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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Plane Lying

By Keith R. Schmitz

Mayday, mayday, incoming BS!

Among the not one true thing said by Sarah Palin, is the howler about selling the state of Alaska's "luxury jet."

From the Daily Howler:
The jet was purchased by unpopular Republican governor Frank Murkowski; it had become a major issue in Alaska politics years before Palin’s ran for governor in 2006. (The jet was already an active issue in the 2004 state campaign.) During her gubernatorial campaign, Palin did pledge to sell the plane—but so did the other major candidates, in both major parties. (Murkowski finished a distant third in the 2006 GOP primary, behind Palin and John Binkley. Binkley had also pledged to sell the plane. In the general election, Palin’s Democratic opponent, Tony Knowles, had pledged he would sell the plane too.) Meanwhile, trying to sell the plane on eBay wasn’t a hockey mom’s savvy idea; it was standard practice in Alaska. According to Nexis, the first mention of eBay in this context came after the campaign was over, when Palin formally put the jet up for sale. This was part of Kyle Hopkins’ report in the Anchorage Daily News:

HOPKINS (12/13/06): The state's chief procurement officer, Vern Jones, said it's not unusual for Alaska to sell big-ticket items on eBay because the site is cheap and has a big audience.

It cost the state a few hundred dollars to sell an old state ferry, The Bartlett, for $389,500 in 2003, he said. "They got more for that then they expected."

Tuesday night, the state was auctioning 38 items on the site, including three aircraft—two Super Cubs and a Cessna. Two of the planes have already reached the minimum bids set by the state, meaning Jones expects them to sell for sure.

Selling assets on eBay was standard practice for the state; it wasn’t the hockey mom’s kitchen-table-in-a-small-town idea. And uh-oh! In this case, the eBay gambit turned out to be a bad idea for the state. No suitable bid came in for the jet, and Palin changed course in April 2007, putting the plane up for sale through a conventional airplane broker. The plane was finally unloaded in August 2007—at a substantial loss. (Murkowski had purchased the plane for $2.6 million. McCain’s latest howler to the side, it sold for $2.1 million.)

Meanwhile, the state had continued to pay a $62,500 quarterly note on the plane during the months when Palin’s eBay gambit failed. Using eBay had sometimes worked in the past, but it failed when the hockey mom tried it for this major asset; the “pitbull in lipstick” forgets to say that when she pimps her brilliant maneuver. And McCain misstated the basic facts when he pimped Palin’s brilliance last week. No, she didn’t sell it on eBay. And no, it wasn’t sold at a profit.

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