Rumor Watch: Governor Sarah Palin

Movie theater sign in Wasilla, Alaska showing support for Governor Palin for Vice President. CBS

CBS News Investigative Producer Laura Strickler reported and wrote this story for CBSNews.com.

Last week CBS News chased down rumors in Wasilla, Alaska. We're listing a few of them here to set the record straight.

Rumor: Governor Sarah Palin cut funding for special needs children.

False: Palin did not cut special needs funding. In fact, special needs budgets obtained by CBS News show her administration increased funding for special education by $599,000 between 2007 and 2008 according to the Alaska Department of Education. And the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services told CBS News that Palin increased state investment for programs for emotionally disturbed children and those dealing with fetal alcohol syndrome from $3.6 million to $10.7 million between fiscal years 2006 and 2009.

Rumor: A list of books that Mayor Palin sought to ban is being circulated on the internet.

False: No books were ever banned from the Wasilla Library. A 1996 local newspaper article quotes the local librarian Mary Ellen Baker (former name Emmons) with saying Palin inquired twice about how the librarian would respond to banning books. Emmons is quoted saying she made it clear to Palin that if asked, she would refuse to do so. In the story, Palin characterizes her inquiries as "rhetorical" in nature. However, as of this writing, Emmons is not talking and wants to stay out of the fray, so no one can confirm the story independently. But one thing is for sure: the list circulating on the internet is fake, it includes books like the Harry Potter series that were not even published in 1996.

Rumor: When Palin was mayor she hired a lobbyist to get more federal earmarks.

True: CBS News has obtained the lobbying contracts (link to docs here) that Palin signed to get the lobbyist - a former Senator Ted Stevens' staffer Steve Silvers. Documents show she sought money for the following:

$6.6 million for Wasilla water utility improvements
$3.2 million for urban storm water retention and lake water quality improvements
$90,000 for Wasilla Police Department safety equipment, communication needs and weapons

Wasilla City Council Action Memorandum On Federal Lobbyist Services
At the July 23, 2001 city council meeting, minutes obtained by CBS News indicate then Mayor Palin announced that the city would be getting federal grant funding for $1.5 million for water and sewer, $2.5 million for railroad relocation and $1.6 million for a police regional dispatch center.

In 2001, Palin personally appears to have reduced the size of the annual lobbying contract from $45,000 to $38,000 but no explanation is given. By 2002, the contract went back up to $42,000.

Rumor: Sarah and Todd Palin's business partner Scott Richter sought to have his divorce records sealed because he had something to hide.

False: Richter did appeal to a judge in Palmer, Alaska to seal his records citing concern for his own privacy since his phone number appeared in the documents and he wanted to avoid unnecessary phone calls from reporters. His request was denied but the rumor sent at least a dozen national reporters, including CBS News, to the courthouse. What did we turn up? Nothing.

By Laura Stricker
  • CBSNews

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