Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Sarah Palin Reimbursed For Expenses
"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."
Palin rarely sought reimbursement for meals while staying in Anchorage or Wasilla, the reports show.
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.
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 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.
"She flies coach and encourages her cabinet to fly coach as well," said Garnero, whose job is equivalent to state controller. "Some do, some don't."
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