Let's assume that John McCain did in fact have Alaska Governor Sarah Palin thoroughly vetted before selecting her as his running mate. One can only further assume then that he really savors a challenge, because in addition to the more high-profile news that has leaked about the Governor over the weekend, several questions have been raised about just how ethically sound this "reformer's" credentials are.
Up first is her shall we say "malleable" position on earmark spending. On Friday, in her first speech as John McCain's running mate Palin said she wanted to combat wasteful earmark spending. Yet with Palin at the helm, Alaska has requested nearly $200 million in earmark spending this year and she's not been shy about pursuing that funding in the past.
Palin has recently been publicly critical of requests made in past years by Stevens and others for $223 million in federal funds for a bridge from Ketchikan, Alaska, to Gravina Island, calling it "the Bridge to Nowhere," a derogatory label critics attached to the project.
As a candidate for governor in 2006, she backed funding for the bridge.
After her election, however, she killed the project, saying she would use the federal funds for other purposes.
As mayor of the small city of Wasilla, Alaska, Palin appears to have made use of the system she now decries, hiring a Washington lobbyist, Steven Silver, to represent the town. Years ago, Silver worked as an aide to Stevens.
After he was hired, the city obtained funding for several projects, including a city bus facility that received an earmark valued at $600,000 in 2002. That year a local water and sewer project received $1.5 million in federal earmarks, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog organization.
And then this surfaced: Palin's link to one of the more poisonous names in politics, Jack Abramoff. While Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska (pop. 6,700) and in pursuit of $27 million in federal earmarks to which she now says she's opposed, Palin hired a lobbyist named Steven Silver. Around the same time Silver was working to pull in money for Wasilla he also had as a client the firm of Greenberg Traurig -- Abramoff's firm. On their behalf Silver lobbied on Native American tribal gaming issues, Jack's pet project (Ralph Reed was part of the same team).