From today's Washington Post:
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has billed taxpayers for 312 nights spent in her own home during her first 19 months in office, charging a "per diem" allowance intended to cover meals and incidental expenses while traveling on state business.
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.
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.
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.Asked Monday about the official policy on charging for children's travel expenses, state finance director KimGarnero said: "We cover the expenses of anyone who's conducting state business. I can't imagine kids could be doing that."
Tony Knowles, the Democratic governor from 1994 to 2000, said "I gave a direction to all my commissioners if they were ever in their house, whether it was Juneau or elsewhere, they were not to get a per diem because, clearly, it is and it looks like a scam: you pay yourself to live at home."
Knowles, whose children were school-age at the start of his first term, said that his wife sometimes accompanied him to conferences overseas but that he could "count on one hand" the number of times his children accompanied him.
"And the policy was not to reimburse for family travel on commercial airlines, because there is no direct public benefit to schlepping kids around the state," he said.