People unclear on the concept

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on September 9, 2008

The Washington Post has an "expose" on Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's use of the per diem. The breathless headline: "Palin Billed State for Nights Spent at Home; Taxpayers Also Funded Family's Travel."

A few things to note:

First, as governor, her "home" is the governor's residence in Juneau. Her Wasilla home is not considered her "home" for per diem purposes.

Second, there is not a thing allegedly illegal or improper in anything the Post recounts here. Even though you have to scroll down deep in the story to find that out.

Third, as David Bernstein helpfully notes:

One almost wonders whether the author of the story understands what a "per diem" is; the story notes that Palin rarely charged the state for meals when in Wasilla and Anchorage, but of course she didn't, because she instead just asked for the per diem!

Fourth, Palin's travel expenses are a fraction of what her predecessors' were. Her expenses were far less than those of GOP Gov. Frank Murkowski's previous four years in office and less than the last two years of his predecessor, Democrat Tony Knowles. Also consider how much the cost of flying commercial has gone up the past couple of years and weigh that against Knowles numbers.

Note: The Post errs in stating that Knowles was Alaska governor from 1994-2000. He was governor until 2002 when he was barred by state law from serving more than two consecutive terms.

Finally, if it's front page news that the Alaska governor did nothing illegal, let alone unethical, is the Post going to look into Sen. Joseph Biden's billing the taxpayers for his train commute to and from D.C.?


Perfectly said: “It’s not that the statue had become unworthy of the museum. It’s that the museum had become unworthy of the statue. “

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September 2008



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