McClintock, Palin and per diem

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To voters in Ventura County, reports that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin accepted $17,000 in taxpayer money intended as a daily travel allowance even as she lived at home while governor might have a familiar ring.

The reason? They are not dissimilar to complaints that Sen. Tom McClintock, who is registered to vote in Thousand Oaks, has accepted about $30,000 per year in tax-free per diem pay for out-of-town legislators even though he makes his permanent home near Sacramento, just 14 miles from the Capitol.

In each case, it appears to be a potentially ripe political issue: a conservative elected official who professes to be tight-fisted about government spending personally stretching the rules to collect extra compensation.

Palin should look to the McClintock example, however, and take comfort. Even though opponents repeatedly tried to make a campaign issue out of his ethically questionable acceptance of per-diem pay, the charges never seemed to bother voters much. Former Congressman Doug Ose incessantly pounded McClintock over the issue in TV ads this spring, yet McClintock handily won the Republican nomination for a Northern California seat in Congress.

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95 percent accurate
Over the last 25 presidential elections, Ventura County voters have backed the winner 24 times, or over 95 percent of the time. It is one of only a handful of counties in the nation that has been such a predictable bellwether.
about Timm Herdt
Timm Herdt
The Ventura County Star's Sacramento Bureau Chief Timm Herdt on state issues and politics from Sacramento to Ventura County. He can be contacted at therdt@vcstar.com
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