To hear Sarah Palin tell it, she and her mama grizzlies are people-powered, grassroots examples of how Americans can get involved in politics. But a close look at SarahPAC’s campaign finance report shows she spends her donations on the same old, standard consultants as every other politician. And like many others, she still finds ways to keep her inner circle in the money.
She pulled in just shy of $866,000 in donations from people hailing from Kissimmee, Florida to Rancho Palos Verdes, California. But Marylander Laurie Beitman’s $35 and the bulk of Palin’s small-dollar donations is going to more than Republican candidates the former Alaska governor wants to see win this fall. By our count, Palin spent nearly $400,000 on consultants, lobbying firms and the standard direct mail and fundraising firms politicians frequently use. (The AP had a stricter consulting tally, $210,000.) Just about the only maverick-style item she purchased was $4,000 worth of sausage.
Palin spent $30,000 on “consulting, national and international issues” with Randy Scheunemann’s Orion Strategies, a lobbying firm representing foreign governments.
Then there’s Rebecca Mansour’s Aries Petra Consulting, which Palin paid $22,000 for “internet messaging” to write those infamous Palin Facebook messages. Politico describes Mansour as a “Los Angeles screenwriter and political neophyte whose creation of the popular cheerleading blog Conservatives4Palin endeared her to Palin’s inner circle.”
She paid NorthStar Strategies, the firm owned by her campaign body man and former Bush administration alum Jason Recher $36,000 for “logistics [and] political consulting.”
Former press aide Meg Stapleton’s IzzyLene Consulting received $2,500 for media consulting.
Palin paid $35,000 to Grey Strategies, a Columbus firm that helped her with media, logistics and political consulting. It appears to now be a newly merged firm called Grey Shockley, run by lobbyists Doug McMarlin and Leslie Beyer. According to Hotline on Call, McMarlin also travels with Palin.
True North L’Attitudes, a consulting firm created in February by an Anchorage woman named Robyn Engibous, got more than $10,000 for scheduling. Engibous, a former staffer for Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), also got almost $1,400 in reimbursements for office supplies and mileage.
Palin has made much of her personal wealth in speaking fees, which reportedly run up to $100,000 per speech. For speechwriting services this past quarter, her PAC paid $3,700 to Lindsay Hayes. Hayes wrote speeches for Palin during the presidential campaign; she also was a speechwriter for Sen. Stevens for several years.
SarahPAC gave another $5,000 for “clerical” work to Ivy Frye, a close confidant of Palin’s who has been with her since her campaign for governor and who Palin hired as an aide in the governor’s office. In addition to the $5,000, SarahPAC gave Frye almost $1,500 to reimburse her for postage and copies. In the first quarter of 2010, she paid Frye $15,000 for clerical work and more than $3,000 in reimbursement for printing and shipping costs.
The PAC also pays a $10,000 monthly legal retainer, totaling $30,000 for the quarter, to the Palin family lawyer, Thomas Van Flein. Van Flein was Palin’s personal lawyer while she was governor, defending her against ethics complaints. He also represented Palin’s daughter, Bristol Palin, when she tried to get child support from Levi Johnston earlier this year.
Check out our past coverage of Palin’s “brain trust” of advisers here.