Reality Check: Sarah Palin's Claims

When John McCain introduced Gov. Sarah Palin, she not only was someone who shared his distaste for Congressional earmarks, all those direct, often hidden federal grants of tax dollars for local projects. She went on to claim she'd killed off one of the worst earmarks ever, a $233 million bridge from Ketchikan, Alaska, to Gravina Island.

"I told Congress, 'thanks, but no thanks,' on that bridge-to-nowhere," Palin said.

'No thanks' to that bridge? Here are the facts, as reported by CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews. Congress killed off the earmark well before Gov. Palin formally abandoned it. And while the bridge is in fact a dead project, the state still kept the money — all $233 million in federal funds — for other transportation needs.

The record also shows that two years ago, Palin supported the bridge.

"It's not true that she was always opposed to the bridge. If you go back to the things that she said when we was running for governor, she was an advocate," said Bill Adair, who edits PolitiFact.org and is the Washington bureau chief for the St. Petersburg Times.

Just like John McCain, Palin claims she's ending the waste that comes from earmark spending.

"And I championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress," she said.

Maybe she is against abusive earmarks, but she has not been against all earmarks.

The facts are: Under Gov. Palin, Alaska applied for $197 million of earmarks for the 2009 fiscal year. And when Palin was Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, population 6,500, she was a champion of earmarks. In her second term, ending in 2004, Mayor Palin hired a well connected lobbying firm, with offices just outside Washington, which helped the town take in $11.9 million worth of earmarks.

"She used the system, she hired lobbyists with connections to the powerful members of Congress from her state, and she was able to obtain a lot of money," said TK Alexander of the non-profit tax watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense.

The McCain campaign responds that Governor Palin, as mayor, was only "working within the current system to get funding for her city." But as governor, "knew the system didn't work, and ordered cutbacks in the state's requests."

Palin also faces a state investigation into why she fired the Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan - the allegation being she fired him for personal reasons, because Monegan refused to fire a state trooper, the ex-husband of Palin's sister.

Here are the facts: The state trooper in question made threats against the Governor's family, and was suspended from duty. But Governor Palin insists the firing of Commissoner Monegan was a completely separate issue, that Monegan was fired but for professional reasons related to the budget.
  • Wyatt Andrews

    Wyatt Andrews is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Washington D.C. He is responsible for tracking trends in politics, health care, energy, the environment and foreign affairs.

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