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article imageOp-Ed: How To Manufacture a Daily Palin Controversy

By Barbara Sowell     Sep 9, 2008 in Politics
This morning Washington Post staff writers, James V. Grimaldi and Karl Vick, released a lengthy three-page report entitled "Palin Billed State for Nights Spent at Home." The title indicates that something must be very fishy with Palin’s expense reports.
Here’s the lead paragraph:
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.
If anyone bothers to read the entire article, it becomes obvious that not only is the title and lead paragraph very misleading, but apparently Palin was well within her rights as governor of Alaska to claim the per diem for her daily expenses while living at home in Wasilla because her office was at the state capitol of Juneau. Additionally, she requested per diem for her daily expenses, but not for lodging.
The Volokh Conspiracy has done a very good job of ferreting out the facts from the Washington Post article:
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.]
What about Joe Biden's expense reports? A quick search of Google news will show that no major newspaper has even questioned his net worth or his expenses. After all, Biden claims to be one of the poorest members of congress ranking 108th among all members
of the Senate according to a 2006 report in Open Secrets.
According to the National Review Online, Joe Biden Spent His Fortune on Amtrak Tickets. Joe Biden is spending somewhere around $12,744 per year on Amtrack tickets.
Joe Biden’s net worth is less than $150,000, "according to the Kansas City Star. However, the National Review says Joe Biden’s net worth would be negative if not for the value and equity in his home."
Grant’s Grunts summarizes conservative concerns over the free pass the media has given Biden:
I find this really scary. Either it’s a lie, a typo, or Joe Biden doesn’t know how to save money. Seriously, how does one spend 35 years in the senate, where the annual salary these days is at least $165K and he has only saved $150K in that time? Just $10K a year in savings would do it in half that time, and that is just in cash, net worth actually counts the value of your home, etc. Someone needs to do some real digging here. There’s gotta be offshore accounts or something like that or it is a typo. If not, Joe Biden has no business whatsoever being involved in any discussion of money at the Federal level, because his money management skills are grossly incompetent. . .
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about Washington post, Sarah palin, Joe biden, Expenses, Per diem
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