Palin did not sell governor's plane on eBay, as claimed
David J. Sheakley/Associated Press
[At approximately 00:18 GMT, 6 September 2008, this posting was revised, begining at this point.]
Alaska's luxury gubernatorial jet, delegates and convention television viewers alike were told was sold on eBay at a profit. A video said so. GOP Presidential Candidate John McCain said so.
In fact, it was sold through a broker at a loss.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (CNN) — Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin bolstered her fiscal-conservative credentials early in her term by putting her predecessor's state jet up for auction online.
"That luxury jet was over the top," she told Republican National Convention delegates when she accepted the party's vice presidential nomination Wednesday night. "I put it on eBay."
"How many saw her speech a couple of nights ago? Wasn't it fabulous?" McCain said Friday during a campaign stop in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. "You know what I enjoyed the most? She took the luxury jet that was purchased by her predecessor and sold it on eBay — and made a profit."
But it turns out the twin-engine Westwind II was a tough sell on the Web — and the state eventually pulled it offline and sold it through an ordinary brick-and-mortar brokerage, for a loss, a spokeswoman said Friday.
"Governor Palin has been correct in saying that she put the plane on eBay," McCain campaign spokeswoman Maria Comella told CNN. "They did end up selling it for $2.1 million. but not on eBay."
When putting it on eBay failed, aircraft broker Rob Heckmann was called in to sell the jet. Businessman Larry Reynolds bought the five-passenger jet for sold for $2.1 million. And Reynolds is now seeking another $50,000 from the state for unexpected maintenance issues with the aircraft.
[end of revision]
But in fact, the jet did not sell on eBay. It was sold to a businessman from Valdez named Larry Reynolds, who paid $2.1 million for the jet, shy of the original $2.7 million purchase price, according to contemporaneous news reports, including a story in the New York Times.
Dan Spencer, the director of administrative services for Alaska's Public Safety Department, said that the Republican speaker of the Alaska House, John L. Harris, brokered the deal.
What happened? It appears that, as promised during her bid for governor in 2006, Palin did try to sell the plane on eBay but that doing so was not as easy as it might have sounded. After putting it up to auction, there was one serious bid, in December 2006, and it fell through. Still, the Westwind II was sold about eight months later, achieving Palin's goal of ridding the state of a luxury item.
But that hasn't stopped Palin, or McCain, from implying -- and, on Friday, claiming outright -- that Palin did sell the jet on the Internet.
"You know what I enjoyed the most? She took the luxury jet that was acquired by her predecessor and sold it on eBay -- and made a profit!" McCain declared in Wisconsin at a campaign stop on Friday. It could not be immediately determined what that profit was.
The video tribute to Palin that aired at the Republican National Convention on Thursday night made the same claim. "She signed sweeping ethics reform legislation, auctioned the governor's jet on eBay," the narrator said, citing it in a list of Palin's achievements.
Palin has been more cautious in her comments. Rather than claiming she sold it on eBay, she gave in her convention remarks a description that was true but, nonetheless, still left the impression she had sold the jet online. "That luxury jet was over the top. I put it on eBay," Palin said.
Jet That Helped Defeat an Alaska Governor Is Sold
The Westwind II, which symbolized former Gov. Frank H. Murkowski’s troubles, has found a buyer in Valdez, Alaska.
By WILLIAM YARDLEY Published: August 25, 2007
A businessman from Valdez, Alaska, Larry Reynolds, paid $2.1 million this week for the state-owned Westwind II jet that Mr. Murkowski’s successor, Gov. Sarah S. Palin, promised to purge from the state inventory when she ran against Mr. Murkowski last fall in the Republican primary
In December, barely a week after being inaugurated, Ms. Palin said the plane would be sold on eBay. One serious offer was posted, for a similar price, but the deal fell apart when the state hesitated on the terms and the prospective buyer found another jet, said Dan Spencer, director of administrative services for the Public Safety Department.
Mr. Reynolds learned of the plane through Speaker John L. Harris, Republican of Valdez, Mr. Spencer said.
“He picked it up this morning,” Mr. Spencer said yesterday. “He had a couple of pilots.”