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Palin "Explains" Charging Taxpayers For Family Travel: I Sold The Governor's Jet

Reported by Ellen - October 24, 2008 -

During her softball interview with Sean Hannity last night (10/23/08), Governor Sarah Palin made a curious defense for charging the State of Alaska when her family accompanied her on official trips. First, she falsely suggested that her family's travel was part of the official function, when it has been documented otherwise. Then she said that she had saved the state money because she had sold the governor's jet. One got the sense that Palin felt that because she saved the state money and because her family could have flown at no extra cost had she kept the jet, that the state owed it to her to pay her family's way. With video.

Palin said, “Every governor has traveled with family when it's a First Family function. And it's always been charged to the state. That's part of the job. What I did was sell the governor's jet so that we could fly commercial to save the state a heck of a lot of money, which we have. We've cut the state's travel budget by about $400,000 by flying commercial. And it's nothing that's, it's not unprecedented.”

Well, not quite. In the first place, it has been well documented that the travel expenses in question were not First Family functions. Second, there may be precendent but not in recent Alaska History. As ABC News reported,

Tony Knowles, a Democratic former governor of Alaska who lost to Palin in a 2006 bid to reclaim the job, said he never charged the state for his three children's commercial flights or claimed their travel as official state business.

Knowles, who was governor from 1994 to 2002, is the only other recent Alaska governor who had school-age children while in office.

"There was no valid reason for the children to be along on state business," said Knowles, a supporter of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. "I cannot recall any instance during my eight years as governor where it would have been appropriate to claim they performed state business." Knowles said he brought his children to one NGA event while in office but didn't charge the state for their trip.

Lastly, Palin may have saved the state money by selling the governor's jet but it really has nothing to do with whether or not she improperly charged taxpayers for her family's travel.