February 25, 2009 in Nation/World

Palin to reimburse Alaska for family trips

Lisa Demer McClatchy

Expenses include daughters’ travel

 An investigator hired by the state of Alaska examined dozens of trips taken by Gov. Sarah Palin to see whether the state was properly charged for her expenses. Palin’s attorney, Thomas Van Flein, said 72 travel authorizations were studied, with nine found to be of questionable state interest.

 Those include airfare and one meal for her daughter Bristol Palin, who accompanied the governor to New York for Newsweek’s Third Annual Women and Leadership Conference in October 2007. Other trips include Bristol attending “Beauty and the Beast” at the Valley Performing Arts Center, airfare for daughters Piper and Bristol to travel to Juneau from Anchorage for the State of the State address and airfare for Piper to attend the start of the Iron Dog snowmachine race and the Alaska Outdoor Council Banquet.

Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has agreed to reimburse the state for the costs of nine trips for her children. An agreement announced Tuesday settles an ethics complaint filed in October.

The settlement was signed by Palin and Anchorage lawyer Tim Petumenos, who was hired by the state Personnel Board to investigate the complaint.

The settlement doesn’t specify how much Palin will repay the state, but Petumenos said he was given an estimate from the governor’s staff of about $7,000. For some trips, only a portion of the children’s expenses will be repaid because parts of the trip were determined to be legitimate.

The vast majority of trips that included the Palin children appeared appropriate, Petumenos said. But for nine trips, the personal benefit outweighed the public benefit, he found.

He said the state’s existing rules on family travel are “dizzying.” The settlement agreement says the Department of Law will be asked to provide more specific guidelines.

In some cases, after Alaska reporters began asking for the records but before Palin began running for vice president, Palin had her staff amend records to state clearly that the first family had been invited. But Petumenos said an invitation isn’t the key issue.

The news comes just after state officials announced Palin had turned in her state Chevy Suburban and also would have to pay taxes on expense money she received while living in her Wasilla home.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email