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Palin Billed State for Nights Spent at Home

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Ed O'Keefe talks to Washington Post's investigative reporter James Grimaldi, who is working from Alaska, about documents showing that Gov. Sarah Palin billed Alaska taxpayers for travel expenses for her and her family. Video by

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She wrote some form of "Lodging -- own residence" or "Lodging -- Wasilla residence" more than 30 times at the same time she took a per diem, according to the reports. In two dozen undated amendments to the reports, the governor deleted the reference to staying in her home but still charged the per diem.

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Palin charged the state a per diem for working on Nov. 22, 2007 -- Thanksgiving Day. The reason given, according to the expense report, was the Great Alaska Shootout, an annual NCAA college basketball tournament held in Anchorage.

In separate filings, the state was billed about $25,000 for Palin's daughters' expenses and $19,000 for her husband's.

Flights topped the list for the most expensive items, and the daughter whose bill was the highest was Piper, 7, whose flights cost nearly $11,000, while Willow, 14, claimed about $6,000 and Bristol, 17, accounted for about $3,400.

One event was in New York City in October 2007, when Bristol accompanied the governor to Newsweek's third annual Women and Leadership Conference, toured the New York Stock Exchange and met local officials and business executives. The state paid for three nights in a $707-a-day hotel room. Garnero said the governor's office has the authority to approve hotel stays above $300.

Asked Monday about the official policy on charging for children's travel expenses, Garnero said: "We cover the expenses of anyone who's conducting state business. I can't imagine kids could be doing that."

But Leighow said many of the hundreds of invitations Palin receives include requests for her to bring her family, placing the definition of "state business" with the party extending the invitation.

One such invitation came in October 2007, when Willow flew to Juneau to join the Palin family on a tour of the Hub Juneau Christian Teen Center, where Palin and her family worship when they are in Juneau. The state gave the center $25,000, according to a May 2008 memo.

Leighow noted that under state policy, all of the governor's children are entitled to per diem expenses, even her infant son. "The first family declined the per diem [for] the children," Leighow said. "The amount that they had declined was $4,461, as of August 5."

The family also charged for flights around the state, including trips to Alaska events such as the start of the Iditarod dog-sled race and the Iron Dog snowmobile race, a contest that Todd Palin won.

Meanwhile, Todd Palin spent $725 to fly to Edmonton, Alberta, for "information gathering and planning meeting with Northern Alberta Institute of Technology," according to an expense report. During the three-day trip, he charged the state $291 for his per diem. A notation said "costs paid by Dept. of Labor." He also billed the state $1,371 for a flight to Washington to attend a National Governors Association meeting with his wife.

Gov. Palin has spent far less on her personal travel than her predecessor: $93,000 on airfare in 2007, compared with $463,000 spent the year before by her predecessor, Frank Murkowski. He traveled often in an executive jet that Palin called an extravagance during her campaign. She sold it after she was sworn into office.


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