Sarah Palin on Government Reform

Republican Governor (AK); ; nominee for Vice President

Conflict of interest in fellow Councilor's garbage proposal

The Wasilla City Council had a kind of paternalistic way of governing. But sometimes council members' plans went beyond paternalism to conflicts of interest. For example, [Councilor Nick Carney] tried to spearhead a development plan that would require people in new subdivisions to pay for weekly trash removal instead of hauling their trash to the dump themselves, as most Valley residents did and I still do. It was a convenient proposal: Nick owned the town's garbage truck company. I opposed that.

Nick was the de facto leader of the council, but he became extremely annoyed when I didn't vote the way he did. That didn't bother me; I had to live with my own conscience, so I voted according to my principles and let the chips fall where they may. A vote on garbage seems like small potatoes. But it was not a small thing to me. I wanted our local government to position itself on the side of the people and preserve their freedom so that Wasilla could progress, and not restrict opportunities.

Source: Going Rogue, by Sarah Palin, p. 65-66 Nov 17, 2009

2006: Small donors;returned checks with conflict of interest

[In my first campaign in 1992], without knowing that I was setting the pattern for years to come, I ran an ultra-grassroots campaign with hand-lettered signs that read, POSITIVE-LY PALIN.

[In my 2006 campaign for governor], every part of our campaign shouted "Change!" A change in campaign financing: we ran on small donations from all over the state, mostly from first-time political donors, and we turned back some large checks from big donors if we perceived conflicts of interest. A change from photo-op stops to honest conversations with actual voters. A change from emphasizing politics to emphasizing people. A change from smooth talk to straight talk--even then.

We were amused a couple of years later when Barack Obama adopted the same theme. My campaign manager and I joked about it. "Hey! We were change even when change wasn't cool!"

Source: Going Rogue, by Sarah Palin, p. 64&114 Nov 17, 2009

Refused per diem expenses for housing and First Family

[As Governor], I asked my own staff to develop efficiencies and gave them budget-cutting goals. And I didn't exempt the First Family from this. We saved tens of thousands of dollars in our very first year by discontinuing the perks like fancy meals. (As I would go on to say in my VP nomination acceptance speech, my kids still hold that against me).

When I was outside Juneau, I accepted the normal meal per diem of $60 but refused the per diem checks for the other six eligible First Family members, and we refused the housing per diem as well.

We slashed living expenses, and I drove myself to the Anchorage office and to most meetings and events. I was never paid to sleep in my own home, and I accepted only a meal per diem, despite what some critics would later accuse me of doing.

This while Juneau's own legislators, who lived right there in town, pocketed more than $20,000 in food and housing per diem payments in just one year.

Source: Going Rogue, by Sarah Palin, p.147-148 Nov 17, 2009

As Gov., avoided "high-end, robe-and-slippers" hotels

[In the VP campaign], when the stylists helped me take a closer look at the clothes, the price tags almost knocked my eyes out. I noticed that instead of a decent $7 pair of nylons, one fancy package's price tag read $70.

At one point, my daughter aske a campaign staffer, "Who's paying for all this?" The staffer said, "Don't know. But it's taken care of. It's part of the convention."

I also wasn't used to the beautiful hotels we enjoyed on the campaign trail. In Wasilla, we have the Best Western Inn on Lake Lucille. We've used it for years, for everything from town hall to the high school prom.

As Governor, when I traveled on state business, I made frugality a point, asking for only reasonably priced rooms. So it wasn't often that we had the whole high-end, robe-and-slippers hotel treatment.

I especially wasn't used to over-the-top perks, such as the flat-screen TV inside the bathroom mirror, an innovation that drew cries of "Way cool!" from my girls.

Source: Going Rogue, by Sarah Palin, p.230-233 Nov 17, 2009

FactCheck: Yes, usually chose frugal travel, but not always

PALIN: Says she made frugality a point when traveling on state business as Alaska governor, asking "only" for reasonably priced rooms and not "often" going for the "high-end, robe-and-slippers" hotels.

THE FACTS: Although travel records indicate she usually opted for less-pricey hotels while governor, Palin and daughter Bristol stayed five days and four nights at the $707.29-per-night Essex House luxury hotel (robes and slippers come standard) overlooking New York City's Central Park for a five-hour women's leadership conference in October 2007. With air fare, the cost to Alaska was well over $3,000. Event organizers said Palin asked if she could bring her daughter. The governor billed her state more than $20,000 for her children's travel, including to events where they had not been invited, and in some cases later amended expense reports to specify that they had been on official business.

Source: AP Fact Check about "Going Rogue", in NY Times Nov 13, 2009

FactCheck: Over half of her campaign funded by large donors

PALIN: Boasts that she ran her campaign for governor on small donations, mostly from first-time givers, and turned back large checks from big donors if her campaign perceived a conflict of interest.

THE FACTS: Of the roughly $1.3 million she raised fo her primary and general election campaigns for governor, more than half came from people and political action committees giving at least $500, according to an AP analysis of her campaign finance reports. The maximum that individual donors could give was $1,000; $2,000 for a PAC. Of the rest, about $76,000 came from Republican Party committees.

She accepted $1,000 each from a state senator and his wife in the weeks after the Republican lawmakers' offices were raided by the FBI as part of an investigation into a powerful Alaska oilfield services company. After AP reported those donations during the presidential campaign, she said she would give a comparative sum to charity after the general election in 2010, a date set by state election laws

Source: AP Fact Check about "Going Rogue", in NY Times Nov 13, 2009

FactCheck: Criticized conflict of interest, but did the same

PALIN: Writes about a city councilman in Wasilla, Alaska, who owned a garbage truck company and tried to push through an ordinance requiring residents of new subdivisions to pay for trash removal instead of taking it to the dump for free--this to illustrate conflicts of interest she stood against as a public servant.

THE FACTS: As Wasilla mayor, Palin pressed for a special zoning exception so she could sell her family's $327,000 house, then did not keep a promise to remove a potential fire hazard on the property. She asked the city council to loosen rules for snow machine races when she and her husband owned a snow machine store, and cast a tie-breaking vote to exempt taxes on aircraft when her father-in-law owned one. But she stepped away from the table in 1997 when the council considered a grant for the Iron Dog snow machine race in which her husband competes.

Source: AP Fact Check about "Going Rogue", in NY Times Nov 13, 2009

Overall reduction of 7% spending, plus state hiring freeze

Unless the price of a barrel of oil dramatically increases, soon, we're looking at a potential revenue shortfall in excess of a billion dollars this year. So with a close eye on price, we need to be willing to curtail spending as needed. If there's a shortfall, there are options. It'll take a cooperative spirit all around to see us through the uncertainty.

I had proposed we start with an overall reduction of seven percent from last year's expenditures. This is a real reduction, not just a reductio in the rate of spending increases--as cuts are often defined elsewhere. That's transparency in budgeting--just as the public saw when we put the state's checkbook online. We stand ready to work with lawmakers--who hold the purse strings--to amend the budget, as we receive revenue updates in weeks ahead.

I am implementing a hiring freeze, exempting public safety, and I am restricting non-essential purchases. These actions reduce the draw on savings as we monitor revenue for the rest of 2009.

Source: Alaska 2009 State of the State Address Jan 22, 2009

Agrees with Cheney that VP as executive is flexible

Q: You mentioned that the constitution might give the vice president more power than it has in the past. Do you believe as V.P. Cheney does, that the Executive Branch does not hold complete sway over the office of the vice presidency, that it is also a member of the Legislative Branch?

PALIN: Our founding fathers were very wise there in allowing through the Constitution much flexibility there in the office of the vice president. Yeah, so I do agree with him that we have a lot of flexibility in there, and we’ll do what we have to do to administer very appropriately the plans that are needed for this nation.

BIDEN: Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we’ve had probably in American history. The vice president works in the Executive Branch. The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is when there is a tie vote. The idea he’s part of the Legislative Branch is a bizarre notion invented by Cheney to aggrandize the power of a unitary executive.

Source: 2008 Vice Presidential debate against Sen. Joe Biden Oct 2, 2008

Many Supreme Court rulings are better addressed by states

Q: What other Supreme Court decisions do you disagree with?

A: Well, let’s see. There’s, of course in the great history of America there have been rulings, that’s never going to be absolute consensus by every American. And there are those issues, again, like Roe v. Wade, where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So you know, going through the history of America, there would be others...

Q: Can you think of any?

A: Well, I could think of ... any again, that could be best dealt with on a more local level. Maybe I would take issue with. But, you know, as mayor, and then as governor and even as a vice president, if I’m so privileged to serve, wouldn’t be in a position of changing those things but in supporting the law of the land as it reads today.

Source: 2008 CBS News presidential interview with Katie Couric Oct 1, 2008

No state-mandated religion, but public faith is ok

Q: Thomas Jefferson wrote about the First Amendment, building a wall of separation between church and state. Why do you think that’s so important?

A: His intention in expressing that was so that government did not mandate a religion on people. And Thomas Jefferson also said never underestimate the wisdom of the people. And the wisdom of the people, I think in this issue is that people have the right and the ability and the desire to express their own religious views, be it a very personal level, which is why I choose to express my faith, or in a more public forum. And the wisdom of the people, thankfully, engrained in the foundation of our country, is so extremely important. And Thomas Jefferson wanted to protect that.

Source: 2008 CBS News presidential interview with Katie Couric Oct 1, 2008

McCain is maverick who wants to reform government

Q: What are your example of McCain supporting reform?

A: I think that the example of McCain’s warnings two years ago about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac--that’s paramount. That’s more than a heck of a lot of other senators and representatives did for us. He’s also known as the maverick though, taking shots from his own party, and certainly taking shots from the other party. Trying to get people to understand what he’s been talking about--the need to reform government.

Source: 2008 CBS News presidential interview with Katie Couric Sep 24, 2008

Alienated legislators by line-item-vetoing their projects

As governor, Palin has line item veto power, and her first year in office, she used it to veto a lot of projects that had community support. She did it without asking questions about the projects and what they meant to communities. In some cases, killing a $500,000 from the state budget would kill a multi-million project that got funding from other sources.

Under past governors, there was lots of conversation in committees that revolved around knowing what the governor would or would not support and proceeding accordingly. However, during Governor Palin’s tenure, legislators would try to support projects (especially because state revenue was high), but Governor Palin would use her line-item veto to veto them without telling the local sponsor. This was very embarrassing to legislators, and she alienated many in the legislature because of it.

Source: Phone interview with Anne Kilkenny, resident of Wasilla AK Sep 21, 2008

Regulate for people & against cronyism & lobbyists

Q: 354 lawmakers got money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. If you look at the years from 1989 to 2008, the second top recipient was Senator Barack Obama. Should there be an investigation in terms of the relationship between the political donations and then the bankruptcy that ensued and the impact on the economy?

A: I think that’s significant, but even more significant is the role that the lobbyists play in an issue like this also. And in that cronyism--it’s symptomatic of the greater problem that we see right now in Washington and that is just that acceptance of the status quo, the politics as usual, the cronyism that has been allowed to be accepted and then it leads us to a position like we are today with so much collapse on Wall Street. That’s the reform that we’ve got to get in there and make sure that this happens. We’ve got to put government and these regulatory agencies back on the side of the people.

Source: 2008 Fox News interview on “Hannity & Colmes” Sep 17, 2008

Only independent mavericks can reform Washington

Q: You & Sen. McCain want to eliminate earmarks; to reduce government spending; to keep taxes low; to reform government. Many people have gone to Washington & they’ve made these promises, especially when it comes to cutting spending and it doesn’t happen Look how partisan it is in Washington right now. How do you get that accomplished?

A: Yes, it is gridlock and that’s ridiculous. That’s why we don’t have an energy policy. That’s why there hasn’t been the reform of the abuse of the earmark process. And real reform is tough and you do ruffle feathers along the way. But John McCain has that streak of independence in him that I think is very, very important in America today in our leadership. I have that within me also. And that’s why John McCain tapped me to be a team of mavericks, of independents coming in there without the allegiances to that cronyism, to that good ol’ boy system.

Source: 2008 Fox News interview on “Hannity & Colmes” Sep 17, 2008

Small town mayors are on front lines of accountability

Q: Senator Obama is clearly upset at your speech at the Republican National Convention when you took on “community organizers.” Some of his critics think that was over the line.

A: Oh, I certainly didn’t mean to hurt his feelings. Didn’t mean to offend any community organizers, either. I do have respect for those who have chosen public service. And what I was doing though, certainly, should be obvious, was directing a comment to him as he had taken a shot at small mayors across the nation.

Q: So it’s payback?

A: You know, mayors of small towns, they’re on the front lines. They’re held accountable every single day that they are in office with real responsibilities that do demand that accountability and invite accountability.

Source: 2008 Fox News interview on “Hannity & Colmes” Sep 17, 2008

Never been part of an Alaska secessionist party

Q: Have you ever been part of an effort to have Alaska secede from the Union?

A: No. False. Always been a Republican, not been a part of a party that has wanted to secede.

Source: 2008 Fox News interview on “Hannity & Colmes” Sep 17, 2008

Shook up the good-ol’ boys network with major ethics reform

Politics isn’t just a game of clashing parties and competing interests. The right reason is to challenge the status quo, to serve the common good, and to leave this nation better than we found it.

No one expects us to agree on everything. But we are expected to govern with integrity, good will, clear convictions, and ... a servant’s heart.

I pledge to all Americans that I will carry myself in this spirit as vice president of the United States. This was the spirit that brought me to the governor’s office, when I took on the old politics as usual in Juneau ... when I stood up to the special interests, the lobbyists, big oil companies, and the good-ol’ boys network.

Sudden and relentless reform never sits well with entrenched interests and power brokers. That’s why true reform is so hard to achieve. But with the support of the citizens of Alaska, we shook things up. I came to office promising major ethics reform, to end the culture of self-dealing. And today, that ethics reform is the law.

Source: Speech at 2008 Republican National Convention Sep 3, 2008

Vetoed nearly half a billion dollars in wasteful spending

Sen. McCain promises to use the power of veto in defense of the public interest--and as a chief executive, I can assure you it works. Our state budget is under control. We have a surplus. And I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending: nearly half a billion dollars in vetoes.
Source: Speech at 2008 Republican National Convention Sep 3, 2008

McCain: She’s a soul-mate who implemented ethics reform

Q: Of all the people you could have chosen, can you honestly say that Sarah Palin is the best person to put a heartbeat away from the presidency?

McCAIN: Oh, yes. She’s a partner and a soul-mate. She’s a reformer. I don’t particularly enjoy the label “maverick,” but when somebody takes on the old bulls in her own party, runs against an incumbent governor of her own party, stands up against the oil and gas interests--it’s a remarkable person. And I’ve watched her record, and I’ve watched her for many, many years as she implemented ethics and lobbying reforms. And she didn’t just vote for it. She led it. I’ve seen her take on her own party. One thing I know is that when you take on your own party in Washington, you pay a price for it. And she has taken on the party in her own state. She took on a sitting governor and defeated him. And so I’m so pleased and proud, because this is a person who will help me reform Washington and change the way they do business. And that’s what Americans want.

Source: 2008 Fox News interview: “Choosing the President” series Aug 31, 2008

Individuals make better decisions than government

Q: What would you change in the Republican party platform?

A: The planks in our party’s platform--they are solid. They are the right agenda for America. The planks [include] respect for equality and respect for life and an acknowledgment that it is individual Americans and American families who can make better decisions for ourselves than government can ever make for us. So individual freedom and independence is extremely important to me, and there are planks in our platform that reflect that.

Source: Q&A with Time Magazine’s Jay Newton Small Aug 14, 2008

VECO scandal & Stevens indictment shows need for GOP cleanup

Q: In Alaska, the so-called “culture of corruption”--this energy services company VECO buying favors for state and federal contracts. People linked to VECO--a couple of state legislators--have been convicted, a couple more being investigated. And Senator Ted Stevens has now been caught in that loop.

A: Sen. Stevens’ indictment was very dismaying. Hopefully the Ted Stevens issues won’t be a distraction. But yeah, lots and lots of damage has been done by this oil industry service company, VECO. Not good for Alaska.

Q: What about the Republican Party in general? It seems to me the GOP has just got to cleanse itself of all the pork barrel, corruption, lobbying, cash-for-favors that cost them the Congress back in November 2006.

A: You’re absolutely right on the cleaning that’s needed in our party, in the Republican Party. And you know, I think Senator McCain is on the right track with the earmark reform that he’s so adamant about. I’m right there with him.

Source: CNBC “Kudlow & Company” Interview Jul 31, 2008

Comprehensive ethics reform: change politics as usual

Gov. Palin today signed House Bill 109 into law. The legislation improves Alaska’s ethics and disclosure laws. “It was so gratifying to be a part of a bipartisan effort, where the focus was on doing the right thing for the people of Alaska,” said Gov. Palin. “Comprehensive ethics reform was a priority of mine. HB 109 is a good first step toward changing the culture of politics as usual.”
Source: Alaska Governor’s Office: Press release 07-162 “Ethics Bill” Jul 9, 2007

Presented comprehensive ethics bill in early 2007

Keeping her campaign promise to govern in an open and transparent fashion, Gov. Palin presented an ethics bill to the Legislature on Jan. 24. The comprehensive bill tightens ethics within the executive branch, but touches upon all public servants. The bill mandates more detail in financial disclosure, encourages electronic access, further defines conflicts of interest, bans gifts from lobbyists, and tightens certain employment restrictions after leaving office.
Source: Alaska Governor’s Office: press release, “100th Day” Mar 13, 2007

Sell previous governor’s jet on eBay--it’s impractical

Governor Sarah Palin today [decided] to sell the jet that was purchased by former Governor Frank Murkowski’s administration. The Westwind II will be put up for auction on eBay. “The purchase of the jet was impractical and unwise and it’s time to get rid of it,” said Governor Palin. “In the meantime, I am keeping my promise not to set foot on the jet.”

The State has successfully used eBay in the past to sell State assets, including a former Marine Highways ferry, and several Public Safety aircraft. The State’s surplus property disposal policy is to use eBay for high value, mobile assets because it offers the widest possible exposure for these types of sales, at a low cost.

The jet was purchased for $2,692,600 in November 2005 by the Murkowski administration. Until final sale, Governor Palin has authorized the Department of Public Safety to use the jet for suitable operational purposes.

Source: Alaska Governor’s Office: Press release 06-006A, “E-Bay” Dec 12, 2006

Attended numerous debates & did not avoid any unnecessarily

[With regards to the previous BP debate]: What I did out there in Wasilla also, I was able to apply those Rotarian values, that four-way test about truthfulness and fairness. And I wish that that applied to state politics and to campaigns. Just yesterday, a real quick example of how the nature of the beast of politics is so far from that four-way test of Rotarians, it’s so unfortunate.

Yesterday--at the BP forum--I was invited weeks ago to show up. Well, I’d already met with the BP group. I just met with the president of BP. Wasn’t able to re-arrange my schedule to get there yesterday. And I get home last night and all over the news is ‘Sarah was a no show. She wasn’t at the debate.’ “There’s a sign out front making it look like I was supposed to be there and I wasn’t. But I wasn’t supposed to be there.

Source: Alaska 2006 Governor Debate: at Anchorage Rotary Oct 31, 2006

Sarah Palin on Bridge to Nowhere

Replaced “Bridge to Nowhere” with improved ferry system

Q: On “The Bridge to Nowhere.” Did you rigidly support it and did you change your view on it?

A: Well, I killed the Bridge to Nowhere. And you know, I think I ruffled some feathers there, also, with our congressman who had been requesting that bridge for so many years. What we needed to do up there in Alaska, was find some good transportation between the two land bodies there. And we did. We found that with an improved ferry system between Ketchikan and its airport. But, the Bridge to Nowhere is, as I’ve been saying in my speeches, if it’s something that Alaskans really want and support, which at this time, they’re not willing to support to such an extent that we’ll pay for it ourselves, we better kill the bridge because we know the rest of the nation’s not going to pay for it.

Source: 2008 Fox News interview on “Hannity & Colmes” Sep 17, 2008

Killed “bridge to nowhere” project as unneeded

Q: You met with Palin face to face for the first time to discuss the vice presidential ticket, and then you offered her the job. Must have been a heck of a meeting?

McCAIN: I’ve been watching her. What she has been doing in Alaska has affected the representation in Washington. We’ve fought against the same adversaries, the same challenges. Look, we couldn’t get the “bridge to nowhere” out, although we tried.

Q: This was the big pork barrel project.

McCAIN: Yes, the pork barrel project, a $233 million bridge in Alaska to an island with 50 people on it. She, as governor, stood up and said, we don’t need it, and if we need it, we’ll pay for it ourselves. Now, that’s guts. I saw that, and I said, this, this is what we need in Washington.

Source: 2008 Fox News interview: “Choosing the President” series Aug 31, 2008

Supported infamous “Bridge to Nowhere”; now criticizes it

Although she would later criticize Congressional earmarks like Alaska’s infamous “Bridge to Nowhere,” proposed for the town of Ketchikan at a cost of about $400 million, as mayor she began the practice of making annual trips to Washington to press for them on behalf of their town.
Source: New York Times, pp. A1 & A10, “An Outsider Who Charms” Aug 29, 2008

Fight “bridge to nowhere” and all earmarks

[On earmark reform], here in Alaska, our administration canceled that “bridge to nowhere.” We know that that earmark wasn’t in the nation’s best interest. So we’re going to be a part of that reform also. It’s absolutely necessary or the Republican agenda which I do believe is the right agenda for Alaska and for [America].
Source: CNBC “Kudlow & Company” Interview Jul 31, 2008

Supports state funding for Gravina Island bridge

Q: Would you continue state funding for the proposed Knik Arm and Gravina Island bridges? [Note: The Gravina Island bridge later became known as the “Bridge to Nowhere”]

A: Yes. I would like to see Alaska’s infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now--while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist.

Source: Anchorage Daily News: 2006 gubernatorial candidate profile Oct 22, 2006

Other candidates on Government Reform: Sarah Palin on other issues:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Social Security
Tax Reform

Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010