Is There a HouseGate in Sarah Palin's Future?
Update 7/4/09: The FBI says there is no investigation of any kind involving Sarah Palin.
Original Post 7/3/09
Speculation is mounting on the internet that Sarah Palin is facing trouble over the source of the building materials for her Waslilla, Alaska home. If you remember, Todd was interviewed saying he built the house with his own hands and some buddies helped out with materials. [More...]
The details were reported in 2008 by Village Voice reporter Wayne Barrett. Mudflats also reported on it. Hypocrites and Heffalump Traps wrote it up in February, with pictures of each, showing similarities and posts an update today.
Here's the railing at the Wasilla Sports Complex:
And here's the railing at the Palin home:
The complex cost $12.5 million to build. Barrett reported:
Six months before Palin stepped down as mayor in October 2002, the city awarded nearly a half-million-dollar contract to design the biggest project in Wasilla history to Kumin Associates. Blase Burkhart was the Kumin architect on the job—the son of Roy Burkhart, who is frequently described as a "mentor" of Palin and was head of the local Republican Party (his wife, June, who also advised Palin, is the national committeewoman).
Asked if the contract was a favor, Roy Burkhart, who contributed to her campaign in the same time frame that his son got the contract, said: "I really don't know." Palin then named Blase Burkhart to a seven-member builder-selection committee that picked Howdie Inc., a mostly residential contractor owned at the time by Howard Nugent. Formally awarded the contract a couple of weeks after Palin left office, Nugent has donated $4,000 to Palin campaigns. Two competitors protested the process that led to Nugent's contract.
The Village Voice obtained a list of sub-contractors at the Complex. One was Spenard Builders.
In addition to being a sponsor of Todd Palin's snow-machine team that has earned tens of thousands for the Palin family, Spenard hired Sarah Palin to do a statewide television commercial in 2004. When the Palins began building a new family home off Lake Lucille in 2002—at the same time that Palin was running for lieutenant governor and in her final months as mayor—Spenard supplied the materials, according to Antoine Bricks, who works in its Wasilla office.
Spenard actually filed a notice "of its right to assert a lien" on the deed for the Palin property after contracting for labor and materials for the site. Spenard's name has popped up in the trial of Senator Stevens—it worked on the house that is at the center of the VECO scandal as well.
Other subcontractors also donated to Palin:
Dorwin and Joanne Smith, the principals of complex subcontractor DJ Excavation & Development, have donated $7,100 to Palin and her allied candidate Charlie Fannon (Joanne is a Palin appointee on the state Board of Nursing). Sheldon Ewing, who owns another complex subcontractor, Weld Air, has donated $1,300, and PN&D, an engineering firm on the complex, has contributed $699.
Max Blumenthal writes at the Daily Beast:
Many political observers in Alaska are fixated on rumors that federal investigators have been seizing paperwork from SBS in recent months, searching for evidence that Palin and her husband Todd steered lucrative contracts to the well-connected company in exchange for gifts like the construction of their home on pristine Lake Lucille in 2002. The home was built just two months before Palin began campaigning for governor, a job which would have provided her enhanced power to grant building contracts in the wide-open state.
...Just months before Palin left city hall to campaign for governor, she awarded a contract to SBS [Spenard] to help build the $13 million Wasilla Sports Complex. The most expensive building project in Wasilla history, the complex cost the city an additional $1.3 million in legal fees and threw it into severe long-term debt. For SBS, however, the bloated and bungled project was a cash cow.
Wouldn't the statute of limitations be up on home renovations performed and contracts awarded in the 90's? Even if she didn't declare the value of the contributions on her tax return, the statute of limitations has probably run. If Palin has upcoming legal problems, I think it's more likely they are related to the e-mails that supposedly are coming out than the Wasilla Sports Complex.
As to theories she's resigning to hit the lecture circuit or become a cable news pundit to pay her legal bills, didn't she just get a fat book contract that should take care of those?
Whatever her reasons for resigning, I suspect her political career is over. She can run around the country from now until 2012, and she's not going to be nominated for President. Memo to Mrs. Palin: We're just not that into you.
Update: AK Muckraker has a good analysis over at Huffington Post today.
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