Federal Politics

Published — August 29, 2008 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

The buying of Sarah Palin?


The Dems may be trying to tag John McCain as George W. Bush Jr., but McCain, with his pick of Sarah Palin for VP, is clearly trying to shore up his own image as a maverick who fights for reform. Palin, the governor of Alaska, has earned a reputation as a government reformer, having run for the Statehouse on a platform of cleaning up Juneau. One of her first acts was pushing ethics bills that advocated greater access to politicians’ financial disclosure reports and restricted gifts from lobbyists to public officials. Nevertheless, as with Joe Biden, we still must ask, does anyone own Sarah Palin?

As you might expect from an Alaskan politician, you don’t have to look far for a connection to Big Oil. Her husband, Todd Palin, works as a production operator for BP Alaska in Prudhoe Bay, according to Palin’s 2007 financial disclosure form (which we’ve obtained from the Alaska Public Offices Commission and scanned so everyone can see). Mr. Palin is not totally reliant on BP for his income, however. He’s also a champion “Iron Dog” snowmobile racer with sponsorships, and he owns a fishery that sells to PeterPan Seafoods.

Palin herself does not depend on the oil and gas industry for campaign cash. The biggest chunk of her war chest in the 2006 governor’s race came from party committees, retirees, and civil servants, according to the National Institute for Money in State Politics. (The oil and gas industry chipped in to her campaign, but is not one of the top 10 industries donating to her campaign.)

On house ownership, the Palins can’t match the McCains’ eight homes, but her real estate portfolio is respectable, thank you very much. Palin owns three houses, according to her 2007 financial disclosure form. The forms don’t list the value of the properties, but indicate that one is residential and the other two are used for recreation.

Bonus trivia: At the Democratic convention, factory worker Barney Smith gave a deadpan speech featuring the memorable line, “We need a president who puts Barney Smith before Smith Barney.” Well, guess what group manages Palin’s portfolio? That’s right: Smith Barney.

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