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Sarah Palin Cover Up? Alaska Removes Film Incentive Page
By: Sarah JonesMar. 31st, 2011more from Sarah Jones
Sarah Palin took to Facebook yesterday to “correct” the Daily Caller over their reporting about her use of the Alaskan film tax incentive for Sarah Palin’s Alaska. Palin never got around to addressing how a self-described fiscal conservative uses taxpayer money for subsidies she then feeds into her own bank account for a TV show that boiled down to one long political ad for Sarah Palin. Interestingly, when I went to the Alaska Film Office website, the film incentive pages are gone. Luckily, I have the PDFs. The film tax incentive specifically prohibits political advertising from receiving the tax credits.
Palin claims in her defense that only the production company benefited from the tax incentives, but that’s not accurate. Sarah Palin benefited to the personal tune of over $100,000 plus perks and whatever back end points she negotiated. And in case you think this doesn’t impact you, Alaska has no state income tax. Just where do you think they get that money? Check your wallet, because it’s possible that you paid for Sarah Palin’s Alaska, which was pure and simple taxpayer funded political propaganda that also enriched the politician. And yes, that is a first.
The production company for her reality TV show received $1.2 million in state tax credits. Sarah Palin got a seven-figure paycheck from that seven-figure subsidy from the taxpayers. Palin’s film incentive reimburses the talent’s salary at 10%, which means that we all paid around $100,000 of Sarah’s rather high (for reality TV) salary, in addition to various other pieces of equipment, vehicles, plane rides, etc. It was a lot of money. In addition to her reality TV show, she also built a studio in her fourth home, next to the “White House” on the dead lake in Wasilla (a nod to Palin’s anti-environmental stance that makes the fundies so happy- each dead fish is another day we get closer to Jesus). I’m sure we are all paying something for that gateway to Fox News. And you wonder why she won’t go away.
There are all kinds of tax deals for companies that have anything to do with film/TV in the incentives as well. Do we really think Palin isn’t taking advantages of those? This is Sarah Palin, who grifted her way through the RNC’s money buying silk underwear for Todd and hundreds of thousands of dollars on clothes for herself and refused to give any of it back. We never did hear what happened to it after the RNC sent someone to collect it. This is the same Sarah Palin who “forgot” to pay taxes on a second home. Forgot to the tell the IRS it even existed. This is the same Sarah who charged Alaskans per diem because she didn’t want to go to work and then didn’t pay taxes on that per diem.
It is a violation of the ethics code in Alaska to use one’s office for financial or personal gain, not that anyone would know that from Palin’s brief tenure. Of course, this wouldn’t hold up in court, since she quit as governor, but it sure as heck doesn’t look good and it sure as heck isn’t the act of a fiscal conservative who thinks everyone else should do for themselves with no help from the government.
The Alaskan film incentive allows 30 percent transferable tax credit to film productions who spend more than $100,000 in Alaska. The credit go up to 44 percent if incentives for local hire, remote locations and winter filming are also used. Alaska has no personal income tax and LLCs do not pay tax (in case you were wondering why Alaska is one of the biggest welfare states of federal money). The law was signed in 2008 and amended on June 18 of 2009. Gosh, golly that’s like what…weeks before she quit to pursue fame and fortune. By March, 2010, they were shopping Sarah Palin’s Alaska for distribution.
Palin’s long-winded refudiation (oh yeah) involved strawmen such as:
…. after he spent the first page completely spinning a situation to give the impression that Alaska’s film production tax credit legislation was somehow solely my idea hatched up to benefit the Palins years before I was ever involved in a documentary series on TLC/Discovery Channel. Here’s setting the record straight: As Governor, I signed into law a popular bipartisan bill that was crafted and passed by others and has resulted in numerous Alaska-based productions that are airing today. The only alternative to signing the legislature’s work product would have been for me to veto their legislation, which would have been useless. Besides all that, their legislation worked.
OK, SPA wasn’t a documentary by any stretch of the imagination on any planet. I won’t even get into the reasons why, as by definition alone, my argument is made. It’s true, Palin did not have distribution for the series yet when she signed the legislation, but we have no way of knowing just when she started talking with production companies about doing a show. It could have easily been before she quit as governor. And by the way, Palin didn’t get paid IF the series got distribution, she got paid for making it, therefore TLC/Discovery (distribution) is irrelevant to the issue.
This isn’t hypocritical because “I’ve said many times that government can play an appropriate role in incentivizing business, creating infrastructure, and leveling the playing field to foster competition so the market picks winners and losers, instead of bureaucrats burdening businesses and picking winners and losers.”
It was, in fact, called a subsidy bill by Republicans at the time, “This is a film industry subsidy bill,” said Sen. Con Bunde, R-Anchorage. The fact that Palin labels subsidies the free market should be making real conservatives cringe, but they know they can’t afford that kind of hypocrisy, in light of the oil company subsidies and corporate tax breaks they give out every year in the name of “job creation.” Palin forced the taxpayers to foot the bill for a private media project that was a political ad. That’s not free market or limited government.
The problem with Sarah Palin is that she has no idea what is behind policies that she advocated. On this hand we have her saying giving money away in a subsidies program is a free market and then on the other she says using windfall profit taxes on oil companies isn’t socialism. Neither, of course, has anything to do with the accusation that she took advantage of a piece of legislation she championed, and is profiting from it. So these issues are nothing but strawmen.
“The accusation hinges on the notion that I signed the legislation into law knowing that it would personally benefit me. That’s totally absurd. It wasn’t even my bill, and obviously I had no intention of benefiting from it when I signed it into law in 2008 because I had no idea I would be involved in a documentary series years later.”
Palin most definitely did benefit from this legislation. In running away from the obvious, Palin ruins her entire argument, because it’s arguable that she didn’t know she was going to benefit from it when she passed it originally (though I suspect by the time they updated it in June of 2009, she did). The truth is that she negotiated her deal with Burnett knowing he would pay more for her salary than normal because she could get the state to pick up the 10%. Plus, a lot of the benefits and demands made by “name” actors she got picked up by the state due to the specifics of the film incentives, which were exceptionally generous compared to other states, by the way. It’s entirely possible that without these incentives, Palin never would have been able to get a deal to make her show. After all, the state/taxpayers funded 44% of it. But here’s the real stickler; the following types of productions are NOT eligible:
(c) The following productions are not eligible, regardless of the production costs:
(1) news, weather, or current events programming;(2) a production produced primarily for industrial, corporate, or institutional purposes, and for internal use;
(3) an advertisement, infomercial, or any other production that solicits funds, except for a commercial television advertisement produced for national distribution;
(4) a political advertisement;
Palin’s show, which was obviously political in nature, should have been exempt. It is absolutely wrong that taxpayers were forced to pay for a political ad for Sarah Palin. This is, of course, outrageous, which is why it is exempted. In addition to the blatantly political myth building purpose of her show, I made a bet last fall that we would see snippets of this show used in her Presidential ads. Even if Palin used any of these clips to raise funds from SarahPac, that would and will disqualify the production from tax incentives even more clearly. What do you think, will they pay us back if and when I am proven right?
Sadly, I don’t get solicitations from SarahPac, but I’m sure some of my readers do. Weigh in, won’t you? Ever seen a video with clips from her show, even if it’s just a split second, in a SarahPac email? How about a photo from the shoot?
In addition to taxpayers funding 30% of Sarah’s show, there are some extra goodies thrown in:
(1) an additional 10 percent of qualified expenditures that are wages paid to Alaska residents;
(2) an additional two percent of qualified expenditures made in a rural area; and
(3) an additional two percent of qualified expenditures made in the state between October 1 and March 30.
Note that “rural area” means a community with a population of 1,500 or less or a community with a population of 5,500 or less that is not connected by road or rail to Anchorage or Fairbanks. Hello, Sarah Palin’s Alaska!
So, covered here we have on top of the 30% for general costs associated with shooting, 10% of the over a million dollars that Palin was paid as talent (who knows how much she got paid as “producer”) and the 2% for rural areas. She wanted a million per episode for season 2. Can we afford that? I thought we were “broke.”
Now for the goodies, expenditures (or “entitlements” or “welfare” – read this how you will) may include:
(1) costs of set construction and operation;
(2) costs of wardrobes, make-up, accessories, and related services;
(3) costs associated with photography and sound synchronization;
(4) costs of lighting and related services and materials;
(5) costs of editing and related services;
(6) rental of facilities and equipment;
(7) leasing of vehicles;
(8) costs of food and lodging;
(9) costs of digital or tape editing, film processing, transfer of film to tape or digital format, sound mixing, and special and visual effects;
(10) the total aggregate payroll for services performed in Alaska, including all salaries, wages, compensation, and related benefits provided to producers,directors, writers, actors, and other personnel that are directly attributable to services performed in Alaska;
(11) the costs of the use of an Alaska business for processing qualified payroll and related expenditures;
(12) costs of music, if performed, composed, or recorded by an Alaska musician, or released or published by an Alaska business;
(13) costs of intrastate travel, if provided by an Alaska business;
(14) costs relating to the design, construction, improvement, or repair of a film, video, television, or digital production or postproduction facility or related property, infrastructure, or equipment, except commercial exhibition facilities, as determined by the film office;
(15) costs of state or municipal taxes levied in Alaska on the lease or rental of passenger or recreational vehicles or the rental of rooms or other lodging;
Does anyone recall the huge RV the Palins drove around in on SPA? You paid for that, too. Probably bought it, if I know Sarah. And how about those expensive plane rides and the ATVs? They only showed the Palins in the planes, but they had to fly the crew there, too – and of course, the entourage had to come. You paid for that, too. Yeah, nothing like a little sucking off the government teat to the tune of 1.2 million dollars.
So there’s no way that the tax incentive didn’t benefit her. She uses the strawman that she didn’t draft this to benefit herself personally to avoid the fact that she took advantage of the taxpayers to fill her own bank account, and that she used government as a funnel to get taxpayer money for herself. While most conservatives do that these days, it is not a part of conservative ideology to suck money out of the government for yourself and hence, she’s getting flack for this. Also, the conservatives just don’t want her around now that she did their dirty work for them in 2010. She’s not national material and they know it. She should prepare herself for a lot more flack from her side of the aisle.
If she were a true fiscal conservative, she would have turned down the money all together or donated it to an Alaskan charity – but she would not have taken taxpayer money for personal benefit. Sorry, but there’s no way around that. But that’s not the most glaring problem facing Palin regarding the film incentive. The largest issue is that by the very exemptions listed in the bill, her show should have been ineligible. Sarah Palin used taxpayer money to enrich herself and to create and distribute very expensive political propaganda — and that’s the part the conservatives missed in their criticism of her use/abuse of her own legislation.
One wonders how they will feel if someone like say, Hilary Clinton, does the same thing before her Presidential run in 2016. Hey, they set the precedent. Let the taxpayers fund a series on Discovery about Hilary that pays her $100,000 and some swag. Or maybe they would like to fund Clinton’s private TV studio so she can be a pundit for MSNBC. No?
I don’t know about you, but I never agreed to pay for political ads for Sarah Palin — during which she bashed Michelle Obama and liberals pretty consistently — and I have a lot more worthy causes to donate my money to than a seditious Republican puppet.
I want my money back. The Alaska government knows they are on thin ice here. Is that why they took the tax incentive pages off the web?