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.”