Count me once, count me twice: Creative accounting on Palin's spreadsheet

My last two posts discussed a lot of questions about the $1.9 million spreadsheet that the Office of the Governor released to some members of the press yesterday [Ref #1, 2] in order back up Sara Palin’s  claim that ethics complaints, “opposition research” public document requests, and lawsuits directed at Palin have cost the State of Alaska nearly $2 million.[Ref #3] One of the problems identified in comments on those posts was brought to my attention by a commenter calling him or herself “Me” [Ref #1, comments] and, later, “Me, again” [Ref #2, comments]: “Me” pointed out that figures on page 2 of the document — provided by the Department of Law, Office of the Attorney General — were double-entered on page 1, the spreadsheet prepared by the Office of the Governor itself — resulting in the figures being added in twice and falsely inflating the total on the spreadsheet. Specifically, $26,849 worth of costs itemized by the Department of Law were added not once but twice in the Office of the Governor’s total. Four of the line items included in that list should arguably not have been counted at all.

Well, it’s all rather difficult to explain without being able to show you.  So this evening, I took the original document and set it up to show you exactly what “Me” and I discovered.

Click through to this document, which I’ve titled “Count me once, count me twice” [Ref #4] — it’s a PDF with a summary of the problem, and a bunch of color-coded sticky notes that you can click on to get more detailed explanations.  You can also refer to the original document [Ref #5] if only to verify that the only changes I made to the document was to get both the Office of the Governor’s & the Department of Law’s spreadsheets side by side so I could show the relationships between them.

This is only one example of problems with the Office of the Governor’s spreadsheet, including other methods of padding it. For information about other problems, see the other references in the reference list below. [Refs #1, 2, 3]

That’s all.  Can you believe it?  You’ve gotta be wondering why I’m not staying up all night, eh?  No, I did that last night.  Tonight I’m gonna hang out with my friend until it comes time for her to take me to the airport, then I’m gonna climb onto that red-eye flight & sleep my way to Seattle.  (In Seattle, for my three-hour layover, I shall, of course, be sleepless. Heh.) I’ll be lots quieter over the weekend; I’ll be spending it with my family in Spokane, where we are gathering to remember a most wonderful man, my dad, who died on May 27.


Related posts

There’s several of them: follow the tag Palin ethics complaints.


  1. 7/8/09. “The nearly 2 million dollar spreadsheet” by Melissa S. Green (Henkimaa).
  2. 7/9/09. “More on Palin’s spreadsheet by Melissa S. Green (Henkimaa).
  3. 7/7/09. “The 2 million dollar meme” by Melissa S. Green (Henkimaa).
  4. 7/9/09. “Count me once, count me twice” prepared by Melissa S. Green (Henkimaa) based upon spreadsheets prepared by the Office of the Governor, State of Alaska on or about July 7, 2009 in an attempt to prove Governor Palin’s $2 million claim; see Ref #2. Illustrates how the Palin spreadsheet padded figures through use of double entry of figures from the Department of Law.
  5. Undated, circa 7/7/09. Untitled spreadsheet detailing estimated expenses to the State of Alaska for public records requests and ethics complaints in 2008-2009 (Alaska Office of the Governor; available on
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