Back in 2013 I wrote a couple of articles for Po'Gates on Sarah PAC's wild spending habits (part 1 and part 2). I didn't follow up in 2014 because there wasn't really anything new. Not much has changed this year either. But Sarah PAC is such an interesting phenomena and a good example of Republican 'fiscal responsibility' in action that it's worth another look.
Download the new SarahPAC filing for the first half of 2015 here.
The Overall NumbersI have to admit I was surprised at the amount that Palin raised in the first half of 2015, almost $490,000. I thought it would be much less. This is actually more than she raised in the closest equivalent period, the first half of 2013, about $460,000. Both of these are much less than the $1.67 million she raised in the first half of 2011 when she was considered by many to be a possible Presidential candidate.
In the first half of 2013 she kept the expenses in check spending only about $30,000 more than she took in. This year however, Sarah Palin already spent over $750,000, $260,000 more than she took in. As a result her cash on hand is now at its lowest point since the PAC was formed, just over $560,000. It was about $820,000 at the beginning of the year.
In the second half of 2013 she managed to pull in $710,000. I'll really be surprised if she can do anything near that in 2015. We'll see. With ShePAC they bled it dry before turning out the lights. Sarah PAC likely has at least a couple of years of useful grifting life left in it. Sarah is making sure her cronies get their fill now while the getting is good.
The Great Candidate Dump of 2015Sarah announced in June that she was donating to over 40 candidates. This seemed odd for a couple of reasons. First, why now? The primary for anyone running in 2016 is still a year away. In many cases we don't even know who's running yet. Secondly, why so many candidates? I think it was simply to sound impressive. Sarah usually gives $5,000 to each candidate so giving this to 40 candidates would indeed be impressive.
Sarah PAC gives no explanation as to why the list of 43 candidates was picked over others. As far as I know they have never even provided the list of the candidates they donated to. (Their website used to list the candidates she endorsed but doesn't any more.) Looking at the list of candidates it consists mainly of some lesser known Tea Party leaning members of the House of Representatives. Noticeably missing are any 'GOPe' candidates like Rand Paul or Marco Rubio who Palin has endorsed in the past.
Now that the numbers are out we see that Sarah didn't tell us she's giving these candidates far less than she usually does. Most of the candidates got only $500 while seven got $1,000 for a total of $25,000.
There's one other donation of $10,000 to the Naval Special Warfare Family Foundation which is like a Wounded Warriors project for Navy Seals because you know Sarah is just so in love with veterans.
That brings the total 'program' spending amount to $35,000 or 4.6 percent of the total revenues. The other 95.4 percent is 'expenses'.
So What Are You Getting For Your Money?As has always been the case with Sarah PAC, it's hard to explain what they're doing with all the money that they're spending. The Sarah PAC website is a perfect example of that. The site was re-designed early this year. A splash page was added about a month ago. I work in IT and I have a good idea what this redesign should have cost. My guess would be $5K at most. New to the expense list this time around is Harris Media, a group that specializes in right wing social media sites. They've charged the PAC over $43,000 this year.
The level of lethargy with regard to the Sarah PAC site is unreal. When the redesign was done early in the year they didn't have any new content. They took three articles from November of 2014 and simply changed the dates to 2015. Right now, if you go to "All Posts" the third most recent one listed is entitled "Victory" and dated January 28, 2015. It starts out saying "Last night was huge." The night they're referring to was the election night last November!
Updates to the website are few and far between. There was even a post announcing the engagement of Bristol and Dakota that was on the main page of the site for a good month after they wedding was called off. (As with Bristol's Instagram, any mention of Dakota has been scrubbed from the site.) Right now, the latest post is a brief paragraph for July 4. The other four posts on the main page are dated between March 18 and April 22.
Fun with ConsultantsSarah PAC's heavy spending on consultants is well documented. This report is no exception. Over $375,000 was spent on on consultants, many of them Sarah's cronies. This is almost 50% of the total PAC receipts! (This considers the web designers, lawyers, photographer and part-time clerical as 'consultants'.) Again, trying to figure out what these people actually do for their money is baffling.
There are five people receiving a monthly payment that generates a full-time salary:
- Tim Crawford (Treasurer) - Fundraising - $138,000 / year
- Grey Strategies (Doug McMarlin)- Logistics - $96,000 / year
- Northstar Strategies (Jason Recher, Sarah's "bodyguard" for many years, and Doug McMarlin) - Logistics - $96,000 / year
- Rebecca Mansour ("RAM", the original founder of Conservatives4Palin, who once very secretly started to work for SarahPAC) - Aries Petra- Speechwriting - $72,000 / year
- Andrew Davis - Logistics / Research - $67,500 / year
There are also two part-time clerical people from Wasilla making $2,500 a month, and some other consultants. She spent $3,000 on a travel agent. Who uses travel agents any more? Another new consultant is Heimdallr LLC that earned $10,000 for "speechwriting, research".
Here is for example more info about Jason Recher and Doug McMarlin, who both belong to Sarah Palin's closest circle for years. They also worked extremely closely with George W. Bush and also with people like Karl Rove, which is apparently no contradiction for "Tea Party icon" Sarah Palin:
With experience in public policy, strategic consulting, reputation management, and publishing and corporate positioning, Jason Recher and Doug McMarlin have served as advisors to many of the nation's most prominent officials, including President George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Senator John McCain, and Sarah Palin. Together they operate NorthStar Strategies, LLC, where they work to create major media and political strategy campaigns; implement national best-selling tours; and function as liaisons, publicists, and advisors within the political, publishing, and entertainment sectors.
Together, they were responsible for the public rollout strategy for the two top-selling nonfiction books of 2009 and 2010: Going Rogue: An American Life by Sarah Palin and Decision Points by George W. Bush. By implementing strategic plans that included specific demographics and a combination of grassroots, social networking, and extensive media to each publishing client, the books reached the top three on the New York Times Bestseller List.
Both Recher and McMarlin worked closely with the George W. Bush Administration, McMarlin serving as one of a select group of individuals who traveled on the President's behalf in advance of foreign and domestic missions to plan and execute the visit's logistical and message aspects; and Recher as Special Assistant to the President, with duties that included planning, coordinating, and executing each detail of the President's travel. The two were also Senior Advisors to then-Governor Sarah Palin, Recher aiding the McCain for President Campaign; and McMarlin heading SarahPAC during the 2010 mid-term elections, implementing successful national media initiatives and political and logistical strategy that resulted in significant 2010 election victories.
Two of the most well-known and respected Republican strategists, Jason Recher and Doug McMarlin speak on such topics as crisis management and "designer politics."
"Crisis-management" - well, Sarah Palin can never have enough of that!
The legal struggles related to the use of the 9/11 video don't appear to have cost Sarah that much considering how expensive legal fees can be. A retainer of $7,500 was given to the firm that did the work on the copyright case and about $7,000 went to her regular lawyers.
Have PAC, Will TravelI find this to be the most scandalous part of Sarah PAC. Sarah PAC now sends out emails with every right-wing news item saying how they can help solve the problem. For example, with the Planned Parenthood issue, Sarah PAC asks for your help in getting candidates elected who will do what she wants. Same thing with the Iran deal. Sometimes they need $15, sometimes $20. They never give a clue what the money will be used for. Even the bots have complained about how poorly written some of these emails are.
Sarah flew to New York in February for a brief appearance on Saturday Night Live's Anniversary Special. I can't figure out the exact airfare from the FEC report, but there is a stay at the Waldorf Astoria in NY at that time with a bill of $4,562! Along with this, there's a limo charge of $3,854! Assuming the airfare was at least $1,500, would bring the total cost of this trip to over $10,000.
Also in February, Sarah gave a speech to the prestigious National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) in Florida. I can't determine the exact airfare or rental car expenses for this trip but we can see that she ran up a $4,300 bill at the swanky La Playa hotel in Naples.
Finally, there was a trip to Las Vegas in January where Sarah presented Ted Nugent with the Golden Moose Award. (No, that's not a joke.) That one only generated about $1,000 in hotel expenses but it included a $16,000 charter air flight with a $228 catering bill associated with it. This event was the same day as the SHOTSHOW event where Sarah and Dakota held up the F You Michael Moore sign.
Bristol Palin proudly posted about the trip in January 2015 to Las Vegas on her Instagram, boasting about the "fun trip to Vegas" - posing with Sarah in front of the private jet, which was paid by the rubes!
Here is the screenshot from the Instagram, slightly altered:
Filing for this private flight:
Please note that there was an additional trip by the Palin-family to Las Vegas in February 2015 for Sarah Palin's birthday. For this trip, we can "only" find a receipt for the Venetian hotel.
There were other trips as well. Overall, Sarah spent at least $35,000 on airfare, over $7,500 on rental cars and $12,350 on lodging. There are also over $27,000 in credit card expenses that aren't itemized but appear to be mainly related to travel. All told, this is over $85,000 in travel expenses!
First, one has to ask how responsible it is to spend so lavishly on travel when spending other people's money. Why the heck does she need to charter flights and stay in first class hotels?
Secondly, if you're a conservative wanting to see Sarah's type of candidates get elected, how does it help the cause to have Sarah flying across the country acting like a high end celebrity? It's just a poor use of money in that regard.
No Immediate Help For The RubesPart of my desire to write this was to show the bots how irresponsible Sarah is with their money. But they've seen this data before at this site and elsewhere and have excused for her behavior. As noted at the beginning, Sarah is doing the same scam and continues to get away with it.
It looks like PT Barnum was right about one being born every minute. Sarah likely has at least a year or two left to bleed her people some more. I don't know whether that's sad or funny.