Gov. Palin’s Vice Presidential Quest Costs Alaskan Taxpayers Over $1,000 a Day

In the Anchorage Daily News this morning it was reported that Governor Sarah Palin is traveling with her Alaskan office director, Kris Perry, so that Gov. Palin can run the State of Alaska AND campaign for Vice President of the United States at the same time.  Though the exact costs of Ms. Perry’s travels with Gov. Palin are not currently known, estimates are at over $1,000 a day, for which Alaskan taxpayers are footing the bill.  These costs could have been avoid had Gov. Palin temporarily turned over daily operations to Alaska’s lieutenant governor, Sean Parnell.

Is this something Alaskans are comfortable with paying for in light of our current economic crisis?  Shouldn’t the costs of Perry accompanying Gov. Palin be paid for by the McCain-Palin campaign instead of the State of Alaska?  And isn’t the job of governor a full-time position requiring more than ‘phoning it in’ so to speak?  Isn’t campaigning for Vice President of the United States of America MORE than a full-time job?  And what about Gov. Palin’s attention to the legal matters involved in her defense of ethics violations with the second Troopergate investigation before the Alaska Personnel Board, isn’t that at the very least a part-time job?  And not to be sexist, but isn’t being a mother of five, including a new baby, also more than a full-time position? 

While it is possible for a person with an A-type personality to multitask more than one responsibility at a time, doesn’t that then sometimes compromise the quality of the work done?  And last time we checked, aren’t there only 24 hours in a day?

JUNEAU, Alaska – A state that is remote from the U.S. mainland is essentially being run by remote control.

Aides say Gov. Sarah Palin is still calling the shots in Alaska government even as she campaigns as Sen. John McCain’s presidential running mate. Her Anchorage office director and hometown friend, Kris Perry, has been with Palin for almost a month to help facilitate communication between the governor and her staff back home.

Perry travels at the expense of Alaska residents – probably at a cost of more than $1,000 every day.

“She was dispatched from the governor’s office to be right with the governor, staffing her as it relates to state business,” said Linda Perez, state director of administrative services. “The governor is at rallies and things, and if we need to get information to her and get responses back, Kris is the one used to do that.”

Perez said she does not know how much Perry’s travel is costing Alaska. News organizations traveling with Palin’s campaign routinely are charged more than $1,000 per day per person for air travel, depending on the length of trips and how many people aboard flights share the cost.

Said to be Palin’s closest confidante on staff, Perry was manager of Palin’s gubernatorial campaign and has since run the Anchorage office, Palin’s main base of operations as governor.

Perry continues to draw her regular salary of $105,060 annually, and the state will pick up the tab for her travel and expenses, Perez said. She said some items, such as rides on the McCain-Palin campaign bus, will be difficult to estimate for reimbursement purposes. Perry also may use the state credit card for travel, said Perez.

“I asked her to keep a log and when she returns, if there are things that are reimbursable, we will do that,” said Perez. “We will try to sort it out when she gets back.”

State Rep. Les Gara, a Democrat, said it was appropriate for Perry to accompany the governor, but he questioned the state having to pick up the cost.

“It’s a lot of work, I assume the governor is doing it and she absolutely has the right to have staff with her. But those are costs the campaign has chosen to impose on us and it would seem fair that the campaign would pay for it,” he said.

Though the governor continues to draw her $10,417 monthly salary, the state will not be paying for her travel and expenses because her purpose for traveling is not state business, Perez said.

Palin herself is in daily contact with her chief of staff, Mike Nizich, according to her staff.

Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell said he also is in frequent e-mail contact with the governor. He said Palin has named board members and appointed a new commissioner since leaving the state.

“The great thing is we’ve got a great team in place who continue to work at her direction,” Parnell said. “Our governor is definitely acting as governor. She’s in charge and communicating well.”

Both McCain and Democrat Barack Obama have been criticized for missing substantial numbers of Senate votes since 2007 while campaigning.

Still, such a lengthy absence by the acting head of state is unprecedented in Alaska, and one author of the state constitution believes Palin should have turned her duties over to the lieutenant governor before leaving Alaska two months ago to campaign for the nation’s second highest job.

“When she took on the candidacy for vice president, she should have then created a letter saying, ‘I am temporarily away from the Office of Governor and I hereby notify the lieutenant governor that he is constitutionally in charge,'” said constitutional convention delegate and former Lt. Gov. Jack Coghill. “That’s the way it should be.”

Palin Manages to Govern Alaska From Afar

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