Sarah Palin emails: Questions over per diem

Washington Bureau

On Sept. 11, 2008, when Sarah Palin was being deluged with inquiries by national reporters curious about the then-vice presidential candidate’s record as Alaska governor, Palin was preparing for an unspecified interview.

One of her staffers, Michael Nizich, wanted to make sure she was ready to answer questions about her per-diem payments from the state in case it came up. Questions had come in an email from a Washington Post reporter, who wanted to know about the per-diem payments she received from the state while staying in her Wasilla residence between Dec. 4, 2006 and June 30, 2008.

The reporter asked: Was the per diem “the same type paid to state employees for the purpose of covering lodging/meals/incidentals incurred while working away from home on state business?”

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Also, asked the reporter, “Does the state consider the per diem paid to the governor to be taxable income?”

The subject line of Nizich’s email: “Just some info we have used to counter comments on the per diem in case in comes up in your interview.”

The points he urged Palin to make: Palin had declined “First Family per diem reimbursements to date of $4,461.” Also, the state of Alaska had paid for an Anchorage apartment for former Gov. Frank Murkowski. Also, Murkowski’s travel in 2006 totaled $525,392. Palin had saved the state $97,000 by dismissing the chef at the governor’s mansion, and also saved the state an additional $96,000 in housing expenses. She had reduced her security detail, from seven to two, saving $125,000 in 2007.

“Governor Palin does not travel with an entourage.” Nizich wrote, and “Governor Palin prefers to drive herself – no chauffeur.”


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