Forbes.com's Brian Wingfield asserted that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin "shares [Sen. John] McCain's opposition to earmarks." However, in a Juneau Empire op-ed, John Katz -- Alaska's director of state-federal relations and special counsel to Palin -- wrote that in 2008, the Palin administration "request[ed] 31 earmarks, down from 54 last year."
In an August 29 article, Forbes.com Washington bureau chief Brian Wingfield asserted that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin "shares [Sen. John] McCain's opposition to earmarks." However, in a March 18 Juneau Empire op-ed, John Katz -- Alaska's director of state-federal relations and special counsel to Palin -- wrote that in 2008, the Palin administration "request[ed] 31 earmarks, down from 54 last year."
From Katz's op-ed, which was highlighted by Bradford Plumer in an August 29 blog post on The New Republic's The Plank:
In my opinion, earmarks are not bad in themselves. In fact, they represent a legitimate exercise of Congress' constitutional power to amend the budget proposed by the president.
Recognizing there have been instances of earmark abuse, Congress has instituted reforms to bring greater transparency and accountability to the process. These include the identification of each earmark's sponsor and a prohibition against earmarks inserted into the budget without public discussion.
Recently, members of the Alaska congressional delegation announced they would post on their Web sites the earmark requests it receives. Gov. Sarah Palin has applauded this decision.
Earlier this year, President Bush and the congressional leadership announced that the total number and dollar amount of earmarks must be reduced significantly.
The Palin administration has responded to this message by requesting 31 earmarks, down from 54 last year. Of these, 27 involve continuing or previous appropriations and four are new. The total dollar amount of these requests has been reduced from about $550 million in the previous year to just less than $200 million.
Further, the governor has insisted that each Alaska request must demonstrate an important federal purpose and strong public support.
We also have heard that, wherever possible, a state or local match should be provided. The state's budget requests incorporate this principle.
So, it is important to note there is no longer a "free lunch" at the federal level. Most federal requests have state or local budget consequences as well.
The governor is very much aware of the importance of the federal budget to virtually every Alaskan. In responding to the new realities, we are not abandoning earmarks altogether but are seeking to constrain and document them in the ways discussed here.
Wingfield also wrote that Palin "oppos[ed] the infamous 'Bridge to Nowhere.' " However, Media Matters for America has noted that while Palin canceled the project for a proposed bridge between Ketchikan, Alaska, and Gravina Island in September 2007, Palin reportedly supported it during her 2006 gubernatorial campaign and suggested that Alaska's congressional delegation should continue to try to procure funding -- which was authorized by the federal government in 2005, but never appropriated -- for the project.
From Wingfield's August 29 Forbes.com article:
Palin also shares McCain's opposition to earmarks, opposing the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere," a pet project of two titans of Alaska politics, Rep. Don Young and Sen. Ted Stevens.
"I told Congress, 'Thanks, but no thanks' on that Bridge to nowhere," said Palin, who describes herself as a foe of the "good-old-boy network."