TCS, Post examine Palin’s pursuit of earmarks


The most interesting story on Alaska Gov. and Republican nominee for Vice President Sarah Palin is the Washington Post’s report that, as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, Palin “employed a lobbying firm to secure almost $27 million in federal earmarks for a town of 6,700 residents.” Our friends at Taxpayers for Common Sense provided the earmark analysis. Note who Palin hired:

As mayor of Wasilla, however, Palin oversaw the hiring of Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh, an Anchorage-based law firm with close ties to Alaska’s most senior Republicans: Rep. Don Young and Sen. Ted Stevens, who was indicted in July on charges of accepting illegal gifts. The Wasilla account was handled by the former chief of staff to Stevens, Steven W. Silver, who is a partner in the firm.

It’ll be interesting to see if this comes up at the debate between Palin and her Democratic counterpart, Sen. Joe Biden, whose son lobbied Sen. Barack Obama’s staff for an earmark.

Also worth noting that there’s a lot of lobbying by state and local governments, which use some of their taxpayer money to pry much more federal taxpayer money for their own states.

Update: Don’t know how I missed it before, but here’s the list of Wasilla earmarks, courtesy of our friends at Taxpyers for Common Sense. The Girdwood to Wasilla, Alaska, commuter rail project in fiscal year 2001, for $15 million, might be worth a closer look. My understanding is that commuter rail requires a pretty high population density in order to be practical.

Along those lines, hmmm….

In FY 2001, the Girdwood Commuter Rail Project (including North Anchorage) received a New Start earmark $14.9 million. B

    ecause the proposed New Starts share is less than $25 million, the project is exempt from the New Starts criteria, and is thus not subject to FTA’s evaluation and rating

(TEA-21 Section 5309(e)(8)(A)).

From Appendix A of the Proposed Allocation of Funds for Fiscal Year 2002 from the Federal Transit Administration. The emphasis is in the original document. Note also this:

The ARRC [Alaska Railroad Corporation] operates both freight and passenger service over the sections of trackage to be improved. The passenger service is primarily geared toward serving tourists between the months of May and September.

Population density might not be all that meaningful in determining the route’s practicality.

More: Interesting comment on this review about Alaska Railroad Corporation and the Wasilla line. Here’s a company history of the ARRC — note the extensive federal and state involvement throughout its history. Here’s what looks like a partial summary of ARCC’s lobbying — the rest is here.