Have you ever seen a 1000-word Associated Press article on routine travel reimbursements for a federal witness? Me neither. But we’re talking about Governor Sarah Palin and her family here, so obviously special rules of journalistic discretion apply.
On Tuesday, the Associated Press and the Huffington Post felt it newsworthy to note that the Palin family members were, in fact, reimbursed for air travel and meals when they testified in the hacking trial of David Kernell in 2010. Kernell was convicted of one misdemeanor (unauthorized access to a computer) and one felony (obstruction of justice) when he hacked into Governor Palin’s official email account during the 2008 campaign. He has recently completed a 10-month sentence in a halfway house in Kentucky.
The government paid nearly $2,500 for Sarah Palin’s husband to come to the trial of a Tennessee college student who hacked into her email – even though Todd Palin never testified, court records show.
In all, the government paid more than $29,000 to fly members of the Palin family and other witnesses to Knoxville, send a prosecutor to Alaska for research and pay other travel expenses, according to the Department of Justice records obtained by The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act request. Air travel totaled about $18,600, and hotel bills amounted to nearly $3,300.
The thousands of dollars spent by prosecutors helped them win a conviction on one felony and one misdemeanor charge against David Kernell, who finishes his 10-month sentence on Wednesday. Prosecutors have said that Kernell’s punishment for the hacking during Palin’s failed 2008 vice presidential bid should deter any hackers who considered targeting candidates in next fall’s presidential election.
The former Alaska governor, her daughter Bristol and an aide were among the witnesses called to the stand, but the chief prosecutor said he decided Todd Palin’s testimony wasn’t needed. Sarah and Bristol Palin told jurors that they felt harassed and their lives were disrupted after Kernell hacked into Sarah Palin’s Yahoo! email account and made screenshots public that included personal email addresses and cell phone numbers.
Records show Todd Palin received $2,244.30 as reimbursement for airfare from Alaska to Tennessee, along with $122 for meals and incidentals and an attendance fee of $120. He was listed as a fact witness.
“We subpoena a lot of witnesses that we think we might need,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Weddle said, adding that about a dozen witnesses in all were subpoenaed. “We decided his testimony was no longer necessary for purposes of trial.”
An attorney for the Palins, John Tiemessen of Fairbanks, Alaska, said in an email that Todd Palin was under subpoena and flew to Knoxville prepared to testify. Tiemessen declined to make Todd Palin available for comment, and an email seeking comment sent to Sarah Palin’s political action committee wasn’t immediately returned.
So, the Palins comply with a subpoena, fly to Knoxville, Tenn. to testify against the son of a Democrat state rep who hacked into her official email account, and receive compensation for their airfare from the federal government … and that’s somehow a newsworthy event?
There’s no other reason to write this article other than to try to smear the Palins. Todd Palin had no control over receiving a subpoena. He had to comply and fly to Tennessee. And the federal government reimbursed him for his travel, same as any other potential witness in a federal trial. Nothing to see there. Unless, of course, you think being summoned to fly to Knoxville, Tenn. to testify against the bastard who tried to dig up dirt on your wife is the equivalent to a taxpayer-funded junket to Caribbean.
But the reporter obviously had an ax to grind as this last paragraph showed:
Palin, who quit the Alaska governorship in 2009 midway through her term, was considered a possible GOP presidential candidate this year until – with polls showing her popularity with voters had waned – she announced that she was passing on the race.
This “halfway through her term” expression has always galled me. It’s a well-known fact that journalists don’t take math classes in college, but you would think that even math-challenged scribes can recognize that serving 32 out of 48 months is not “halfway” … it’s two-thirds, the same percentage that Obama served of his Senate term (not including the two-year break he spent campaigning). Don’t get me started on polls. Governor Palin actually had been climbing in the polls of late. One poll showed her in a near statistical dead heat with Obama. Who needs facts when you’re a journalist with an agenda?
We all recall how during the 2008 campaign the Washington Post spent a small fortune to research the travel expenses of Governor Palin and her family, only to discover that she spent 85% less than her predecessor, Republican Frank Murkowski.
Moreover, let’s all recall what Kernell did and his intention … He wanted to find dirt. And he also provided an opportunity for other nefarious individuals to upload phony photos and emails to make it look like there was actual dirt.
I read though the emails… ALL OF THEM… before I posted, and what I concluded was anticlimactic, there was nothing there, nothing incriminating, nothing that would derail her campaign as I had hoped, all I saw was personal stuff, some clerical stuff from when she was governor…. And pictures of her family.
Which means the only thing left to do is spin, spin, spin.