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Palin defends billing state for nights at home

Responding to criticism from Democrats, campaign aides to Gov. Sarah Palin on Tuesday defended her practice of billing Alaska taxpayers for more than 300 nights she spent at home during her first year and a half in office.

Palin received a “per diem” expense allowance for 312 nights she spent at her home in Wasilla, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The $60-a-day allowance is available for Alaska state employees when traveling on official state business to cover meals and other sundry expenses. Palin's per diems totaled $17,059, from Dec. 4, 2006, when she took office, through June 30, 2008, the most recent data available, according to Sharon Leighow, a gubernatorial spokeswoman in Alaska.

Palin was able to receive the allotment while she was at home because her official “duty station” is listed as Juneau, the state capital, aides said. That allowed Palin to file for per diems while she was working out of her Anchorage office and commuting there from her home 45 miles away in Wasilla. The practice of billing for working from home seems to be unusual. Officials said it would not be allowed in their states, including California, South Carolina and Pennsylvania, as well as other jurisdictions. On the federal level, officials said members of Congress do not get per diem allowances for routine home visits.

New York Times

Poll: McCain has 20-point lead in N.C.

Republican John McCain jumped to a 20-point lead over Democrat Barack Obama in North Carolina, according to poll released Tuesday by a Triangle-area TV station.

The SurveyUSA poll for WTVD showed McCain leading 58 percent to 38 percent. It showed him leading men by 27 points and independents by 25 points.

McCain led in three previous SurveyUSA polls, but never by more than 8 points.

Staff reports

Trooper says he hasn't been contacted on Palin

The Alaska state trooper at the heart of a legislative probe into whether Gov. Sarah Palin abused her power says he has not been contacted by the man overseeing the inquiry.

The legislature is investigating whether Palin fired former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan because he would not dismiss trooper Mike Wooten, who went through a messy divorce from Palin's sister.

But nearly six weeks into the investigation, Wooten said Tuesday that neither the legislature's investigator nor Palin's attorney have contacted him.

If contacted, Wooten says, he will cooperate. But he says he has no plans to contact the legislature's investigator.

Associated Press

Ron Paul urges voters to eschew McCain, Obama

Libertarian-leaning congressman Ron Paul is urging voters to reject John McCain and Barack Obama and support one of the third-party candidates for president. Paul, a Republican who abandoned his White House bid this year, is gathering some of the candidates, independent Ralph Nader among them, today to make his plea.

“The strongest message can be sent by rejecting the two party system,” Paul said in prepared remarks. “This can be accomplished by voting for one of the nonestablishment, principled candidates.”

Associated Press
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