Irresponsible

The McCain-Palin campaign loves to talk about much of a fiscally-responsible maverick reformer Sarah Palin is.

But does that record really hold up?

Well, as Mayor of Wasilla, Palin did save the people money–by forcing rape victims to pay for their own ‘rape kit’ forensic examinations:

But in fact, Palin was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska from 1996 to 2002. And according to an Alaskan news article in the local Wasilla paper in the year 2000, the City of Wasilla, under Mayor Palin, charged rape victims for their own forensic tests. Most Alaskan municipalities picked up the tab themselves, but not Wasilla, the article notes. You see, the city of Wasilla, the article notes, didn’t want to “burden” taxpayers with having to support victims of rape. Yes, they were more interested in lowering taxes.

[Emphasis added]

In fact, the only reason Wasilla stopped forcing rape victims to fund their own investigations was because Alaska’s Democratic Governor, Tony Knowles, signed a bill into law forcing the town to end the practice.  In addition, the Frontiersman article cited above notes Wasilla as the only place in Alaska that actually charged rape victims to pay for their own investigations.

I guess you could call that fiscally-conservative, though I’m not sure burdening rape victims is the best way Sarah Palin could have saved money.

Then again, saving taxpayers money apparently stopped being a priority when Palin moved up to the Governor’s office:

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.

[…]

[Palin] 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.

[…]

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.

[…]

In the past, per diem claims by Alaska state officials have carried political risks. In 1988, the head of the state Commerce Department was pilloried for collecting a per diem charge of $50 while staying in his Anchorage home, according to local news accounts. The commissioner, the late Tony Smith, resigned amid a series of controversies.

“It was quite the little scandal,” said Tony Knowles, the Democratic governor from 1994 to 2000. “I gave a direction to all my commissioners if they were ever in their house, whether it was Juneau or elsewhere, they were not to get a per diem because, clearly, it is and it looks like a scam — you pay yourself to live at home,” he said.

[Emphasis added]

Of course, Palin’s supporters say that she’s allowed to charge the state for whatever she can reasonably classify as a business expense, and they’re  technically right.

But this isn’t a matter of breaking the law, it’s a matter of Palin displaying terrible judgment (and just a bit of greed)–she’s charging taxpayers to pay herself to live at home and attend basketball games.  And Sarah Palin’s doing this even though the last time a high-ranking state official did the same he was forced to resign.

I wouldn’t call charging your taxpayers for your personal expenses (or expenses you never incurred) fiscally responsible.  Nor would I call this fiscally responsible, either:

Of the 50 states, Alaska ranks No. 1 in taxes per resident and No. 1 in spending per resident. Its tax burden per resident is 21/2 times the national average; its spending, more than double. The trick is that Alaska’s government spends money on its own citizens and taxes the rest of us to pay for it.

[Emphasis added]

Sarah Palin’s Alaska: highest in taxing, highest in spending.

Hey McCain campaign, what’s all this talk I hear about Sarah Palin being a maverick who reformed Alaska? Because all I see is another power-abusing Republican who mismanages the people’s money and stuffs her pockets with tax dollars.

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