With the U.S. presidential campaign heating up, a leading U.S. daily on Sunday claimed that the Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin misused her job as Governor of Alaska to dole out plum jobs to her friends.
Palin appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister as the director of the State Division of Agriculture with a pay packet of 95,000 dollars per annum.
Havemeister, a former real estate agent, cited her childhood love of cows as a qualification for running the roughly 2 million-dollar agency, The New York Times reported.
Havemeister was one of at least five schoolmates the charismatic 44-year-old Palin hired, often at salaries far exceeding their private sector wages, it said.
An examination of Palin's swift rise and record as mayor of Wasilla and then governor finds that her visceral style and penchant for attacking critics contrasts with her carefully crafted public image, it said.
"Throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her path and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, the report quoted a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials.
Many lawmakers contend that Palin, the running mate of Republican presidential nominee, John McCain, is overly reliant on a small inner circle that leaves her isolated.
Democrats and Republicans alike describe her as often missing in action.
During the last legislative session, some lawmakers became so frustrated with her absences that they took to wearing "Where's Sarah?" pins.