Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has charged her state a daily allowance, normally used for official travel, for more than 300 nights spent at her home, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
An analysis of travel statements filed by the governor, now John McCain's Republican running mate, shows she claimed the per diem allowance on 312 occasions when she was home in Wasilla and that she billed taxpayers $43,490 for travel by her husband and children.
Per diem payments are meant for meals and incidental expenses while traveling on state business. State officials told The Post her claims — nearly $17,000 over 19 months — were permitted because her "duty station" is Juneau, the capital, and she was in Wasilla 600 miles away.
Palin spends little time at the governor's mansion in Juneau, especially when the Legislature is out of session, and instead prefers to live in Wasilla and commute to her office in Anchorage.
I think the travel to and from Wasilla is arguably reasonable, depending on frequency, but per diem for meals and incidentals in Wasilla seems as wrong as if she were taking the per diem for meals and incidentals while staying in the governor's mansion.
UPDATE (September 15, 2008): The Palins haven't yet released their tax records, and it may be that she owes taxes on those per diems.