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Debunking the Latest Sarah Palin Smear

10:09 AM, Sep 24, 2008 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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A Democratic legislator in Alaska who sponsored a bill to require the state to pay for the cost of examining the victims of rapes and collecting evidence has told the press that Wasilla, the town where Sarah Palin was mayor, resisted this measure:

"It was one of those things everyone could agree on except Wasilla," Croft told CNN. "We couldn't convince the chief of police to stop charging them."

CNN cites a report that Wasilla's police chief said he wanted to charge the rapists rather than the taxpayers for these bills. But Jim Geraghty reports there appears to be no evidence that victims were actually billed. He writes: "in six committee meetings, Wasilla was never mentioned, even when the discussion turned to the specific topic of where victims were being charged." Also:

The deputy commissioner of Alaska's Department of Public Safety told the State Affairs Committee that he has never found a police agency that has billed a victim. In light of Wasilla's low number of rapes according to available FBI statistics (one to two per year, compared to Juneau's 30-39), and the fact that the Wasilla Finance Department cannot find any record of charging a victim for a rape kit, it is entirely possible that no victim was ever charged.

Del Smith, the state's deputy commissioner at the Department of Public Safety, testified in support of the rape-kit-charging-ban legislation during multiple hearings. During one, state representative Jeannette James asked if she "understood correctly that Mr. Smith is saying that the department has never billed a victim for exams."

Smith replied that "the department might have been billed, but he has not found any police agency that has ever billed a victim."

To clarify: In preparation to attend a hearing and support the bill, one of the state's top law-enforcement officials found no case of a rape victim ever being charged. And roughly a month after 30 Democratic lawyers, investigators, and opposition researchers, not to mention reporters from every major news agency in the country, landed in Alaska, we still have no instances to consider.

The allegation against Palin in the nation's most widely distributed paper a couple weeks ago - "An aide to a Democratic state legislator tells USA Today that women in Wasilla did pay out of pocket for their rape kits" - is clearly not sufficient, considering the gravity of the charge, the obvious motive to paint Palin badly, and the lack of any corroborating evidence.

There is no indication that Sarah Palin was aware that these costs weren't already covered by the government by law, but if CNN and USA Today want to write this kind of story, perhaps these news outlets should cover reports that in 2004 there were cases in Barack Obama's Illinois of caseworkers "reporting that rape victims continue to be charged for their forensic exams."