Sarah Palin and her folksy turns of phrase returned to the stump last week, trailing amped-up Trump fans and self-serving fundraising requests in her wake.
“In order to get Sarah to political events to support endorsed candidates we need your help to fundraise her travel,” said an email from Sarah PAC after her “historic” Trump endorsement.
It’s true, travel is expensive. After all, what self-respecting reality TV star stays at a Holiday Inn these days?
And where does all of that money come from?
According to Federal Election Commission reports, in the first six months of last year, Sarah PAC—Palin’s organization that purports to be dedicated “to help[ing] elect principled, conservative leaders” spent $16,062 on a private charter in Jackson, Wyoming, $3,855 on a “car and driver” in Long Island City, New York, and a total of $4,364 at La Playa Hotel in Naples, Florida.
So as much as Palin rages against the Washington political machine, the consultant class and all the “elites,” the spending by Sarah PAC shows that it remains the same lifestyle-fundin’, consultant-payin’ organization it has been since she launched it in 2009.
Now, it’s all legal and—to be fair—$35,000 of the $825,556 that Sarah PAC began with in 2015 ($493,507 of which was raised in the first six months of last year) actually went to federal candidates and causes in the first half of last year: $25,000 to candidates for federal offices and $10,000 to the Navy Seal WFF Family Foundation, a charity for the families of the Naval special forces.
But after that, it seems that the PAC has had more to do with pumping up Palin and her entourage than pumping up conservative candidates.
For example, $38,000 was spent on speechwriting—$36,000 of which went to Aries Petra Consulting LLC, owned by longtime Palin aide Rebecca Mansour.
Of course that last expense may not be showing up in future filings, as RAM has moved on up.
Well not so much "up" as "over" to the dark side.
I think my favorite part of this article is how it lists the lists how the donations have dwindled over the years:
A look through FEC filings for Sarah PAC throughout the years, shows the bulk the money—largely from small donors —has been spent disproportionately on the people who run the PAC as well as fundraising efforts and direct mail.
For example, in 2010, the first election cycle after Palin’s unsuccessful bid for vice president, Sarah PAC raised $5.7 million, spent about $4.4 million, of which $467,000 went to conservative candidates.
The numbers from 2012 aren’t terribly different: $5 million raised, $5.1 million spent, $298,500 went to candidates.
And in 2014, SarahPac raised $2.8 million, spent $3.1 million with $205,000 of the haul going to candidates.
I never get tired of watching Palin's credibility and support crumble all around her.
Of course most of this we have already documented ourselves here on IM over the years, but the fact that a news outlet like the Daily Beast is talking about it ahead of the next filings shows that there may be more scrutiny this time around, and I imagine they will have much to scrutinize.
And by "much," I mean expenditures, not incoming donations.