Congressman Asks If National Park Service Went Too Far to Accommodate Citizen Palin

Did the National Park Service bend over too far to accommodate Sarah Palin and her family during their East Coast tour, which had more than a few political overtones? That's what at least one congressman wants to know, and he's asked Park Service Director Jon Jarvis for an explanation.

In his letter Tuesday to the Park Service director, Rep. Earl Blumenauer asked how much the agency spent to accommodate the former Alaskan governor and Republican vice presidential nominee during her "'One Nation' partisan political tour,'" which included stops at the National Archives, Gettsyburg National Military Park, and the Statue of Liberty National Monument.

"Many of the press accounts of stops included in this tour, which provided personal and political benefits to former Gov. Palin, suggest that National Park Service resources were made available to an extent beyond that which an average American family would receive,” the Oregon Democrat wrote (see attached).

According to news reports, the Palins received early access to the National Archives, a building that often draws long lines of visitors waiting to enter, and a private escort of the Statue of Liberty.

In the letter, Rep. Blumenauer asked Director Jarvis for a "written explanation of the Park Service's policies on the use of taxpayer-funded resources for publicity events, as well as an accounting of Park Service resources that have been utilized by the 'One Nation' tour."

"For cases in which the Park Service did not have additional personnel on duty as a result of the tour, was manpower diverted from regularly-scheduled services to accommodate the Palin family's visits and is this a routine practice for visiting celebrities?"

Contacted by Politico, Park Service spokesman Jeff Olson said the Palins received pretty much standard treatment for celebrities.

“We see celebrities on a regular basis, it’s something that we’re used to,” he said. “We give them a tour but we also try to not make it a big hoo-ha for all the other visitors. So it’s kind of standard fare if there’s a celebrity or two that show up, we do a special program for them.”

Park Service spokesman David Barna told the Washington Post that, “The Palin visit was a very minor issue. We reached out and contacted her first. They assured us that this was a small family visit, and it was.”

Blumenauer-Palin Letter.pdf78.02 KB


Good Lord, do these congressman have anything else better to do? Do they know the economy is starting to tank again?

Seriously, isn't it time for these idiots in Congress to get back to the things that actually matter to their constituents?

why do you do a special show for them,if i saked would you accomdate me???i am just a regualr tax paying citizen...

I very much dislike having our National Park System used for political purposes, particularly those politicians who have little knowlege or interest in our history. And it's particularly repulsive having the Gettysburg National Military Park used for a cheap political shill. GNMP stands for so much more. "Sacred soil" can be a cliche, but in this case it's appropriate.

"The politicians are coming!!! The politicians are coming!!!"

This is pure political theatre and irrational Palin hatred at work here.

Maybe the congressmen would have a point if we weren't on the precipice of a double dip recession, rising unemployment, under an avalanche of overwhelming government debt, a failing Medicare and Social Secruity system, a third war in Libya, and a failing public school system. If all these problems were solved, then I would agree that we should allow are elected officials to engage in trivial matters.

Irrational Palin hatred?

How about very rational Palin disgust.

Nothing irrational about that.

Love her or hate her, you have to admit every politician is playing politics every minute they're in public. Obama's done the same thing in National Parks. It sounds like the Congressman spent about 60 seconds telling his aid to write a letter, and it appears Palin got the same treatment Peyton Manning or Charlie Sheen would have (though I imagine Sheen's visit would have been more rhetorically entertaining.) I'm sure the country's business continued to be tended to while this letter crossed town.

Sounds like plain old pure jealousy. I love that Sarah can push people's thin-skinned buttons so easily.

Much ado about zippo. As distasteful as this is to some, if not many, NPS routinely "accommodates" VIP visitors. When you've got a news media entourage and fans trailing behind you, you're a VIP. NPS was correct to reach out ahead of time, proactively, to accommodate the potential ruckus. As Olson said, standard treatment for celebs, no big deal.

I'm not a fan of Palin, but I would think that this kind of special treatment was actually prudent to avoid the inevitable zoo. I don't know if it was necessarily her political stature that got her the VIP treatment, but her celebrity.

Oprah Winfrey got special treatment in Yosemite, although she was an invited guest. Prince William and his new bride will be visiting Yosemite in July. I'm sure they'll get specific escorts and perhaps a security detail. Politicians of all leanings have gotten special treatment when visiting NPS units. However - I'm guessing that most politicians aren't as easily recognized.

Let's rephrase the question to make it politically neutral: To what extent should the NPS spend its scant funds to provide extra support to a private citizen who does not currently hold public office?

That is a question worthy of investigation.

Perhaps the bigger concern here is that Rep. Earl Blumenauer apparently doesn't have a clue about which sites are even administered by the NPS.

According to another news report, his letter to Director Jarvis complained about NPS special treatment for Palin at both Mount Vernon and the National Archives. The NPS has no role in the management of either of those locations.

She should have been treated like any private citizen that goes to a NP. Pay at the gate and explore. Millions of Americans do not get special treatment from the NPS, IE going into places early with a personal Ranger escort. That is ludacris. She does not hold public office, if anything she's trying to get more attention. Now if the Future King of England comes to Yosemite, that is a different story. He is some what a potential head of state, and will command extra security. And should be treated as such. I am sorry this was a publicity ploy for Palin, and the NPS fell for it hook, line and sinker. Time for the NPS rethink, who needs special treatment or not.

So a Congressman is asking for an investigation about possibly unwise use of taxpayer dollars and the self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives are whining? (I'll even concede there's a political element--it's not say Senator Coburn who's pursuing this issue.) I'm not sure which is more nauseating, conservative hypocrisy or conservative ignorance. I need a week in Dinosaur to get away from their noise machine.

Jim Burnett:
Perhaps the bigger concern here is that Rep. Earl Blumenauer apparently doesn't have a clue about which sites are even administered by the NPS.

According to another news report, his letter to Director Jarvis complained about NPS special treatment for Palin at both Mount Vernon and the National Archives. The NPS has no role in the management of either of those locations.

The letter is an attachment to this article. It doesn't read to me that the letter was necessarily saying that Mount Vernon or the National Archives were NPS managed. The sentence that mentions those sites mentions NPS in addition to those two sites. It also specifically mentions that her 10-person escort at the Statue of Liberty included NYPD. It reads like a laundry list of concerns about different public funds being used for this tour - not just out of the NPS budget.

Palin should be treated exactly as any ordinary person would be, for that is what she is. This special treatment by the NPS is particularly ironic, however, given her vehement hostility toward federal lands, parks, forests, wildlife and other non-commercial resources in the public arena. I think the NPS needs to tighten up its policies here, otherwise there will be further friction, and the last thing we need is an NPS that smells of politicization.

OK, So now the Folks that like Sara Palin still like her and the ones that hate her still hate her.
I took it that possibly the Park Service, Etc.,Thought that there would be considerably less chaos if she toured seperately, thus giving consideration to the other citizens interested in touring that day. If I were going to experience The Statue of Liberty, I would hope to avoid being there at the same time as Ms. Palin. If I were in charge I might very well have done as they did.
And I whole heartedly agree with Steve O. Has to be a better way to spend your time and thoughts right now with the work that needs doing in This Country.
So, in my humble opinion this is another wash.
Ron (obxguys)

I find it ridiculous that anyone in Washington, D.C. would take the time to complain about anyone else getting "special treatment" at the expense of taxpayers. Every person sitting in the ranks of Congress and the Executive Branch receive untold special treatment at the expense of taxpayers. Special healthcare that no one else has available, special retirement benefits that no one else has access to. Countless millions of dollars are spent on special treatment for people who are supposed to be working for us, and this guy has nothing else better to do than waste valuable time demanding an accounting of something like this. How much of a "waste" do we expect to find here...a few thousand dollars? Let's try concentrating on the real sources of millions and billions of wasted tax dollars.

What would have been the situation if Mrs. Palin just showed up with no official pre-visit notification to the NPS and why does the congressman even care? Because he'll ... do anything to try to make Palin look disfavorable. Sarah Palin has just as much right to access to any national park as does anyone else does. She is currently NOT in office or even running for office, she is just a citizen like you and I, what's the big deal?

This comment was edited to remove gratuitous verbiage.--Ed.

The last three short paragraphs tell it all.

This is pretty clearly politics all around: Palin using the parks to show off her "campaign" bus (and muffle Pawlenty's announcement). And Blumenauer scoring in the OR-3, which has a PVI of somewhere in the neighborhood of D+infinity.

Um, the fee waiver for Ken Burns filming cost the government a ton more money than this ever would have, but promoting one private citizen that happens to make documentaries vs another isn't fun to talk about.

I don't think this is unwarranted as some people are suggesting. In my opinion this is the kind of stuff that needs to be done in order to keep every one honest. He asks them to look into it, and if they do and find nothing, great - move on. But leaving every one unchecked is not the answer.