Friday, March 29, 2013

SarahPAC – Effective PAC or Sarah Palin's Personal Slush Fund?

"Got a penny?"


By VinnieF

Sarah Palin released a new video that is being promoted by her political action committee, SarahPAC. The video makes the case that Sarah Palin is a powerful voice of the conservative movement that has influenced key elections in 2010 and 2012 and she stands to do so again in 2014.

The underlying message is that SarahPAC, not just Sarah herself, is behind these electoral victories.  And it needs your money to continue.

This article digs into what exactly SarahPAC has done as a PAC to help get people elected.  One must separate an endorsement from Sarah and her speaking on behalf of a candidate, which can easily be done without a PAC, vs. the typical activities that a PAC does (i.e. mailers, TV ads).

While Sarah does do the former, SarahPAC does little of these typical PAC activities, leaving one to wonder what the donors are getting for their hard earned dollars.

Sarah’s supporters will tell you that she had to quit her job as governor due to the personal financial hardship of numerous, bogus ethical investigations. But even they can’t deny that Sarah has done rather well for herself after leaving the Governor’s mansion and its $125,000 salary (and its restrictions on earning outside income). ABC News conservatively estimated that Sarah Palin has made $12 million from her book deals, speaker’s fees, TV reality shows, FOX News appearances, etc. since resigning. While everyone has a right to cash in on any fame that should come their way, it’s easy to argue that Sarah’s number one cause after resigning as governor has been helping out herself and her family.

A good charity will spend at least 75% of their funds on their actual programs as opposed to administrative costs (good read: Charities with the highest admin costs in the USA). While comparison to a charity may have its limitations, it’s obvious that SarahPAC doesn’t exhibit the “fiscal responsibility” one would expect of a fiscal conservative.

FEC filings show that between 2009 and 2012, SarahPAC took in $10,600,000 and spent about $9,500,000. During this period she gave only $815,000 to the candidates she endorsed. That’s less than 9 percent spent on actually helping other candidates get elected!

A review of her expenditures doesn’t show any independent expenditures which is what most PACs do. By comparison, Karl Rove’s American Crossroads PAC spent 89.5% of its total expenses ($117,000,000) on independent expenditures for the two year period from 2011 to 2012.

The high point of SarahPAC’s spending orgy was arguably during the six month period from 1/1/11 through 6/30/11 where nearly $1.6 million was spent. Keep in mind that this period is during the low point of the campaign season. The consulting fees are astounding; $18,000 for ‘coalition consulting’, $30,000 for ‘chief of staff consulting’, $45,000 for ‘issue consulting’, $44,000 for ‘logistical trip consulting’, and $47,500 for political consulting. The great speech giver Sarah needed $40,000 to help write those speeches. Over $50,000 was spent on legal fees and $90,000 was spent on six months of the treasurer’s salary. Of course, the millionaire Sarah can’t pay for her own travel. The PAC paid for $103,000 in airfare and $15,000 in lodging. Over $550,000 was spent on direct mail and postage! This is Sarah asking her fans for more money. Priorities. Finally, the bus wrap for the infamous bus trip cost $13,700 and Sarah’s Israel trip cost at least $5,800.

"I need the consultants to read my newspapers, god dammit!"

So, what did her fans see as a result of all of these costs? Well, there was the bus tour and numerous posts on her website talking about the bus tour. I’ll let Sarah explain how all of this actually led to more conservatives being elected. I certainly can’t figure it out.

After her great tease in 2011, SarahPAC laid low during the critical 2012 election. She almost endorsed Gingrich during the primary and only endorsed Romney with a few days left in the campaign. The PAC gave Romney $5,000.

The SarahPAC site continued to lay low in 2013 with only four posts all year. The latest post is about the new fundraising video, the prior two talk about her CPAC speech, and there’s one from January where Ted Cruz thanks her for her support. Going back last year there is a Christmas/Newtown post in Sarah’s typical word salad. The post before that is from June 25 bragging about her inventing the term ‘death panel’. Yes, the influential SarahPAC went through the entire 2012 campaign season without adding a single post to their website.

Sarah’s YouTube channel isn’t much better. Besides this latest video, the next most recent one is an 11 month old, 20 second trailer from FOX News.

Now, with Sarah not having a regular job and people being wise to her teasing ways, she sees a new niche rife for grifting – anger at moderate Republicans for not sharing the views of the extreme right. Not having any real world responsibilities, it’s easy for Sarah to talk as if she has all the answers to today’s problems. Sarah says she could get the right people in office and successfully rebrand her party. Just give her enough money and she’ll get it done.

Ted Cruz is playing along and saying he couldn’t have gotten elected without Sarah. SarahPAC gave him $5,000 in 2012.  This represents a whopping 0.034 percent of the $14,511,279 that Cruz raised altogether. So, it clearly wasn’t SarahPAC’s money that made the difference.

While Palin did give a speech at one of his campaign events, she was hardly out campaigning regularly for Cruz or any of the other candidates she endorsed.  Again, we don’t see any of the typical activities that a PAC does to help out a candidate. Indeed, most people who do exactly what Sarah did for Cruz, do so for other candidates without asking for any money, let alone having to form a PAC to do so.

In conclusion, Sarah’s PAC doesn’t do much to help candidates get elected outside of putting up a website that lists Sarah’s endorsements and redirecting some money their way. We don’t see any strategic campaign assistance, volunteer coordination, mailers, etc. Less than 10 percent of the money generated by SarahPAC actually goes to candidates and their campaigns. Given all this, the fiscally responsible thing to do would be for Sarah to put up her list of endorsed candidates and have her minions give their money directly to the candidates. If your goal is really to get ‘common sense’ conservatives elected, there is no need for SarahPAC at all.


Bonus (by Patrick):

Many thanks for our reader VinnieF for this excellent post! Today, Sarah Palin has become the laughingstock of the media (again), following an article by the Daily Beast about the expenditures of SarahPAC to Sarah's numerous consultants. This article has quickly been picked up by Huffington Post, TPM and others. Good! It's always nice to see when the hated "lamestream media" takes on Quitler, the fraudster from the North.

There is another noteworthy development. The fact that Sarah Palin takes credit for Marco Rubio's election in her new clip, as VinnieF also mentioned, raised eyebrows, to put it mildly. The "Tampa Bay Times" felt compelled to publish what could be regarded as an "inside view" in response.

The "Tampa Bay Times" make some interesting observations, and the do not agree with the claim made by Sarah Palin:

Sarah Palin, enjoying a mini resurgence after her CPAC speech, is trying to feed her PAC and promoting herself as a kingmaker. In a new video, her PAC takes credit for picking winners from Ted Cruz to Marco Rubio.

But anyone who follows Florida politics knows Rubio kept a distance from Palin and she only showed interest after he was surging.

From a Nov. 8, 2010, Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald story: Rubio had an opportunity to cozy up to tea party darling and former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, but his campaign never emphasized her support. "Marco, keep up the good work. Call me. Can I help ya?" Palin told a conservative blogger who asked about Rubio at a conservative gathering in New Orleans in April. He never did. In the final stretch of the campaign, when it was clear he would win, Rubio showed up to a big rally in Orlando featuring Palin. But he left before she came on stage, denying opponents a photograph that could be used against him in the future.

Well, I am sure that in her head, Sarah rules the world.

Finally, I would like to quote the late Walter Cronkite, only slighty altered (original quote at 0:23 in this clip):

"Old grifters, you see, don't fade away, 
they just keep coming back for more."

Unfortunately, there are too many "low information voters" around who might fall for Sarah Palin's "easy to see through propaganda." The great folks at "NewLeftMedia" again provided more than enough evidence for the existence of these voters a few months ago when they interviewed supporters at a Mitt Romney rally. As I said before, it is always scary as hell to witness that the propaganda of Fox News and others actually works (clips HERE and HERE).

Have an enjoyable Good Friday, everyone!



Let's give the "Last Word" to Lawrence O'Donnell and his guest Krystal Ball!



Daily Beast and CNN contributor John Avlon, who became the object of hate today for the Palinbots due to his widely read article in the Daily Beast, appeared on CNN and explained again his criticism regarding SarahPAC:

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