Palins yet to claim Exxon Valdez oil spill compensation money
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is not shy about voicing her opinions to national audiences, headlining big-ticket political events and exposing her family and personal life on reality TV.
But so far the former Alaska governor and her husband Todd Palin have not come forward to claim their share of a settlement fund established for victims of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.
The pair was among the nearly 1,000 plaintiffs who have not claimed their payouts on a list released last week by managers of the settlement fund.
Some on the list are dead. Some are missing. But some, said the attorney managing the payouts, are simply lacking paperwork needed to process their payments.
The latter could include the famous as well as the obscure, said Lynn Sarko, the Seattle attorney administering the Exxon Qualified Settlement Fund.
"If Barack Obama were on the list, I know where he is, but I don't necessarily have all of his paperwork," Sarko said on Monday.
Sarko said he was not permitted to give specific information about the Palins' claims but he confirmed that most people were generally owed hundreds of dollars.
As the reality TV show "Sarah Palin's Alaska" documented, the Palins fish commercially in southwestern Alaska's Bristol Bay, far from the Prince William Sound and Gulf of Alaska sites fouled with oil.
Such fishermen are members of the "unoiled fisheries" classes and are entitled to shares of spill funds, based on a finding that fears of oil tainting had depressed Alaska salmon prices in general, Sarko said.
"There was a tremendous price drop, especially in southeast Alaska," he said, adding that of the $1 billion settlement Exxon paid to private plaintiffs in compensation, punitive fines and interest, only about $1 million is left to be doled out.
An Alaska-based lawyer who represents the Palins in other matters, John Tiemessen, said he was not involved in the case and did not know the status of the claims.
Any remaining unclaimed payments will eventually revert to the plaintiffs' last known home states and be put into government unclaimed-asset funds, he said.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)
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