One of the controversies about VP candidate Sarah Palin has to do with
the sale of the gubernatorial jet. She attempts to bolster
her claim, that she is a fiscal conservative, by saying that she sold
the State’s jet, claiming it was an unnecessary expense.
She sold the 2.7 million dollar jet for 2.1 million.
She sold it to one of her campaign contributors.
Pretty good deal for the contributor.
Angry Bear describes
the controversy. This reminds me of two things, one
trivial, the other potentially inflammatory.
In Michigan, in the 1990’s, the governor was John Engler. He
made a show about selling the State’s helicopter. The
previous governor (Blanchard) claimed that the helicopter had been
needed to get around the State in a timely manner. Engler
sold it anyway. But he later got pulled over twice, for
having his chauffeur drive 90 MPH. He did not get ticketed
either time, because he claimed that he had to get to some important
function. Should have kept the helicopter. That’s
The other thing it reminded me of is this
story, regarding Duke Cunningham:
Cunningham, 63, sold his San Diego-area house in 2003
for $1.6 million to defense contractor Mitchell Wade, who then sold it
for $700,000 less.
The transactions sparked allegations that the contractor had bought the
house at the higher price as payback for Cunningham’s pressing the
Pentagon to award contracts to the defense contractor.
Cunningham is now in prison. Incidentally, he is seeking a
pardon from outgoing President Bush.
Was Palin’s airplane sale a disguised sort of payback? Don’t
know. Was it a below-market price? A report in the
Tribune indicates that the final sale price was $300,000 less
than the broker’s asking price.
It would be easier to believe that Palin was sincere if she had solid
credentials as a fiscal conservative, and was not prone to theatrics.
But while mayor of Wasilla, she (reportedly)
increased government spending by 33%. The town had no debt
when she took office, but was $22 million in debt when she left.
Much of this was for a sports complex. The
construction was not planned very well. They began
construction before the town had a clear title to the land.
in the WSJ:
The misstep led to years of litigation and at least
$1.3 million in extra costs for a small municipality with a small
budget. What was to be Ms. Palin’s legacy has turned into a financial
mess that continues to plague Wasilla.
Later, as governor of Alaska, she recommended the sale of bonds to pay
for road projects, even though Alaska has a budget surplus.
Why borrow, when you have the cash?
What does one do with such reports about a controversial figure?
The innuendo about the airplane-as-payback likely cannot be
proved. The initial story about her financial management was
checked by Snopes,
but they only verified the authorship of the story, not the accuracy of
the report. However, the fact that the initial story meshes
with the WSJ report does lend some credibility.
In the next couple of months, we will see an avalanche of similar items
about all the candidates, their spouses, their kids, their dogs,
hamsters, and the fleas on the hamsters. We need to pay
attention to these reports, but treat them with reasonable skepticism.