Saturday, September 06, 2008

Palin and the "eBay" Jet: Ethics 101

"I put it on eBay!" That was one of my favorite lines of Gov. Palin's VP nomination acceptance speech last Wednesday. Palin was talking about an Alaska state-owned jet she said she sold. I thought it was great! It sounded innovative. It sounded clever. It sounded true.

But it was only half-true. The jet didn't sell on eBay. A broker sold it for $2.1 million to an Alaskan entrepreneur. Some say it sold at a loss.

And the jet wasn't just an "over the top" extravagance either, as Gov. Palin claimed. It was used to transport prisoners from Alaska to Arizona almost 60% of the time. She made it sound like it was just an old toy that she sold. She used the jet to make herself look good - like a reformer.

I also wondered at the time whether Gov. Palin was trying to pump up eBay in the process. After all, eBay's president had just given a speech to the RNC shortly before Palin did. A little cronyism, perhaps? Lots of eBay users can attest to their high hopes when they pay the eBay listing fees only to find that they can't sell their widget (or jet) there no matter how many times they list it. It is reported that Palin listed the Alaska jet 4 times. But she didn't mention that part.

So she didn't actually say she sold it on eBay, but even Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain seems to have gotten that impression. He proclaimed at the Republican National Convention that Gov. Palin had sold the jet on eBay - at a profit! Not only is this not even a half-truth, it is patently false. Was he misled by Palin? If he was misled, that's not good. If he wasn't, not good either.

Why should anyone care about this? Don't we have "bigger issues" to discuss? Maybe. But Gov. Palin stands on a platform of ethics. As she said in her speech the other night, "Now, no one expects us to agree on everything. Whether in Juno or in Washington. But we are expected to govern with integrity and good will and clear convictions and a servant's heart."

Ethics 101 teaches that integrity means honesty. And a lie by omission is still a lie.

P.S. Gov. Palin's eBay remark isn't included on the McCain/Palin website in the written speech. Did she ad lib or did they remove it?

See Gov. Palin's speech at:

Source: The Chicago Tribune, Jason George and Andrew Zajac, Palin claim on eBay plane sale doesn't fly,,0,3470364.story

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