Two readers make two good points on the Post story:
The point of the story is not that Palin was entitled to the per diem she claimed; the point is that the central claim of the WP story looks to be demonstrably false.
The graphic accompanying the story shows Palin’s claim for 3/29/07. It shows a claim of $60, the amount to pay Palin’s meals and incidental expenses (M & IE) during the work day. To the left of that column, there is no dollar amount for lodging.
Remember that the lede is “Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has billed taxpayers for 312 nights spent in her own home during her
first 19 months in office, charging a “per diem” allowance intended tocover meals and incidental expenses while traveling on state business.”
She claimed nothing for the night spent in her home on this date. If this is one of the 312 nights counted by the WP, the story is off by one. If this is the pattern for the other nights counted by the WP, then the story’s central point is false. (The WP does not make the documents available for review by readers.)
Whether that falsity is due to incompetence or malice is for others to judge. In any event, the editors WP should at least think about a draft retraction.
I discovered this nifty thing called arithmetic. Palin’s so-called “scandalous” $16,951 per diem claim, spent on meals at home and incidental expenses over a duration of 312 days, works out to an average of $7.76 per family member per day including her eldest son, or $9.06 per family member without him. This translates to an average weekly bill of $380.31, including but not limited to groceries. Best as I can tell, average weekly grocery bills for households of four range from $150 to $300.