Commentary: Alaska shouldn't pay for partisan political trips

This editorial appeared in The Anchorage Daily News.

An investigator made short work last week of two ethics complaints against Gov. Sarah Palin. His conclusions made sense, given how the cases were framed.

But investigator Michael Geraghty and one of the complainants, Anthony Martin, never addressed one question about the governor's November trip to Georgia to campaign for Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

Why did the state of Alaska pay per diem expenses to Kris Perry, director of the governor's Anchorage office, for her time in Georgia?

According to spokeswoman Sharon Leighow, the Chambliss campaign covered travel and lodging expenses for the governor and Perry while they were in Georgia. But Leighow said the state paid per diem to Perry in Georgia because the trip qualified as state business.

State business? How's that?

The administration argues that Chambliss was a vote for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and his opponent wasn't.

We have no quarrel with Gov. Palin campaigning for someone outside Alaska. She's a national figure now.

But to describe her trip to Georgia as state business because Chambliss favors ANWR drilling is fig leaf cover at best. Supporting Alaska in a congressional issue is hardly grounds for using State of Alaska money to support one side in an election battle. With a standard that loose, a governor could spend an entire election season campaigning at state expense in all 435 House races and 33 Senate races.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Anchorage Daily News.

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