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Greta Van Susteren's Unbalanced Concern About Taxpayer Money

Reported by Ellen - February 18, 2009 -

Greta Van Susteren has been complaining about the cost of President Obama's travel. She even complained that he did not "jet pool" with Vice President Biden, even though it is customary for the president and vice president to travel separately in order to avoid a catastrophe in case of accident, assassination attempt or other peril. OK, fine. But then why hasn't she asked Sarah Palin about any of her questionable travel costs at taxpayer expense?

Last fall, questions arose about thousands of dollars that the State of Alaska paid for Palin's husband and children to accompany her when she traveled on state business.

The Anchorage Daily News reported

Gov. Sarah Palin charged the state for her children to travel with her, including to events where they were not invited, and later amended expense reports to specify that they were on official business.

The charges included costs for hotel and commercial flights for three daughters to join Palin to watch their father in a snowmobile race, and a trip to New York, where the governor attended a five-hour conference and stayed with 17-year-old Bristol for five days and four nights in a luxury hotel.

In all, Palin has charged the state $21,012 for her three daughters’ 64 one-way and 12 round-trip commercial flights since she took office in December 2006. In some other cases, she has charged the state for hotel rooms for the girls.

As governor, Palin justified having the state pay for the travel of her daughters — Bristol, 17; Willow, 14; and Piper, 7 — by noting on travel forms that the girls had been invited to attend or participate in events on the governor’s schedule.

But some organizers of these events said they were surprised when the Palin children showed up uninvited, or said they agreed to a request by the governor to allow the children to attend.

Palin also cost the State of Alaska about $55,000 for transporting her family on the state plane which costs $971/hour to operate. Anchorage Daily News noted: "Bill Tandeske, who served as public safety commissioner from 2003 to 2006 during Gov. Frank Murkowski's administration, said the state plane should be used for official business only, not like a family station wagon."

As Mayor of Wasilla, Palin spent $50,000 of city funds to redecorate her office without bothering to get the authorization of the City Council, thus making it an illegal expenditure.

And, of course, there was the sports complex that she started building before "remembering" to buy the land underneath it. That cost taxpayers at least an extra million.

Earlier today, the New York Times reported that the State of Alaska has just ruled that Palin owes taxes on nearly $17,000 in per diem allowances paid to her as travel reimbursement for nights she actually stayed at home in Wasilla.

But it's funny how none of those issues occurred to Van Susteren in any of her softball interviews with Palin or her family this week.

On Monday, the day before Van Susteren demanded an explanation from the White House about their "extravaganza," she showed not even a smidgen of curiosity about Palin's far more questionable expenses during yet another series of fawning interviews with the Palin family.

Instead, viewers were treated to such penetrating questions as, "You know, some families don't have the broad family support. I mean, (Bristol's) got the brothers and the sisters and the parents and the grandparents... Isn't sort of the bigger story and the bigger issue is that how important it is for families to pitch in?" and "All right, when are you going to take me to the North Slope?" before gushing, "Well, I see the crowd is out here waiting to -- they should be looking at the (snow machine race) finish line. They're all looking at you, Governor!"

It's not like Van Susteren was avoiding any political issues, just those that didn't make the obviously-interested-in-keeping-her-name-in-the-national-political-scene Palin look good. So Van Susteren helpfully asked Palin to explain why she thought Obama should veto the stimulus bill and noted, "Since I've been here, I've checked the Anchorage Daily News, and it looks like you may have had some impact on the -- on the president on this natural gas pipeline?"

Where's Bernard Goldberg?

(Thanks to reader Lynn for her help with this post)