Conservatives take on Palin for government-subsidized reality show, Palin calls criticism ‘ludicrous’

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The company that produced Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s TLC reality show, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” received $1.2 million in state tax credits for filming in Alaska through a government program Palin signed into law as governor in 2008.

The Anchorage Daily News first reported the story in February, but after an analyst at the Tax Foundation posted a blurb on the group’s blog linking to the piece Tuesday, Palin faced a fresh heap of criticism from Washington conservative pundits who may have been a bit late to the fight, but were not shy to throw punches.

The state legislature passed the subsidy program in 2008 to encourage media companies to film their projects in Alaska and offers up to 30 percent of the money they spend in the state.

But in a political age where it’s controversial in many circles to defend public funding of National Public Radio, critics panned Palin for supporting a measure that forced taxpayers to foot the bill for a private media project after many statements from the former governor in support of a government that only plays a limited role in the economy.

“I’d bet, like many politicians, Palin’s views on the proper role of government becomes more flexible as it comes closer to her own interests,” wrote the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney on Tuesday.

Jim Geraghty of National Review said that the reality show’s subsidy was “ridiculous” and that the policy was “problematic for a crusader for small government to end up collecting a seven-figure paycheck from an endeavor that received a seven-figure subsidy,” while Peter Suderman of the libertarian Reason Magazine cracked: “In 2008, Sarah Palin, then the Governor of Alaska, signed a special tax credit for filmmakers into law. … Who’s benefiting from that tax subsidy now? … none other than Sarah Palin.”

Palin, however, stood by her decision to sign the bill into law in 2008, and the media company’s choice to take the tax credit.

In a statement to the Daily Caller, Palin called the criticism “ludicrous.”

“Any suggestion that I somehow did something wrong by signing this legislation is ludicrous. The accusation hinges on the notion that I signed the legislation into law knowing that it would personally benefit me. That’s absurd,” Palin said. “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.”

“If you’re going to accuse me of benefiting from legislation I signed into law, why stop there?” she added. “One could accuse me of ‘benefiting’ from my administration’s oil and gas evaluation legislation (ACES) in the sense that due to that legislation the state where I live (Alaska) now enjoys a $12 billion surplus. In fact, you could say that as an Alaskan, I benefited from all of the legislation I signed as governor – just as every Alaskan benefited.”

On the accusations that Palin’s participation in the television project conflicted with her free-market beliefs, Palin insisted that she has remained consistent.

“It’s also a false accusation to suggest that signing this bipartisan bill somehow goes against my position on the proper role of government,” she said. “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.”


In order to obtain answers to the aforementioned questions, Palin’s aide  required the Daily Caller to post the former governor’s statements in their entirety.

On the Alaska tax credit for media production companies:

“I can’t speak for the film tax credit programs in other states, but the program in Alaska has been effective. The bipartisan legislation I signed into law in 2008 was borne out of elected lawmakers’ frustration with the fact that shows and films about Alaska were mostly filmed elsewhere. They wanted to incentivize production companies to film in Alaska instead of Canada, Washington state, or Maine. It worked, and as the legislation’s supporters will testify, the state’s economy enjoys the benefits of having this production money circulating right here at home. It was so successful that state lawmakers now want to renew the film production tax credits for another ten years. Keep in mind that we don’t have a state income tax, state sales tax, or state property tax in Alaska. Our state government is predominately funded by oil and gas revenue. Essentially we are using revenue generated from the development of Alaska’s natural resources in order to diversify our economy and create jobs beyond just resource development. Not only does this help promote a new film industry in Alaska, it obviously also has the added benefit of encouraging our tourism industry. These shows and films about Alaska act as perfect tourist advertisements for our state.  People come here to experience what they see on the shows filmed here. The dramatic increase in Alaska-based television shows and films are testament to the fact that this legislation worked, and it’s exciting to see our state showcased and appreciated. For the record, ‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska’ was never intended to have a ‘second season.’ It was always intended to be an 8-part documentary series with a definitive end date. It was a success for all involved. It highlighted the great beauty and promise of Alaska and our amazing natural resources. I’m proud of it, and I was honored to share Alaska with the rest of the world.”

On criticism for Palin benefiting from a policy she signed into law:

“Why not ask the sponsors, drafters, and supporters of this legislation that would boost job creation if they crafted this bill years ago in order to benefit Sarah Palin? Any suggestion that I somehow did something wrong by signing this legislation is ludicrous. The accusation hinges on the notion that I signed the legislation into law knowing that it would personally benefit me. That’s absurd. 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. If you’re going to accuse me of benefiting from legislation I signed into law, why stop there? One could accuse me of ‘benefiting’ from my administration’s oil and gas evaluation legislation (ACES) in the sense that due to that legislation the state where I live (Alaska) now enjoys a $12 billion surplus. In fact, you could say that as an Alaskan, I benefited from all of the legislation I signed as governor – just as every Alaskan benefited.”

On accusations that Palin is being inconsistent in her views on the role of government and the economy:

“It’s also a false accusation to suggest that signing this bipartisan bill somehow goes against my position on the proper role of government. 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. Again, I can’t speak for what other states do, but Alaska’s film production tax credit program is an effective way to incentivize a new industry that would diversify our economy. It worked. The lawmakers’ successful legislation fit Alaska’s economy, as our economy is quite unique from other states’ due to our oil and gas revenue. Perhaps it would behoove people to learn much more about the 49th state’s young economy before making broad accusations about the efficacy of business programs.”

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