Another day, another ethics challenge for the Palin administration. This one involves (brace yourselves) failure to disclose free gifts on her financial disclosure forms! Does this sound familiar? If you answered “no”, I invite you to use the search feature located in the sidebar and type the words “Ted Stevens”. You’ll have enough reading material on the subject to keep you busy for a week.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Gov. Sarah Palin has added to her financial disclosure forms two free trips that she took nearly two years ago but failed to report. Palin, who was Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s running mate, made the disclosures last month, but after Election Day when she and McCain lost to Barack Obama and Joe Biden. The trips were first revealed in a story by The Associated Press in October.
The free trips were taken in April and May of 2007 and should have been reported within 30 days under state ethics law. The Nov. 17 disclosure forms note that the reports were “not filed timely due to administrative error.”
Bill McAllister, the governor’s spokesman, said this week that the mistakes were made by travel support staff. He said he could not explain the timing of when and how they were caught, but that it was irrelevant because the error was corrected.
Palin, who has criticized state lawmakers for gifts they take, is not facing any sanctions for the late filings, according to Linda Perez, state administrative director. Perez said she was alerted to the matter by McCain’s presidential campaign before the Oct. 14 AP story.
“It wasn’t necessarily the governor’s oversight, nor was she trying to hide anything,” Perez said. “It was a staff oversight.”
In one of the trips, the James B. Hunt Jr. Institute of North Carolina — a nonprofit education policy group — paid the $2,827 cost of Palin’s April 2007 flight and hotel in Scottsdale, Ariz., to attend a four-day conference, according to her report. The group has said it also paid for other governors attending the annual event in recent years.
In May 2007, Palin accepted lodging for herself and her three daughters at Mt. Chilkoot Lodge in the Southeast Alaska town of Skagway. The lodging, valued at $300, was paid for by the owners, including Palin friend and former deputy campaign treasurer Kathy Hosford.
The reports were among recent disclosures released to the AP after a public records request.
Among other gifts Palin reported last month is a June 30 flight valued at $1,187.50 that was paid by the North Slope Borough for Palin and her 7-year-old daughter, Piper, to attend various functions, including a whaling festival in the town of Barrow.
Palin and husband Todd also received travel, food and lodging valued at $4,620.12 to attend a Republican Governors Association event in Texas, in April — gifts that were not reported until August, according to disclosure forms. Palin and the other governors attending the event also received $1,000 Rocky Carroll cowboy boots.
So, in case you missed it, here’s the timeline:
April 2007 – Trip #1
May 2007 – Deadline for reporting Trip #1
June 2007 – Trip #2
July 2007 – Deadline for reporting Trip #2
September or October 2008 – McCain post-nomination vetting process discovers violation.
October 14, 2008 – Associated Press reports on the trips and Palin’s failure to disclose them.
November 2008 – Palin amends her forms to include the gifts, and blames support staff.
And Bill McAllister, Alaska’s own Dana Perrino, has assured us that none of this matters because once the Associated Press blew the lid off it, she went back and fixed it. So, move along everyone, nothing to see here.
So, does this mean when the IRS finds out you haven’t disclosed certain things on your tax forms, and you find out that they know, and then you go back with a bottle of white out, that means everything is OK?
And I suppose, Mr. McAllister would say that if you rob a bank, and the police show up at your house, everything is OK as long as you give it back?
Can we assume, then, that since Linda Perez tells us that Palin will not be facing sanctions that there is precedent for overlooking these little mistakes? Maybe others have been allowed to slide with nothing more than a “tsk tsk” from the overseeing financial watchdog agency APOC (the Alaskan Public Offices Commission)?
In an interesting little piece of irony, Democratic Senator Elect Mark Begich recently got in to hot water for….wait for it….failure to properly fill out his financial disclosure forms. A complaint was filed against him by the Republican Party, because…well…they can’t stand people who don’t fill out their financial disclosure forms properly.
Mark Begich, the Democratic challenger for U.S. Senate, will pay a $1,420 fine for failing to properly fill out state financial disclosure forms, a campaign spokeswoman said Monday.
A Begich spokeswoman says he corrected all errors and will pay the fine that reflects $10 a day for each day the report was deemed incomplete. [snip]
“We are pleased to have this matter over,” said campaign spokeswoman Julie Hasquet. “We’ll be paying the fine immediately.”
McHugh Pierre [a spokesman for the Alaska Republican Party] said in a statement that he was pleased with the outcome.
“I am very happy that the commission is holding Mayor Begich accountable for his actions,” Pierre said.
Yes, by all means, McHugh Pierre, APOC should hold people accountable for their actions. Mark Begich did something wrong, APOC sanctioned him, he admitted it and immediately paid a fine of $10 a day. So (getting out calculator) that means that give or take $100…Sarah Palin owes about $8720 in fines according to my calculations. Right? I mean, surely we’re not going to fail to hold someone accountable for their actions, are we??
So, why is state administrative director Linda Perez telling us that the Governor is facing no sanctions? Did she get this information from APOC? Did they decide to give her a free pass? Or is this a bit of wishful thinking on the part of the Governor’s office? Is this a bit of Bill McAllister logic that says if you have a library book out past the due date and you accrue a big fine, that as long as you bring the book back, and as long as you are a Republican, you don’t have to pay? I’d be interested to find that out.
And in the meantime, Alaskans for Truth can add something else to their growing list of things for which to hold Sarah Palin accountable.