Ten questions to ask Sarah Palin
ASK THIS | October 23, 2008
Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's personal finances, and those of the city and state that she has run, have received little scrutiny from reporters, writes David Cay Johnston. Obvious issues have not been examined, including two items on her 2006 and 2007 tax returns that suggest the Palins cheated on their federal income taxes.
By David Cay Johnston
1. What are the reasons that you only released your tax returns for 2006 and 2007 -- and not from your years as the paid mayor of Wasilla?
2. How did your family build up more than $1 million in assets, given that as mayor you made $64,000 and your 2006 and 2007 income tax returns show that you and your husband together earned $128,000 in 2006 and $166,000 in 2007?
3. How did you finance the construction of your home, which you value at a half million dollars?
4. Will you show us the invoices from the contractors who built your home and copies of the front and back of the checks with which you paid them?
5. While you were running for state-wide office, your husband told Fox News, he "built" the home with his "contractor buddies." Will you make available your husband's travel records during the campaign?
6. How many hours between the start and completion of construction did your husband spend in physical labor such as pounding nails and fitting pipes while he "built" your home?
7. As governor you charged taxpayers for travel by your children, so as vice president would you also expect their travel expenses to be paid by taxpayers and, if so, what is your rationale?
8. Since you did not report these travel funds on your tax return as income, which a number of tax experts say is required, what is your rationale for this? And have you checked, since the release of your tax returns revealed this, whether you made the proper decision and, if so, with whom did you check? If you did check with a tax advisor will you authorize them to speak about this matter?
9. When elected Wasilla's mayor you announced you were taking a pay cut, from $68,000 to $64,000, and then hired the city's first professional city administrator at $50,000; what are the reasons that you hired a professional to do the work that previous mayors had done?
10. During your term as mayor a Wasilla sales tax was begun and the city went from being nearly debt-free to owing more than $22 million; please explain how this squares with your describing yourself as a fiscal conservative.
Governor Sarah Palin's personal finances, and those of the city and state that she has run, have received little scrutiny from reporters. Obvious issues have not been examined, including two items on her 2006 and 2007 tax returns that suggest the Pains cheated on their federal income taxes.
By merely picking up the telephone, reporter Wayne Barrett discovered that some of the contractors who worked on the Palin home were the same ones who built the City of Wasilla's hockey rink, the biggest municipal building project in that small city's history and one loaded down with at least $1.3 million in legal expenses because construction began before the city had title to the land underneath it. The responses some contractors gave Barrett suggested that they do not have records of invoices and payment, raising the question of whether they built the home so that they would get the hockey rink contracts.
How the Palins handled their income taxes, and how she made use of public funds, are legitimate questions of public interest and have been raised with candidates since before the founding of the republic, yet journalists covering this year's campaign have not filed reports indicating that they examined these issues beyond regurgitating official statements by the Palins and the McCain campaign.
David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer prize winner, is a columnist for Tax Analysts and teaches the law of the ancient world at Syracuse University’s law and graduate business schools. The Fine Print, the third book in his series about the American economy, is scheduled to be published in 2011 by Penguin.
Reply to SamTyler
10/27/2008, 12:48 AM
I love how SamTyler uses the typical right-wing debate tactic of seizing on a minor error and then using it to insinuate that the entire argument is wrong. Talk about the politics of distraction.
In this case, he tried to use my incorrect assertion that Rupert Murdoch owns the New York Daily News, which endorsed Sen. Obama, to somehow obviate the fact that about 25 other conservative-leaning papers have endorsed Barack Obama for the presidency of the United States of America. (For a complete listing of endorsements, go here: http://tinyurl.com/5o7hfh. ...Right now, Obama leads 160-59.)
OK, so Mort Zuckerman is the owner of the New York Daily News. But the billionaire Zuckerman is a well known and self-described conservative, as evidenced by his writings in US News & World Report and the Daily News, as well as his frequent appearances on the McLaughlin Report. And as stated, the Daily News endorsed George Bush in 2004. Thus it remains quite remarkably damning to Sen. McCain that the Daily News endorsed Barack Obama.