We all know by now that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin hates socialism. Unless it’s socialism for her family.
Palin, who loves painting herself as a self-reliant woman who likes to say, “Thanks, but no thanks” to unnecessary government spending, is always on the lookout for a freebie, even if it means playing it fast and loose with the law. While she ridicules Sen. Barack Obama’s plan to “spread the wealth” to people who actually need it, Palin is seeking more of the socialism for the wealthy pioneered by President George W. Bush. In fact, the motto of the GOP since Ronald Reagan has been “spread more wealth to the financially avaricious rich by pickpocketing the working class.”
New reports of Palin’s misspending government funds for personal financial benefit emerged from an Associated Press investigation this week. Palin charged taxpayers over $20,000 to pay for her daughters to travel with her to events to which they were not invited, including 64 one-way and 12 round-trip tickets, as well as the girls’ own expensive hotel rooms. In all, previous reports have estimated Palin charged taxpayers more than $43,000 in travel expenses for family members.
If that weren’t enough, it seems Palin lied on official reimbursement forms, saying the girls were invited when, according to organizers of the events, they were not. But it doesn’t stop there. Apparently, after she was tapped as Sen. John McCain’s running mate, Palin went back and amended the expense reports with language to make the travel sound like official business, as is necessary for reimbursement under Alaska state law. So on top of being a freeloader at taxpayer expense, she altered financial documents to misrepresent unjustified personal expenses paid for by “average Joes.”
If this rip-off occurred just once, one might be able to write it off as a lapse in judgment. Unfortunately for Palin, it comes on the heels of reports of other questionable “write offs,” adding up to what appears to be a pattern of abuse. In short, we are learning that Palin is not the self-reliant opponent of government spending that she claims to be. She’s more like the welfare queen from Wasilla.
The state is already looking into the possibility of the impropriety in $17,000 of Palin’s claim for per diem pay. The money was apparently paid to her for “travel expenses” incurred on nights she spent at her home in Wasilla, AK. The money is supposed to be used for when an official travels on state business, not for a commute from an Anchorage office to a home in Wasilla. Is it part of “the real America” to steal from the taxpayer? Palin receives a governor’s salary, from which she is expected to pay — like any average small town American — her home expenses. But she chose to have taxpayers pick up the tab.
It’s important to note that Palin is not continuing any Alaskan gubernatorial tradition of defrauding taxpayers. The only Alaska governor to have school-age children while serving in recent memory is Tony Knowles, Democratic governor of the state from 1994 to 2002. Knowles told the AP he had never charged the state for his children’s travel. Knowles also said that he prohibited Alaskan commissioners from charging per diem allowances when staying at home, no matter where their home was located.
One Alaskan tradition exhibiting tendencies of socialism is the oil and gas rebate checks. Last year, Alaskan residents received a $1,654 check as a dividend from oil revenues in the state. Now, thanks to an initiative backed by Palin, each Alaskan (including Palin, her husband and children) will get $1,200 more to help pay for energy cost increases. Apparently the almost $10,000 the Palin family received last year wasn’t enough to heat their Wasilla lakefront home.
Now that she’s a vice presidential candidate, Palin can stop relying on Alaskan taxpayers to foot the bill. Instead, it is donors to the Republican National Committee who pay her way these days.
According to an article on Politico, the RNC spent $150,000 on the appearance of Palin and her family in September alone. Shopping sprees to high-end stores such as Neiman Marcus and Saks reveal thousands spent on Palin, her husband and even baby Trig.
No similar expenses could be attributed to the spending of the DNC or the Obama/Biden campaign. In fact, BuzzFlash has documented that Obama still goes to his neighborhood barber of 11 years, where he spends $20 for a haircut, out of his own pocket.
So much for “Palin the Wal-Mart mom.”
According to Politico, however, it’s more than just tacky to spend donors’ money on luxury clothing for one’s family, it may actually violate the Federal Election Commission’s prohibition against personal expenses.
Palin is clearly used to getting a free lunch. Her record as a reformer is as thin as tissue paper. Her claim that she said “No thanks” to the bridge to nowhere? Bogus. Her selling the governor’s private jet on eBay? It was eventually sold, but not online, and at a loss. Not only that, but when you charge the state to fly you and your family around, and when you sell the state’s plane for less than it’s actually worth, that’s a weak argument of fiscal responsibility. It’s more like bragging about losing money.
Aside from the fact that she may face legal problems in the future for her misleading statements and questionable splurges, our problem with Palin is her misleading stories to the American people and questionable values. Her constant evocation of Joe the “Plumber,” her claims of cutting government waste, and her middle class values are all lies. The truth is that, although the Palins are worth well over $1 million, the governor still feels entitled to dip her hand in the collective cookie jar. She’s a freeloader, not a reformer. And the taxpayers and political donors are paying the tab for her personal expenses.
This was a pattern that first became clear when she was Mayor of Wasilla, when she showed no hesitation in taking advantage of freebies and using public funds for a lavish redecoration of her mayoral office, among other unnecessary expenses.
What’s to say she won’t continue in this same pattern of abuse once she’s in the executive branch of the nation? Despite her populist posturing and rhetoric, it’s clear she favors continuing Bush’s socialism for the rich, and by extension, for herself. And the taxpayer keeps getting stuck with the bill. Palin has done very well living off of the public treasury, very well indeed.
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS