Palin Faces New Ethics Complaint Over Reimbursements

By Kimberly Kindy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 7, 2009; 9:01 PM

Within days of resigning from office, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) is facing a new ethics complaint, accusing her of continuing to ask for reimbursement for travel expenses for staying in her own home in Wasilla while working in Anchorage, records show.

In February, following a Washington Post story that revealed the practice, state officials reversed a policy that treated the "per diem" allowances of $60 a day as legitimate, tax-free business expenses under the Internal Revenue Code.

In the new ethics complaint, filed with the Alaska Office of the Attorney General late Monday by Wasilla resident Zane Henning, there is no documentation showing how often Palin may have filed per diem claims in recent months. The complaint includes documents from Palin for the month of May, listing five travel reimbursement claims at $60 apiece. Henning is questioning the governor's request since the listed activities for those days were in Wasilla and Anchorage.

"The taxpayers of Alaska should not have to pay the governor, or any other public official, $60 a night to stay in their own home," Henning said in an interview.

State policy allows for reimbursement if a state official must travel 50 miles or more from his or her home for state business. Palin's lakeside home in Wasilla and the state office building in Anchorage are about 45 miles apart.

Palin's staff and officials in the state's Division of Administrative Services, which handles per diem claims, did not respond today to The Post's requests for information.

It is unclear whether Palin has paid income taxes on the reimbursements.

In February, when state officials determined Palin would owe income taxes on nearly $17,000 paid to her in travel reimbursements, the governor's spokeswoman, Sharon Leighow, said, "The amount of taxes owed is a private matter. If the governor collects future per diem, those documents would be a matter of public record."

In Palin's resignation speech last week, and in a follow-up letter posted on Facebook, she said the flood of ethics complaints had played a role in her decision to leave office. With Henning's new filing on Tuesday, at least 19 ethics complaints have been filed against the governor since she took office.

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