Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sarah PAC Report First Half of 2015 - The Grifting Continues: 95.4% of the Revenues are "Expenses", mainly for Consultants, Lavish Travel, Swanky Hotels and Limos

By VinnieF

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 Numbers

I 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 2015

Sarah 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 Consultants

Sarah 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:
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 Travel

I 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 Rubes

Part 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.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Levi Johnston - Alaska Sport and Fishing Guide Business

By Kathleen

Levi Johnston has set up a new business as a Sport Fishing Guide. I understand that the name of the company is actually Alaskan Dreams Charters and not Alaska Dream Charters as written on the license and that the name will be fixed quite soon.

 Setting up his own guide business has been Levi's goal for a long time and I believe that the family has plans and hopes that the business will develop into something bigger in the future.  

Levi is also a qualified electrician. Holding down two jobs is an indication of how determined and hard working he is. It also goes to show that he is a courageous family man who has dreams for his family's future and well being. With the help of his beautiful, hard working wife their lives are sure too flourish.

We here at Politicalgates wish Levi and his family well for the development and expansion of his dream business.

Friday, July 17, 2015

This Summer or Early Fall President Obama May Visit Todd Palin's Home Town, Dillingham, Alaska. UPDATE: Alaska Dispatch News Confirms President Obama Will attend Anchorage conference in late August

By Kathleen

On Nov. 12, 2009  President Obama visited Elmendorf Air Force Base. During his first trip to the state on his way to Asia, the President delivered a speech to thousands of Alaska military men and women, their families, veterans and others. Photo courtesy of Mark Begich, Flickr

According to KDLG, the public radio station for Bristol Bay, in Alaska,
"a team from the White House will be in Dillingham this Thursday and Friday to check out the town ahead of a possible visit by President Obama later this year."

The Mayor of Dillingham, Alice Ruby, revealed: 

"We were contacted by some Washington staffers to tell us that it’s possible the President would make a trip to Alaska sometime in the late summer or fall, and that it’s also possible that he might visit some rural communities, and Dillingham had made the list of those communities," said Ruby. "So a pre-advance team would visit and look at different facilities and meetings and so on."

Mayor Ruby went on to say:

 "the team will visit various facilities, including the airport, the hospital, the school and the campus."

And she thinks that:

"Dillingham may be one of several Alaskan communities receiving such a visit this summer."

The last time that President Obama was in Alaska was in November 2009, when during a brief visit he honoured veterans and military men and women at Elmendorf military base. During the trip he revealed that he would like to make a longer visit in the future but that the visit would be during the summer.

If President Obama does visit Dillingham I wonder if it will stimulate some interest from the wife of a certain fish picker who was born and raised there?

Perhaps Mrs Palin will finally get her chance to dazzle and impress the President of the United States with her grace, beauty and fortitude? Maybe Todd will do the honours of turning up to greet the President with his wife, after all he's pretty much been out of sight since the announcement that Bristol's planned wedding to Dakota Meyer was off. Instead, a few weeks later, Bristol announced that she was pregnant.

Please give your best responses of how Sarah Palin will respond to the news of a possible visit by President Obama to Dillingham in the comments. 

Alternatively, you might wish to comment about what measures the President's security might take to avoid any unplanned meet and greet with Dillingham's best known son and his quitter wife. 


The Alaska Dispatch News has confirmed that President Obama will attend a conference in Anchorage discussing the Arctic on 31st August. 

"Obama will attend the State Department's "GLACIER" conference, which "will convene foreign ministers from Arctic nations and key non-Arctic states with scientists, policymakers, and stakeholders from Alaska and the Arctic region to discuss how climate change is reshaping the Arctic, increase global awareness of how Arctic climate change is affecting the rest of the world, and identify individual and collective actions to address these challenges," according to White House spokesperson Hallie Ruvin."

The ADN also writes:

"Long-standing rumors suggest that Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry could visit more than just Anchorage on their visit this summer. 

This week, Dillingham Mayor Alice Ruby told local public radio station KDLG that White House staffers had contacted the community about a potential visit, and a team arrived there to visit the local airport, hospital and school, among other facilities."


Friday, July 10, 2015

Confederate Flag Taken Down From State Capitol in South Carolina

By Kathleen

The day after Nikki Haley signed a Bill to remove the Confederate Battle flag from the State Capitol grounds of South Carolina the flag has been taken down. Watching the event were family members of the nine innocent victims whose tragic deaths prompted recent demands that the flag should be removed because it is regarded by many as a symbol of hate and division. 

Confederate Battle Flag is lowered.

There were a few supporters of the flag in the crowd but many of the thousands who gathered to watch the historic event seemed to be in favour of the flag's removal. 

Hopefully the removal of the flag will be just one step towards the discussions that need to take place regarding racism in the USA. 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th July, everybody!

By Patrick

Happy 4th July, everybody! Have a great weekend!

The 4th July 1776 was the day when the Americans declared themselves independent from an autocratic Empire. It was an event which inspired many people around the world, as the Wall Street Journal explained an interesting article from 2014.


The Declaration of Independence is the birth certificate of the American nation—the first public document ever to use the name "the United States of America"—and has been fundamental to American history longer than any other text. It enshrined what came to be seen as the most succinct and memorable statement of the ideals on which the U.S. was founded: the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; the consent of the governed; and resistance to tyranny.

But the Declaration's influence wasn't limited to the American colonies of the late 18th century. No American document has had a greater impact on the wider world. As the first successful declaration of independence in history, it helped to inspire countless movements for independence, self-determination and revolution after 1776 and to this very day. As the 19th-century Hungarian nationalist, Lajos Kossuth, put it, the U.S. Declaration of Independence was nothing less than "the noblest, happiest page in mankind's history."


The Declaration of Independence was addressed as much to the world at large as to the population of the American colonies. In the opening paragraph, its authors— Thomas Jefferson, the five-member congressional committee of which he was part and the Second Continental Congress itself—appealed to "the opinions of Mankind." They submitted an extensive list of facts to "a candid world" to prove that King George III had acted tyrannically. His colonial subjects could rightfully leave the British Empire. They solemnly declared "That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES," possessing "the full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of right do."

The colonists declared, in short, that they were now citizens rather than subjects and asked other "powers of the earth" to decide whether or not to acknowledge the United States of America among their number. The colonists needed military, diplomatic and commercial help in their struggle against Great Britain; only a major power, like France or Spain, could supply that aid. So long as they remained within the British Empire, they would be treated as rebels. If they organized themselves into political bodies with which other powers could engage, then they might become legitimate belligerents in an international conflict rather than treasonous combatants in a civil war.

The Declaration thus marked the entry of one people, constituted into 13 states, into what we would now call international society. It did so by invoking the "law of nations," especially as described in the hugely influential 1758 book of that title by the Swiss jurist Emer de Vattel, a copy of which Benjamin Franklin had sent to Congress in 1775. Vattel spoke the language of rights and freedom, sovereignty and independence, and the Declaration's use of his terms was designed to reassure the world beyond North America that the U.S. would abide by the rules of international behavior. It was as much a declaration of interdependence with other powers as it was a declaration of independence from Great Britain.

This rebellion against autocratic monarchic rule, created a system of democratic rule, was a truly revolutionary act. In addition, this was a genuine, and very powerful progressive act. The fact that today many right-wingers in the USA claim "1776" for themselves can only be a huge misunderstanding.

What I find particularly interesting in light of current political discussions is that the powerful language contained in the Declaration of Independence regarding the equality of all people even today can provide inspiration to make society a better place. It is more than obvious that the Declaration of Independence is a very important liberal document, and it should be treated as such.

From the Wall Street Journal:

It is a striking historical irony that, among white Americans, the Declaration itself almost immediately sank into oblivion, what Abraham Lincoln in 1857 described as "old wadding left to rot on the battlefield after the victory is won." African-Americans, however, were quick to see the Declaration's liberating potential. As early as the summer of 1776, Lemuel Haynes, a free black who had served in the Continental Army, turned to the "self-evident" truth that "all men are created equal" and possess "unalienable rights" as inspiration for an abolitionist sermon.

Among whites, the Fourth of July was widely celebrated but not the Declaration itself. It re-emerged in the early 1790s as a bone of political contention in the partisan struggles between pro-British Federalists and pro-French Republicans after the French Revolution. Only after the War of 1812 and the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 did it become the revered cornerstone of a new American patriotism.

A nice copy can be found online, an original print from the "Pennsylvania Packet" from July 8, 1776:

An interesting historical document is also the "rough draft" by Thomas Jefferson (see the full rough draft here).

First page, click to enlarge:

Also, in a historic recording, Senator John F. Kennedy reads the Declaration of Independence in 1957:

Let's not forget that the founding fathers also were liberals.

For me as a German, it is a joyful historical fact that two years after the Declaration of Independence, in 1778, Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben arrived in Pennsylvania and subsequently had a significant influence on the Revolutionary War.

An interesting clip about von Steuben can be found here.

That's a funny quote from Wikipedia:

As he could not speak or write English, Steuben originally wrote the drills in French, the military language of Europe at the time. (...) The Baron’s willingness and ability to work with the men, as well as his use of profanity (in several different languages), made him popular among the soldiers. He occasionally recruited Captain Benjamin Walker, his French-speaking aide, to curse at them for him in English.

But that's enough history for today!

Enjoy the weekend, and let's work together to make the world a better place!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Open Post - John Fugelsang Destroys Every Pro-Confederate Flag Argument In 3 minutes. UPDATE: Confererate Descendant, Bill Starr, Claims "There is no Honor" in the Confederacy Battle Flag

By Kathleen

Jim Morin, The Miami Herald

A recent poll by the Post and Courier newspaper based in Charleston revealed that more than two thirds of the South Carolina General Assembly would like to see the Confederate battle flag removed from the grounds of the State House.

Protesters called for the removal of the flag following the racially motivated deaths of nine black people in a church in Charleston by Dylann Roof. Roof appeared in photos on social media displaying the Confederate battle flag as a symbol of his white supremacist views. 

However, many supporters of the flag want it to remain at its present site because they feel it is part of their heritage and history, regardless as to how toxic it might appear to other people who view it as a symbol of an oppressive past.

Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle

The Confederacy battle flag has been an issue of controversy for years now and in my opinion no one destroys the myth that it is merely a symbol of heritage or state rights more than John Fugelsang in this video published on youtube in December 2012. 


Senators and House members of South Carolina who have declared that you want to see that symbol of oppression removed I hope you all turn up for the vote next week. No excuses will be accepted if you don't.


This morning I watched the interview of Bill Starr, a descendant of confederacy soldiers, who believes that many confederacy soldiers were drafted and died in a fight to protect "  the most unjust institution in history for a bunch of rich slaveowners ". 

Bill Starr has much more to say and the interview by Story of America is certainly worth taking some time out of your day to watch.