Saturday, November 19, 2011

SarahPAC spent an incredible 95% – over $1.5 million – of all donations in first half of 2011 on operating expenses; the Feds need to investigate this outrageous farce

I'm still working out my thoughts concerning what actionable offenses Sarah Palin may have committed by perpetrating the birth hoax. I'll get back to that soon.
But, related to that, I wanted to get a sense of how financially responsible SarahPAC has been. And guess what: SarahPAC has been breathtakingly piggish in spending donors' contributions on its "operating expenses," a category that includes such costs as fundraising, promotion of the PAC's mission, and staff salaries. Here's how it looks graphically:
This is astonishing. The purpose of a political action committee, according to Wikipedia, is "to elect political candidates or to advance the outcome of a political issue or legislation." And how much did SarahPAC spend in that fashion? A nickel or less out of ever dollar. The "or less" qualifier has to do with how we count that 1 percent in the "other" category – more on that in a minute.

What are normal expenditures? The Southern Poverty Law Center took the Minutemen PAC to task in 2009 for its piggishness regarding operating expenses, saying:

But while the Minuteman PAC spent $1.7 million during the last election cycle (as of Nov. 24), less than 9 cents of every dollar went to help candidates — either directly through contributions or indirectly through advertisements and mailings supporting or opposing specific candidates. By contrast, nine similar PACs spent, on average, nearly four times as much —about 34 cents of every dollar — on contributions to federal campaigns and on materials calling for the election or defeat of particular candidates.

So PACs typically spend about third of their contributions on the purposes that justify their existence – advancing political candidates, causes and the like. (And even that strikes me a pretty paltry.) The Minutemen got spanked for spending about a quarter of that percentage. But SarahPAC takes the Minutemen to school, spending only about half as much as they did out of each dollar contributed.

So where is the fat in SarahPAC's spending? Well, some consultants are very pleased to serve Sarah. By my math, over a quarter of a million dollars – $260,718 – went to folks listed as consultants or to the closely related "scheduling" category. In fact, there were "logistics consultants" in addition to folks doing scheduling – how do those differ? 

As to the "other," category, SarahPAC gave $18,700 to the Young America's Foundation, and guess what? She gave a speech before that group in February. Did she speak for free? I doubt it. Does giving PAC money to people who are paying you to speak raise ethical issues? You betcha!

So given that Sarah perhaps found a way to put $18,700 of the PAC's money in her own pocket, I think we can fairly say only 4 percent of the donations went towards the intended purposes of the donors.

What should the U.S. Justice Department make of these startling numbers? I think they should initiate an investigation to make sure none of that $1.5 million made its way back to Sarah's pocket.

Sarah: I'll stop writing about you if you tell the the truth about Trig's birth. Otherwise, Pie Spy LLC, anyone?


  1. Did anyone other than the Southern Poverty Law Center go after the Minutemen? Who polices PACs?

    I think we've been told that SarahPAC has paid Bristol's PR firm; Chuck and Sally; and Trig's full-time caregivers. Who knows what else.

    Good sleuthing, Professor.

  2. Anything $Palin used specifically for herself is considered income, according to IRS.

  3. Considering how many candidates last election got away with pretty shady activity with their donors, I think the guidelines are pretty vague. I mean, Obama himself changed rules officially and he accepted what would have been illegal donations.

    I tried to read the requirements and got bored as hell. I do know her treasurer and he's a pretty decent man. I doubt there's illegal activity. Remember, someone said earlier this year that technically a PAC owner can use the funds for personal vacations etc.

  4. 557468643 : This is just one piece of a larger case I am trying to make. You'll see what I mean over the next week or so.

  5. I'm sure you know about Pie-Spy...

    Don't Forget about Bristol's Company, BSMP, LLC (Bristol Sheeran Marie Palin)

  6. 557468643 said...
    Considering how many candidates last election got away with pretty shady activity with their donors, I think the guidelines are pretty vague.

    Um, John Edwards has been indicted for "shady activity with their donors" – that's exactly what I want here

  7. I've felt for a long time that the Trig mystery, while fascinating and kind of disgusting, is unlikely to do any serious damage to Sarah. Her base has been whittled down by her own activity to a fairly small group of people who seem ineducable anyway; they're not going to change their minds. I've always felt that a really thorough investigation into her tax situation is far more likely to do some serious legal damage. After all, we do know that she is a tax cheat with regard to property taxes. Alaska is, apparently, too dumb to have a problem with a sitting governor cheating on taxes, so nothing happened to her with that- I agree it's only a few hundred dollars, but she must have absolutely no integrity or self-respect at all to cheat for such a paltry amount. She can rightfully be called a cheap crook.

    Income tax amounts to a lot more, and the feds can be awfully humorless about little slipups like failing to declare income.

    I don't know the laws regulating PAC donations, but we've heard a couple of times that Sarah doesn't realize that money donated to a PAC isn't just hers to spend as she likes. All those consulting fees? I suspect money laundering. That ridiculous house in Arizona? Bristol's condo in Anchorage and her house in Arizona? That takes a lot of money, and even casual thought about Sarah's financial picture leads one to suspect fraud.

    Please, oh please, let us someday see a perp walk!

    Incidentally, the care of Trig must come to a lot of money. If the family is not, in fact, providing direct care (and I think it's likely that Trig will wind up in a residential institution if he's not there already) they are spending a fortune on care and on top of that will be actual medical care and therapy, for years to come. It may be that adopting, or fostering, or just co-opting Trig has led to major expenses which have encouraged financial irregularities which may lead to her downfall- wouldn't that be gratifying?

  8. @Brad. "557468643" posts at Allison's and sounds like trolls at Laura's and elsewhere. Most comments boil down to: "Obama and everyone not a Palin lie and suck." Don't let String of Numbers waste your time.

  9. p.s. - and s/he is probably paid by SarahPac so your post hits home.

  10. Ivy: I have reason to believe the Feds have taken an interest in this case. But I cannot say anything more than that.

  11. Professor, if the Feds have, indeed, taken an interest in this- and I don't doubt you- then that is immensely gratifying. I have no pride. I'll take her being knocked off her perch by anything that works. I just wanna see a perp walk! And I want to see her tried by federal, not state, judges. Because she's still got her hand in Alaska.

    And THEN I'll pop that champagne.

  12. I'm sure there is plenty to find as far as tax fraud goes. Remember how Palin leased a car as Mayor and charged it to the city. She was responsible for paying taxes on that car. However, when she was told the same thing as Governor, she gave the car back right away despite the taxes being such a very small amount of money for the use of a decent car. So did she ever pay taxes on the car while she was Mayor? Not a chance. She didn't pay taxes on the upgrades on her cabins despite being Governor with the excuse that the county never asked about them! A decent person reports the upgrades, especially a sitting Governor, when the property is in an isolated area not subject to the observation of the local govt on a regular basis. Does Sarah Palin have a problem with taxes if they should start looking? I'll bet she does!

  13. Part of the vetting process the other VP hopefuls went through included tax returns. Once again, Sarah slipped by on the outside. The Palin 2007 Federal income taxes were files early in September 2008.

    Allison at The Palin Place Blogspot

  14. From the book Sarah from Alaska by Conroy and Walshe:
    Unlike most politicians' PACs, SarahPAC was not initially designed to support other candidates who might one day be called on to return the favor. Instead,it was mainly intended to raise money for Palin's own travel, primarily to the lower 48. (pg 212)

    Also from S from A:

    Greta van Susteren's husband, former Hillary Clinton supporter John Coale, had advised Palinon setting up SarahPAC and continue to play a prominent role in running it. (pg 229)

    It's a snake pit. It's the opposite of campaign finance reform. Mc Cain opened Pandoras box.

  15. Great stuff, Allison! The PAC brought in so much money that they had to come up with creative ways to get rid of it.

  16. Allison, thanks for the reminders from "Sarah from Alaska". I had borrowed that from the library and forgotten about the PAC info. It would be just like Sarah to set up a PAC mainly to fund her travel to the lower 48 yet when called upon to help candidates residing there, she charges them for her travel to and from as in Karen Handel from GA. Her campaign spent a great deal of money on fundraising alone despite the 'bots declaration that she NEVER asks for money from anyone. Is there anyone sane left in that bunch or have they all gone off the deep end?