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Alaska paid for Palin daughters to travel

Associated Press / October 22, 2008
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ANCHORAGE - Governor Sarah Palin charged the state for her children to travel with her, including to events where they were not invited, and she later amended expense reports to specify that they were on official business.

The charges included costs for hotel and commercial flights for three daughters to join Palin to watch their father in a snowmobile race, and a trip to New York, where the governor attended a five-hour conference and stayed with 17-year-old daughter Bristol for five days and four nights in a luxury hotel.

In all, Palin has charged the state $21,012 for her three daughters' 64 one-way and 12 round-trip commercial flights since she took office in December 2006. In some other cases, she has charged the state for hotel rooms for the girls.

Alaska law does not specifically address expenses for a governor's children, but allows for payment of expenses for anyone conducting official state business. State Finance Director Kim Garnero told The Associated Press she has not reviewed the Palins' travel expense forms, so could not say whether the daughters' travel with their mother would meet the definition of official business.

Palin justified having the state pay for the travel of her daughters - Bristol, 14-year-old Willow, and 7-year-old Piper - by noting on travel forms that the girls had been invited to attend or participate in events on the governor's schedule. After she was picked by John McCain as his running mate and reporters asked for the records, Palin ordered changes to previously filed expense reports. In the amended reports, Palin added phrases such as "First Family attending" and "First Family invited" to explain the girls' attendance.

Taylor Griffin, a McCain-Palin campaign spokesman, said Palin followed state policy allowing governors to charge for their children's travel.

But some organizers of the events said they were surprised when the Palin children showed up uninvited, or said they agreed to a request by the governor to allow the children to attend. Several other organizers said the children accompanied their mother and did not participate.

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