GOP effort to unseat Alaska legislator fails
ANCHORAGE - A Republican effort failed yesterday to unseat the Alaska state senator overseeing the ethics investigation into whether Governor Sarah Palin abused her power when she dismissed the state's public safety commissioner.
Democratic Senator Hollis French was accused of manipulating the probe for political effect on national and state elections since Palin is now the GOP vice presidential nominee. Republican Representative John Coghill last week asked the Alaska Legislative Council, the body that appointed French to oversee the probe, to discuss replacing French. Coghill said he believed the investigation was lacking in fairness and due process after French was quoted in media reports that the probe's results were going to be an "October surprise" that is "likely to be damaging to the administration."
The governor also has charged the state for expenses to take her children on official out-of-town missions. And her husband, Todd, has billed the state for expenses and a daily allowance for trips he makes on business for his wife.
Palin, who earns $125,000 a year, claimed and received $16,951 as her allowance, which officials say was permitted because her official "duty station" is Juneau, according to an analysis of her travel documents by the Washington Post. Her daughters and husband charged the state $43,490 to travel and many of the trips were to and from their house in Wasilla and Juneau, the capital city 600 miles away, the documents show.
Gubernatorial spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said yesterday that Palin's expenses are not unusual and that, under state policy, the first family could have claimed per diem expenses for each child taken on official business but has not done so.
During her speech at the Republican National Convention last week, Palin cast herself as crusader for fiscal rectitude as Alaska's governor. She noted that she sold a state-owned plane used by the former governor.
The state finance director, Kim Garnero, said Alaska law exempts the governor's office from elaborate travel regulations. Said Leighow: "The governor is entitled to a per diem, and she claims it."
"McCain's lifelong record of service to America, his battle-tested courage, unshakeable devotion to principle and clear grasp of the dangers and opportunities now facing the nation stand in dramatic contrast to the tissue-paper-thin résumé of his Democratic opponent, freshman Senator Barack Obama," the editorial declared.
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