It looks like the guiding principle behind Sarah Palin’s handling of her finances is: Look out for number one.
The former TV sportscaster has been raking in the bucks since stepping down as the Alaska governor. At the same time, her political action committee hasn’t exactly been spreading the wealth.
ABC News estimated this week that Palin has made $12 million since leaving office in July. Seven million of that reportedly came from her book deal with Rupert Murdoch’s Harper Collins, while she’ll get around $2 million from the Learning Channel for filming eight episodes of the reality show, Sarah from Alaska, according to The Daily Beast. Palin also has a multi-year contract with Fox News, a second book deal with Harper Collins, and a heavy schedule of lucrative speaking engagements, for which she typically charges a reported $100,000. Those have been delivered to a list of groups that includes the Bowling Proprietors Association of America, the Complete Woman Expo, the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, and the Sierra-Cascade Logging Conference.
At the same time, Palin’s PAC has focused far more on creating a coterie of well-paid advisers than on helping conservative candidates — and it has struggled to raise money in comparison to those of other potential 2012 GOP presidential contenders.
Sarah PAC raised $400,000 in the first quarter of 2010 — compared to the $1.5 million raised by former Mitt Romney’s PAC, and $556,000 brought in by Tim Pawlenty’s.
Meanwhile, FEC records first examined by National Journal show that Sarah PAC spent more than $233,000 on consultants — including Randy Scheunemann, the neo-conservative former John McCain aide and TPMmuckraker favorite who worked closely with Palin during the 2008 presidential campaign.
By contrast, Sarah PAC spent just $7,500 on contributions to candidates running for office during the first quarter of 2010, National Journal reports. That includes $2,500 to Sean Duffy, who is running a long-shot campaign against Rep. Dave Obey (D-WI), and $2000 to Rand Paul, the Tea Party favorite running for the Senate from Kentucky.
Sarah PAC declares on its website that it is “dedicated to building America’s future, supporting fresh ideas and candidates who share our vision for reform and innovation.”
Indeed, National Journal raises questions as to whether Palin has followed through on her promise to donate to political causes the $100,000 speaking fee she received from organizers of the National Tea Party Convention. She hasn’t given any money to any federal candidate this cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. And FEC records show she also hasn’t given anything to her own PAC.
It’s possible, of course, that Palin donated it to other political organizations, but she doesn’t seem eager to take credit for having done so. Her camp didn’t respond to National Journal’s request for comment, nor to ours.