And the ironies just won't stop. This week we find ourselves listening to Sarah Palin complaining that her almost son-in-law Levi Johnston a) is desperate for attention, b) is capitalizing from showing off his body and c) is a big fat liar. So says the spotlight-craving, truth-challenged former beauty pageant contestant.
We also learned this week that 55% of Americans find Palin to be "honest and trustworthy." Apparently 55% of Americans haven't been watching Palin's shenanigans back in her home state. From long before Troopergate to the present day, Palin has found herself treading an ethical line, and often stepping right across it without a second thought.
On October 26, the ex-governor submitted her final set of financial disclosure documents to the Alaska Public Offices Commission. And if nobody had been looking, that unremarkable partly hand-written submission would doubtless have passed into history and gone to that great big pile of government documents in the sky. But one thing that Palin has done for the state of Alaska, is awaken a sleeping giant - the citizen watchdog. Thanks to her questionable ethics, there is now an entire pack of them who pay close attention to the things that might otherwise pass under the radar.
Remember those pesky bloggers and ethics complainers and ankle-biters that Palin claimed had driven her out of office? Them.
Blue Oasis blogger Linda Kellen Biegel has been keeping an eagle eye on Palin's financial disclosures, and has come up with an excellent analysis of the current situation. She lays out some pretty compelling evidence (below) that "honest and trustworthy" may not in fact be the most accurate description of the ex-governor or the ex-First Dude.
Sarah Palin filed her final POFD (Public Officer Financial Disclosure) on time according to APOC (Alaska Public Offices Commission) rules.
However, the document was less than thorough.
In Part One, we talked about how Palin failed to disclose a trust worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. In Part Two, we'll look at the evidence that proves Sarah Palin is being less-than-truthful about Arctic Cat and Todd's other Iron Dog sponsors.
The whole "Arctic Cat" issue began with:
This all led to a simple question asked by Andree McLeod during public testimony at an APOC meeting:
You (Sarah Palin) have reported a "discount on snow machines" by Arctic Cat for Todd Palin. Was this discount exercised during calendar year 2008 and what was the amount of it?
Ms. McLeod was referring to Palin's Financial Disclosure for calendar year 2008. The only thing disclosed as coming from the Arctic Cat sponsorship was a "50% discount" on a snowmachine and no actual monetary figure was included. This violates APOC's requirement that anything over $1,000.00 needs to include the value if it was higher than $1,000.00.
As a result, APOC sent that question in the form of a "letter of inquiry" to Sarah Palin and received a response back claiming the amount of the snowmachine discount was "50% of the factory cost" and was therefore a "trade secret."
APOC rejected that claim and gave Palin a deadline to report the information.
Palin/Van Flein responded, now claiming ignorance as to the details of the contract, even though some of the details were revealed in the previous letter and even more of the contract details were shared in this one. For example:
-The racers receive their Arctic wear for free while for others (through them) it was 50% discount and,
-Todd Palin receives a "sponsorship fee."
The APOC Staff made a recommendation, somehow coming to the conclusion that Palin had "revealed enough."
The Commission rather soundly rejected the staff recommendation during their September meeting and instead tasked them with finding out even more information from the Palins, including the amount of the "sponsorship fee" described in the last letter from Van Flein/Palin to the APOC.
This is where the investigation of last year's Financial Disclosure form stands at this moment.
This brings us back to Monday's "Final" Financial Disclosure.
Regarding the Iron Dog and sponsorship benefits for the Palins--according to the paperwork, the only mention of ANYTHING Iron Dog (other than listing Todd's "winnings" as $3,500.00) is identifying Arctic Cat as a sponsor. The only monetary value: "Arctic Cat discount on snowmachines is $3,252.00". So, the Palin's are claiming that the extent of Arctic Cat sponsorship value to Todd Palin is $3,252.
That's an interesting figure for a few reasons:
1) On Palin's Financial Disclosure for calendar year 2007, she lists the total value of the Arctic Cat sponsorship as $7,500.00. That was the year that Davis/Palin won the Iron Dog and the rewards for that win should have been reaped during the 2008 race...the year that Palin failed to attach ANY monetary value to the Arctic Cat sponsorship. 2008 was also the year that Sarah was the Republican VP candidate. The Palins are asking us to believe that the value of the Arctic Cat sponsorship has GONE DOWN by over $4,000.00 AFTER their latest win and the former-Gov's new national stature?
2) They have still dodged listing that pesky "sponsorship fee" that already has them under investigation for last year's POFD. During the September APOC meeting, the other Commissioners were enlightened by Commissioner Frederick, a lawyer from Wasilla who also happens to be "musher savvy" about sponsorships:When discussion ensued, Commissioner Frederick asked a list of salient questions based on the the most recent letter:--The second paragraph states that: "In addition, the company pays a sponsorship fee and gives Team Arctic Wear to the Racing Team." Frederick explained that she had not really noticed that line before and in the discussion, proceeded to explain that sponsorship fees as high as $40,000 and $50,000 are not unheard of, especially considering the winning record and the high-profile of the Davis/Palin team. When asked if Palin/Van Flein had ever revealed that amount, Jerry Anderson admitted they had not.
I believe that this non-disclosure may turn out to be by far the most significant.
3) As low-ball as the disclosed Arctic Cat figure may be, it is still higher than the $1,000. requirement for APOC disclosure. Remember, Palin did not disclose a monetary figure for Arctic Cat for Calendar Year 2008, giving the impression that their monetary value was under $1,000.00. In other words, we would have to believe that the snowmachine Todd Palin used last year in 2008, the year after his Iron Dog win would have been much lower quality than the one they used in 2009.
4) The Palin's are attempting to pass off their sponsorship discounts as the actual "value" of the item. This is not correct. In the instructions on filling out the POFD form, Section #6 is for listing "other income" and Section #7 is for "gifts." The instructions for "other income" state: "Report the source and amount of any other income over $1,000 not reported elsewhere." However, the section on "gifts" states: "Type, source & value of gifts worth over $250. Include multiple gifts from one source if they exceed $250."
Sponsorship actually combines the two. A sponsorship deal includes a substantially discounted price for merchandise in exchange for the high-profile advertising of the successful race team. The actual retail value of the mechandise is the income being exchanged. In other words, they should be listing the "value" of the snowmachine as income, not the 50% they didn't have to pay after the price was already lowered to the factory cost per the contract (that Palin claims she has never seen)!
The extremely low monetary value listed for the Arctic Cat sponsorship AND the absence of any other sponsorship names defies logic in comparison to the past two POFD's and for the other reasons listed above. It also flies in the face of all evidence pointing to Davis/Palin having recently hit sponsorship gold...or maybe platinum according to the sponsorship levels on their website. Per Sports Illustrated:
Some Iron Doggers have spent upwards of $30,000 to finance a once-in-a-lifetime run into the wild heart of Alaska. Tapping their credit cards, they've shelled out $10,000 each for a 2009 snow machine, $10,000 more for an identical training sled, $2,500 for the race entry fee and a few thousand more for trailing airplane support. Palin and Davis, in contrast, have spent almost nothing. They are prodigiously sponsored, with their names monogrammed in script on their matching Arctic Cat jackets. (Palin even has the names of his five kids and his wife, SARAH, THE GOV, appliquéd on his snow machine hood.) They give inspirational speeches at trade shows. They are both adored and reviled. They are the New York Yankees of snow machining.
That one paragraph says so much, but I'd like to call your attention to the comment about the training sled. Again, per Sports Illustrated:
Behold Todd Palin's snow machine, dangling from a truck's winch in the icy gray murk of an Alaskan winter morning. The machine is gleaming, new, scarcely ridden.
"Scarcely ridden"...which would indicate he either a) doesn't train much or b) he has another machine to train on. We know the former isn't true, per People:
During each of the past 14 years, Todd has spent nearly two months training up to five hours a day for the 2,000-mile Iron Dog marathon. "He wouldn't do it if the family wasn't behind him," says Davis.
"Todd has been training a couple of hundred miles a day to get ready," Todd's racing partner, Scott Davis, a seven-time winner of the Iron Dog told PEOPLE. "We're ready."
Additionally, we have a picture from the Davis-Palin website. In a photo gallery titled "2009" I found a picture of these three identical Arctic Cat snowmachines (the ones they used during the Iron Dog 2009) at Scott Davis's place in Soldotna.
That's two for the race and one...errrr...extra? I suspect there are four but the fourth one is not in the picture. Luckily, Men's Journal can explain it to us:
Davis owns a major construction company with lucrative state contracts, and this building - a kind of gearhead paradise, Alaska Rich Guy Version - is the reward, with a 40-foot mobile home parked along one wall, a shiny four-wheel ATV, and room for Davis's dozen snowmobiles, or, as the locals call them, "snowmachines." Four new ones - identical Arctic Cat F6s - take up the main work area, two for Davis, a seven-time Iron Dog winner himself, and two for Palin.
Did anyone see a "training sled" listed on the POFD?
Other benefits caught by the media are a winch, a really nice trailer, and an Arctic Cat mechanic, per Sports Illustrated:
And then, a few hours later, Alaska's First Couple flies home to Wasilla, to resume normal life. Todd goes to his daughter Willow's basketball game. He tinkers with the boiler down in the basement, changes a water filter, and then gets together with Calvin Nolan, the Arctic Cat mechanic, to nail down what, exactly, went wrong.
There is also nothing mentioned on the POFD about transportation to speaking engagements or even the air and ground support costs on the Iron Dog Trail...hmmmm...
Remember..."Palin and Davis, in contrast, have spent almost nothing. They are prodigiously sponsored..."
And while we've been rightly questioning the true extent of the Arctic Cat sponsorship, let's not neglect to mention that Davis/Palin has MANY sponsors who reach the Silver, Gold or Platinum levels on their website. Of course, all financial information is devoid from the site however, you can tell who is at least at the "Silver" level by whose logo is actually at the top of the page.
Esquire Magazine, however, may have provided us with another sponsorship clue during their description of Davis/Palin getting the sleds ready for the 2009 race:
They've fitted them with additional gas tanks, sawed off pounds of extraneous metal and plastic, swapped in new Öhlins shocks, and made hundreds of other tiny tweaks and adjustments. The Öhlins cost about $2,500 a set, but they're worth it. You do this long enough and you learn where to scrimp and where to splurge.
I doubt there was any serious "splurging" going on since, if you check their website, Ohlins is at least a Silver sponsor of the team. More interestingly, even if their sponsorship agreement is the same as Arctic Cat, 50% off, that still puts those shocks over the $1000 disclosure amount! Where are they on the POFD form? How many of the rest of those Silver, Gold and Platinum sponsors should be listed in the disclosure?
I think this post, and my previous one talking about the trust worth hundreds of thousands of dollars that got left off the form, have made it extremely clear that what Sarah Palin tries to pass off as "disclosure" is simply a slap in the face to Alaskans. She may have attempted to follow the laws before her VP Candidacy but shows no sign of it anymore. She could potentially believe that no one can/will hold her accountable or maybe she just doesn't care, as she has no intention of paying any fines even if they were to be levied against her.
I guess we'll have to wait and see.
The media she accused of "makin' stuff up" seems to have uncovered a bunch of "stuff" that she was leaving out.
Photos can be viewed at Blue Oasis That's some pretty fancy equipment.
Follow Jeanne Devon (AKMuckraker) on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Mudflats