In 2000, Sarah Palin, as mayor of the Alaskan town of Wasilla, hired a Washington lobbyist to secure federal earmarks for her community.
This is not totally atypical in her state. Alaska’s government receives more money per capita in federal earmark money than any other state, despite being the only state in the union with no income tax and no sales tax. They fund their government primarily with petroleum money, and recently distributed oil profits to its citizens in the form of rebate checks.
But even in her heavily earmarked state, Sarah Palin was the earmark queen.
An analysis of the databases of Taxpayers for Common Sense by Center for American Progress Action Fund Senior Fellow Scott Lilly puts these numbers in perspective.
He notes the following amounts:
—$50: The amount the average state received in earmarked funds, per capita in 2008
—$506: The amount received by Alaska’s citizen per capita in 2008, represented by the Senate’s earmarker in chief, Ted Stevens, ten times the national average
—Over $1000: The annual amount received per capita in Wasilla between 2000 and 2003, twice the 2008 Alaska state average
Some of these earmarks drew the scorn of Senator John McCain. The LA Time reports that, “three times in recent years, McCain’s catalogs of ‘objectionable’ spending have included earmarks for this small Alaska town, requested by its mayor at the time — Sarah Palin.”
As Scott Lilly writes, “Palin has advertised herself as a reformer and a skeptic of earmarking while maneuvering to become the earmark queen of the earmark state.”