WASHINGTON -- The political action committee of former Alaska Governor and Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin raised $1.6 million over the first six months of 2011, according to a report filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), showing a continuation of the strong fundraising her operation demonstrated in 2010.
SarahPAC entered the year with over $1.3 million cash on hand and finished the first half of the year with about the same amount after spending $1.59 million over the same period. Much of that money went to pay for consultants: $322,418. Raising money and building lists through direct mail totaled $310,976. The other top costs for the campaign included $260,534 for postage -- which likely included much of the direct mail pieces sent to Palin supporters -- and $172,217 to cover travel expenses.
One of those travel costs was the nearly $14,000 expense for the colorful wrapping covering her One Nation tour bus. That's probably a low estimate for the amount the bus wrap cost in total as the report features another expense of $26,000 made during the bus tour listed as "Air Fare, Lodging, Car Rental, Wireless, Bus Wrap."
Palin also used her PAC to donate $65,000 to thirteen Republican members of Congress: Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Reps. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), Larry Buschon (R-Ind.), Ann Marie Buerkle (R-N.Y.), Martha Roby (R-Ala.), Lou Barletta (R-Penn.), Allen West (R-Fla.), Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), Francisco Canseco (R-Texas), Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.). Each received the maximum $5,000 contribution.
Another contribution of $18,700 was made to the Young America's Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to engaging young conservatives on college campuses across the country.
The PAC Palin operates is known as a leadership political action committee, a common fundraising tool for members of Congress to curry favor in Washington. They are also frequently used for either aspiring presidential candidates to form a campaign-like structure before announcing a run, or for political figures to maintain their influence. Last year, SarahPAC raised over $3.5 million, sparking rumors that the political celebrity could be looking at a presidential run in 2012.
Palin has not jumped into the 2012 Republican primary fray yet, although she has indicated that she has "fire in the belly."
The majority of the contributions to Palin's committee came in small donor amounts under the $250 limit that would require reporting. Only $369,406 of the $1.6 million came in amounts over the $250 reporting threshold. Of these donors, the most commonly reported occupations were self-employed and retired, along with individuals who listed none or failed to report an occupation.