Like Atrios, I’d stayed away from the rape kits story because some of the details seemed shaky and it was explosive enough to ignore until it firmed up. Now it has. Eight years ago, the Alaskan Legislature had to pass a bill that banned towns from charging rape victims for the kits used to prove the crime and capture the perpetrator. These kits cost between $300 and $1,200 a piece, and are an essential portion of the investigation. There was only one town in the state doing this: Wasilla, where Sarah Palin was mayor. This was the same town that received tens of millions of dollars in pork, and had the money to hire a high-priced lobbying firm to bring in yet more. Shame Ted Stevens couldn’t appropriate some money so rape victims weren’t hit with a $1,000 bill.
Palin wasn’t the head of the Wasilla police department, but in a town that tiny, it’s difficult to imagine that she didn’t know what was going on — especially when the issue was important enough for the state legislature to intervene. “Shame” is certainly the appropriate word.
And HuffPo gathers even more evidence of Palin’s direct involvement in billing survivors for their rape kits (thanks Cara for the link):
Despite denials by the Palin campaign, new evidence proves that as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, Sarah Palin had a direct hand in imposing fees to pay for post-sexual assault medical exams conducted by the city to gather evidence.
Palin’s role is now confirmed by Wasilla City budget documents available online.
Under Sarah Palin’s administration, Wasilla cut funds that had previously paid for the medical exams and began charging victims or their health insurers the $500 to $1200 fees. Although Palin spokeswoman Maria Comella wrote USA Today earlier this week that the GOP vice presidential nominee “does not believe, nor has she ever believed, that rape victims should have to pay for an evidence-gathering test…To suggest otherwise is a deliberate misrepresentation of her commitment to supporting victims and bringing violent criminals to justice,” Palin, as mayor, fired police chief Irl Stambaugh and replaced him with Charlie Fannon, who with Palin’s knowledge, slashed the budget for the exams and began charging the city’s victims of sexual assault. The city budget documents demonstrate Palin read and signed off on the new budget. A year later, alarmed Alaska lawmakers passed legislation outlawing the practice.
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