.
0 Replies
 
eoe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Oct, 2008 08:49 pm
@DontTreadOnMe,
Is today bastille day? I'm ready...
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Oct, 2008 09:35 pm
@cjhsa,
Quote:
It's good to be the king....


That kind of adulation is for people with small minds. That wouldn't be you, now would it, cj?
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Oct, 2008 11:18 pm
This incessant base ridicule of Sarah Palin is ridiculously childish, and all the more evidence of Liberal hypocrisy.

FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Oct, 2008 06:33 am
@Finn dAbuzz,
What's your take on Palin, Finn?
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Oct, 2008 12:43 am
@FreeDuck,
I like her.

She is an intelligent and charismatic woman who has, obviously, pleased the electorate of Alaska.

I particularly like the fact that she is someone who entered politics not because she wanted a career but because she wanted to advance a principle in which she believed.

I am amused, albeit not amazed, that Obama supporters consider their guy infinitely more experienced than her.

Do I want her to be president 6 months from now?

No, but I don't want Obama or Biden to be president less than 3 months from now.

I'm hoping that, should he win, the inexperienced Obama will rise to the job. I feel the same way about Palin, and have no reason to believe her ascension would be a disaster.

I know I am biased, but adopting the fairest perspective I can muster on this race, I will say that Biden has, at least, been equally gaffe prone and bumbling as Palin.

It's hard to find something she has said that compares to Biden's recent guarantee that electing Obama will result in an international crisis.

It's also hard to find something she has said that compares to the buffoonery of Biden's "It's all about a three letter word --- J-O-B-S," or contending FDR went on TV after the 1929 stock market crash, or insisting that a man in a wheelchair stand up.

What has been her major gaffe? Not specifically responding to Katie Couric's question about what newspapers she read?

Clearly she endorses policies that some (including you) may not favor. So don't vote for her, and even go so far as declaring you think she is wrong about the policies she endorses.

But are the ridicule and scorn really necessary?



FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Oct, 2008 10:49 am
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:
I particularly like the fact that she is someone who entered politics not because she wanted a career but because she wanted to advance a principle in which she believed.

Which principle is that? I thought you were going to say that you like the fact that she rose up through the lowest levels of politics, which I also appreciate.

Quote:
I am amused, albeit not amazed, that Obama supporters consider their guy infinitely more experienced than her.

Has anyone really made that argument? Infinitely? I think he has more relevant experience and pretty clearly knows more and has thought more about national issues.

Quote:
I feel the same way about Palin, and have no reason to believe her ascension would be a disaster.

Ok, so, all things considered, how do you feel about the Bush presidency? Because it seems to me that Palin and Bush have a lot in common.

Quote:
I know I am biased, but adopting the fairest perspective I can muster on this race, I will say that Biden has, at least, been equally gaffe prone and bumbling as Palin.

It's hard to find something she has said that compares to Biden's recent guarantee that electing Obama will result in an international crisis.

It's also hard to find something she has said that compares to the buffoonery of Biden's "It's all about a three letter word --- J-O-B-S," or contending FDR went on TV after the 1929 stock market crash, or insisting that a man in a wheelchair stand up.

What has been her major gaffe? Not specifically responding to Katie Couric's question about what newspapers she read?

I just have a hard time believing that anyone thinks that these gaffes mean anything. Does anyone ever really say "that person gaffes too much to be president or vice president"? When people knock Palin for things she has said, it is because they think it belies a lack of depth. Imagine if Obama made any of the mistakes that she has made any time during this campaign. People would rightly believe that he wasn't ready for prime time.

Quote:
Clearly she endorses policies that some (including you) may not favor. So don't vote for her, and even go so far as declaring you think she is wrong about the policies she endorses.

Well, I wasn't going to vote for her anyway being one of the apparently few who hasn't forgotten that McCain is at the top of the ticket and not her, but the truth is that I don't really know what policies she endorses. All I know of her is what she says on the campaign trail which is obviously going to be campaign talking points. I have no way of knowing if she actually believes what she says, and I don't have any sense from her past experience of what kind of leader she would be other than the striking similarities with our current president.

Quote:
But are the ridicule and scorn really necessary?

Let me ask you, do you think McCain picked her because he thought she'd make a great VP and would work well with him, or do you think he picked her because he really really wanted to win and thought that turning out his base was his only chance. And if it's the latter, doesn't that mean that "country first" is just one of many empty slogans? And what of people like cjhsa who can't speak about her without noticing how hot she is and that he'd like to **** her. He can't be the only one, can he? So if many of her own supporters can't even give her the required respect of the position that she's running for, how do you expect anyone else to?
0 Replies
 
 

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