Sarah Palin’s credentials as a “reformer” are nothing but spin. She has continually sided with Big Oil, lobbied to increase pork spending, raised money for one of the nation’s most flagrant pork barrel abusers, and mismanaged public funds through her own neglect and ineptitude. Here’s a guide to separating myth from fact.
THE MYTH: “She took the luxury jet that was acquired by her predecessor and sold it on eBay. And made a profit!” — John McCain, at a campaign stop in Wisconsin
THE FACTS: No one bought the jet online. It was eventually sold through an aircraft broker — at a loss to taxpayers of nearly $600,000 – to one of her largest campaign contributors, who is reportedly now seeking $50,000 in taxpayer money to pay maintenance costs.
THE MYTH: “I told the Congress ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ on that Bridge to Nowhere.” — Sarah Palin, convention speech
THE FACTS: Supported the infamous pork project in her 2006 run for governor, even after Congress had killed the bridge; derided its opponents as “spinmeisters.” Reversed her stance a year later — but kept the money, doling out the $223 million in federal funds to other pork projects throughout the state.
THE MYTH: “We … championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress.” — Sarah Palin, convention speech
THE FACTS: As mayor, employed a lobbyist who also worked for Jack Abramoff to secure $27 million in pork spending for Wasilla — more than $4,000 per resident. In her two years as governor, requested $453 million in earmarks. Alaska ranks first in the nation for pork, raking in seven times the national average. Alaska ranks number one in federal spending per resident ($13,950) but sits at number eighteen in taxes paid per resident ($5434), meaning all of us taxpaying non-Alaskans spend $8500 per year on each and every resident of Palin’s model of “rugged self-sufficiency”.
THE MYTH: “I found … someone who stopped government from wasting taxpayers’ money.” — John McCain, introducing Palin
THE FACTS: Signature accomplishment as mayor: building a $15 million hockey arena that plunged the city (whose annual budget is just $20 million) into debt. She broke ground on the project without finalizing the city’s purchase of the land, with the resulting fiasco leading to years of litigation and forcing taxpayers to pay six times the original market price for the property the city ended up seizing from a private citizen using eminent domain. This cost Wasilla an additional $1.3 million — roughly $200 per resident. Palin funded the project by pushing a special referendum that raised the city sales tax by 25 percent. City hall records show the referendum was passed by just twenty votes.
THE MYTH: “Our opponents say, again and again, that drilling will not solve all of America’s energy problems — as if we didn’t know that already.” — Sarah Palin, convention speech
THE FACTS: Apparently Ms. Palin did not know that just the month before: “I beg to disagree with any candidate who would say we can’t drill our way out of our problem.” — Sarah Palin, July 2008
THE MYTH: “We began a nearly $40 billion natural-gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence.” — Sarah Palin, convention speech
THE FACTS: With federal approval years away, not a single section of the pipeline has been laid. State could end up paying the pipeline’s contractor $500 million — even if it never breaks ground on the project.
THE MYTH: “She’s from a small town with small-town values.” — Fred Thompson, convention speech
THE FACTS: Wasilla and the surrounding valley were recently named the “meth capital of Alaska”, with 42 meth labs busted in a single year. Charles Wohlforth, in a Frommer’s travel guidebook on Alaska, described Wasilla as “the worst kind of suburban sprawl of highway-fronting shopping malls and gravel lots.”
THE MYTH: Palin has “taken on the political establishment in the largest state of the union.” — Fred Thompson, convention speech
THE FACTS: Served until 2005 as director of fundraising group associated with indicted senator Ted Stevens. Citizens Against Government Waste is a frequent critic of Stevens’ affinity for pork and keeps a list of his projects. Ted Stevens has taken criticism for a wide variety of positions and actions taken in the Senate. He placed a secret hold on a bill that would allow easier accountability and research of all federal funding measures, and supported pork barrel projects such as the Gravina Island Bridge and the Knik Arm Bridge (collectively known as the “Bridges to Nowhere”). In December 2003, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Stevens had taken advantage of lax Senate rules to use his political influence to obtain a large amount of his personal wealth. According to the article, while Stevens was already a millionaire “thanks to investments with businessmen who received government contracts or other benefits with his help,” the lawmaker who is in charge of $800 billion a year, writes “preferences he wrote into law” that he benefits from. On July 29, 2008 Stevens was indicted by a federal grand jury on seven counts of falsely reporting gifts. The charges relate to renovations to his home and to more than $250,000 worth of gifts he has allegedly received from VECO Corporation. The indictment followed a lengthy investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for possible corruption based on his relationship with Bill Allen, an oil service company executive, who has pleaded guilty to bribing Alaskan legislators, including Stevens’ son, former State Senator Ben Stevens.
THE MYTH: “She’s fought oil companies.” — John McCain, introducing Palin
THE FACTS: Collected $13,000 in campaign contributions from oil and gas lobbyists, including Exxon, BP, Shell and Chevron. BP was a major sponsor of her inaugural ball.
THE MYTH: “She’s been to Kuwait. She’s been over there. She has been with her troops. The National Guard that she commands, who have been over there and had the experience.” — John McCain, highlighting Palin’s national-security credentials
THE FACTS: Never had a passport before 2007, when she made a brief photo-op trip to visit her son’s batallion in Germany and Kuwait. Claimed to have visited Ireland, but this was a refueling stop and she never got off of the plane. Has never been to Iraq, and has not met a single foreign head of state.
THE MYTH: “I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending.” — Sarah Palin, convention speech
THE FACTS: As governor, sought travel reimbursement for 312 nights she spent in her own home!!!