Congressman’s concerns well received

Published 11:40 pm Friday, June 10, 2011

I have never heard of Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and I’m willing to bet you haven’t either.

According to information from his website, Rep. Blumenauer has been active in politics all his adult life. He’s served as a state representative, Portland City Council member and now in the United States House of Representatives.

I’m sure the people of Portland and other areas of the great state of Oregon are familiar with him and his work, but I had never laid eyes on him as far as I know until Thursday afternoon when I was looking around on and stumbled on an article about the congressman.

The article I read impressed me to at least some extent. It seems Congressman Blumenauer is currently asking questions about the tour former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is taking to the national monuments in this country. The Congressman’s concern is whether or not taxpayer money is being spent on Palin that is not available to every other citizen in the country.

According to ABC, there was at least one instance when Palin was surrounded by park rangers and police officers during her tour. Rep. Blumenauer took issue with any former politician receiving VIP treatment at taxpayer expense.

“I opened my paper this morning to hear about cutbacks in state parks around this country,” Blumenauer told ABC News. “We have a serious backlog of maintenance in the National Park Service. And it looks like Sarah Palin’s little political cavalcade gets this amazing VIP treatment – I’m scratching my head.

“If it’s a private family vacation, what in the world are we doing getting people in with preferential early admission and having an entourage of public employees,” he asked. “It looks like a political stunt, and Palin Inc. ought to pay for it.”

While Rep. Blumenauer admits he is no fan of the former Governor, he insisted his concern was about the amount of money and resources being spent for a former public official that would not be made available to taxpaying citizens of the country.

A Park Service spokesperson said it was business as usual except for Palin’s visit to the Statue of Liberty, but said he did not know if that had cost taxpayer money.

Whether or not you believe Rep. Blumenauer as to whether or not his concern is personal, I think it’s a good thing he is asking the question. How many times do the Sarah Palin’s of our country spend more taxpayer money to subsidize their own family trips?

I understand we have federal leaders that sometimes get that special treatment and I’m not crazy about that idea, even though I accept it is sometimes necessary.

I absolutely will not accept that it is okay for the Park Service or anyone else to spend taxpayer dollars on Sarah Palin or any other private citizen, no matter what ‘stature’ they have achieved unless they would do it for every taxpayer.

It is time for taxpayers to start asking questions like the one Rep. Blumenauer is asking. This time we have one of our elected leaders asking, but we can’t count on our representatives to do it for us. More often than not, they won’t.

Thadd White is a Staff Writer and Sports Editor for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be reached via email at or by telephone at 332-7211.