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The Washington Independent

As Mayor, Palin Took A Pay Cut…And Then a Raise

TPM reports that city records from Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s tenure as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, indicate that there is more to the story of her pay cut. On the

Elisa Mueller
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Sep 20, 2008

TPM reports that city records from Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s tenure as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, indicate that there is more to the story of her pay cut. On the campaign trail, Palin regularly boasts that she reduced her pay, a move she says was not popular with her husband Todd.

According to a document released by the city, this is true — Palin’s salary was reduced from $64,200 to $61,200 shortly after she took office in late-1996. However, in June 1998, her pay increased to $68,000, She received another pay cut in July 1997, before having it restored to $68,000 three months later, where it remained until she left the position in 2002. From TPM:

The records don’t explain the mechanisms by which the pay shifts happened. As best as we can determine, the cuts were engineered by Palin herself through some sort of executive mechanism, and the raises were City Council-mandated hikes.

What’s the upshot? Well, Palin’s claim that she “took a pay cut” as mayor is true in a narrow sense. She came in and took a pay cut that she engineered herself.

But in a broader sense, the claim is an oversimplification that borders on misleading. The bottom line is that whatever her intentions, over the course of her mayoralty Palin’s pay went up thousands of dollars and stayed higher for years, money which she presumably kept. (If any proof emerges that she donated it to charity or channeled it back into city coffers in some other way, we’ll happily update.)

This isn’t another Bridge to Nowhere. But it does fit a pattern here, where Palin burnishes her reform credentials by describing intentions as realities or otherwise boiling down the record into easily-digestible sound-bites that at best are half-truths, as this latest one has now proven to be.

It also illustrates that all information originating with the McCain campaign is suspect until independently confirmed — fact-checking is a good game to get into if you want serious job security for the next couple of months. After eight years of near-constant spin from the Bush administration, is this what the American people are looking for from their government?

Elisa Mueller | Elisa Mueller was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to a mother who taught reading and a father who taught film. As a result, she spent an excessive amount of her childhood reading books and watching movies. She went to the University of Kansas for college, where she earned bachelor's degrees in English and journalism. She moved to New York City and worked for Entertainment Weekly magazine for ten years, visiting film sets all over the world.


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