In a breaking story, Washington Post investigative reporter Paul Kane reported today that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin paid Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh, the lobbying firm associated with Alaska’s single representative at large Don Young and the state’s indicted US Senator Ted Stevens, to win $27 million in earmarked federal funds while she was mayor of Wasilla. (Stevens’ chief of staff, Steven W. Silver, is a partner in the firm.)
According to the report, half a million went to a youth shelter, nearly $2 million was directed to a transportation hub, close to a million was for sewer repairs, and the largest part of the largesse, $15 million, was for a rail project to benefit the town of 6,700.
The researched senate records also raise a question that is straight to the heart of the issue of a presidential aspirant’s judgment: Senate records indicate the lobbying firm that was being paid $24,000 got lucky when Palin pushed the city council to raise the lucre to $36,000, once the federally earmarked money to Wasilla began to pour in, in 2000, but why did not either McCain (The self-proclaimed Avenger of Earmarks!) or anyone on his VP search team pick any of this up? These were SENATE RECORDS! Would not an “experienced” senator know how to cull them?
For example, between the lines of a senate transportation appropriations bill, in 2000 was a $1 million earmark for a rail and bus terminal for Wasilla. What’s more! In the winter of that year, Palin herself went to Washington to testify in front of congressional appropriations committees specifically to secure . . . what are those things called Senator McCain?
And it was almost immediately after her appearance that the destitute metropolis of Wasilla received half a mill for a mental health center, and another half a mill to buy some federal land, nearly half a mill to rehab an agricultural processing facility. Oh, by the way, and you’re going to love this: that $15 million rail project was to connect Wasilla to Girdwood, another rinky-dink town, but a rinky-dink town where Ted Stevens has a house!
And today, making the sojourn to Washington is one that has become an annual adventure for Wasilla officials.
When Washington Post investigators asked Palin’s campaign manager concerning the seeming inconsistency between Palin’s and McCain’s talk and their walk, Maria Comella stated, “[the VP candidate] was working in the best interests of Alaska, within the confines of the current system.”
Most folks might suggest that $27 million in federal earmarks for a town of 6,500 is working the system real well. Or, is there a better word than “working”? Oh, maybe . . . “milking” the system?
Besides the clear indication that the much ballyhooed moniker of “straight-talker” is shattered by the evidence, a more troubling question arises: Unless it’s entirely to sheer greed, why does a state with a $40 billion reserve fund, why does a state that is so flush with oil money that it pays every man, woman, and child $1,500 annually, need any federal funding, especially for projects that are everyday local maintenance in nature?
The story, sadly, does not end here. Just this year, Governor Palin’s office forwarded to Ted Stevens’ office a 70-page memo detailing needs for more than $200 million in earmarked funds.
Moreover, there’s just one other major issue here: INTEGRITY.
I speak for no one but myself. But this just makes my mind spin to the point it mumbles gibberish along the lines of WTF?— Ed Tubbs