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Malia Litman Headshot

Can You Smell What Palin Is Shoveling Now?

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For over one year we have been inundated with news concerning Sarah Palin. We have been given many examples of the hypocrisy of Palin's rhetoric, from telling us that she said "thanks, but no thanks" to the Bridge to Nowhere, when she originally supported it, to her statement that she was not in favor of earmarks, when she not only accepted millions of dollars in earmarks for Alaska. She was even found to have behaved unethically by an Alaskan bipartisan committee, yet she wanted to tell the media that she had been completely exonerated. In spite of all of this, people love her appearance and the "folksy" charm she exudes while giving a speech to anyone who might listen and as a result, Americans across the country have donated thousands to Palin's Political Action Committee (PAC), via a website to help her efforts to raise money, purportedly for the purpose of supporting candidates for office with goals similar to Sarah's. After reviewing the files of SarahPAC, it is clear Palin has once again been less than truthful.

The very purpose of a PAC is to raise and spend money to elect candidates. A PAC is permitted to give up to $5000 to a candidate, and may receive up to $5000 from any one individual per calendar year. PAC's like the SarahPAC are governed by the Federal Election Commission. Pursuant to those laws PAC's are required to file certain disclosures. On April 13, 2010, Timothy Crawford, Treasurer for SarahPAC filed certain disclosures regarding SarahPAC, that pertain to the first quarter of 2010. These filings are proof of the willingness of Ms. Palin to possibly use and abuse donors to her PAC. Consider the following:

1. As of Jan. 1, 2010 the Sarah PAC had cash on hand of over $900,000.00.

2. Receipts (meaning contributions from Sarah's supporters) totaled over $400,000 for the first quarter of the year.

3. Disbursements (meaning amounts paid out by the PAC) for the first quarter exceeded the donations by $9000.00, indicating total of expenses of $409,760.06.

4. The donations to SarahPAC came from 174 donors, which included 25 unemployed contributors and 57 retired individuals. Thus, almost half of the donors were people who were unemployed.

5. Over $200,000 of the expenditures of the PAC for the first quarter of the year were used for some type of "consulting" services.

6. Mr. Van Flein, the attorney Bristol has relied upon for her child custody case; appears to be received $10,000 per month as some form of compensation from the PAC, probably a retainer.

7. Ivy Frye, the woman who worked for Sarah Palin before she resigned as Governor, and who appeared on some e-mails of Palin's, now receives compensation from the PAC, to the tune of $5000.00 per month, for clerical work. What is not clear is how much is paid for clerical work, and how much she might be paid for keeping secrets. Interviews have shown that while Ms. Palin was the Governor she ran an administration that put a premium on loyalty and secrecy.

8. The PAC has spent over $15,000 on hotel rooms in just the first quarter of the year. At this rate the PAC would spend $60,000 in one year, just on hotel rooms. Why would there be a need for such a large expense to the PAC, unless they are paying for hotel rooms when Sarah travels to give speeches, for which she receives, personally, hundreds of thousands of dollars?

9. The PAC has only made contributions to a total of seven candidates, with total contributions of $9500. Most contributions have been only $1000. Thus, so far this year, Sarah's PAC has contributed about 1% of its net worth to political candidates. If the PAC continues on this path for the remainder of the year, it would contribute less than $40,000 to political candidates, which would be less than the PAC, will likely spend on hotels for the year.

10. There is the question of de-icing Sarah's private jet in Ft. Lauderdale. According to the records filed with the FEC, the PAC paid for de-icing of Sarah's plane on March 23, 2010, two times at a cost to the PAC of $7321.65, each time. The explanation offered is that this was a double charge, and thus we shouldn't be concerned that Sarah's PAC overpaid for "de-icing" by $7000.

I am not a pilot, but logical questions arise. a) If you are paying Ivy $5000.00 per month for clerical work, shouldn't she have caught this error and refused to pay the second charge? b) The temperatures in Ft. Lauderdale on March 23, 2010 ranged from a high of 77.7 degrees to a low of 57.9 degrees. If the low temperature for the day or night was only 58, why would they need to de-ice the plane even once? If Ms. Palin had taken a commercial flight, I bet a first class seat wouldn't have cost as much as de-icing of the private plane, much less the cost of a private plane itself. c) Why is the PAC paying for any expense relating to de-icing a plane in Ft. Lauderdale? There is no charge to the PAC for the private jet, and it would be rather astonishing if Sarah paid for the private plane herself. It seems there should either be a charge to the PAC for the private plane flight to Ft. Lauderdale and the deicing, or there should be no charge at all. Moreover, if Sarah Palin does not contribute any of her speaking fees to her PAC, which she did not, why would the PAC have any responsibility for the expenses associated with her trip to Ft. Lauderdale?

11. Finally, it is curious that of all 174 donors live in multiple states around the country, but not one donor lives in Alaska. It seems where they know her best is the place where she has the least support.

Although the SarahPAC website is very limited, a couple of quotes stand out:

"SarahPAC believes the Republican Party is at the threshold of an historic renaissance that will build a better future for all. ... Join us today...We are going to work as common sense conservatives ...helping candidates who will stand up for our nation. We'll help candidates ..."

Certainly Sarah has not helped any candidates with any significant contributions in 2010. She is even distancing herself from the Republican Party, but her PAC still suggests that she supports the RNC. Just days after the RNC admitted to spending donors' cash at an erotic Los Angeles club, Sarah asked the RNC to take her name off the list of invites to a New Orleans fund raiser, even though she would be in town. The RNC embarrassed itself again when a fund-raising letter inadvertently led potential donors to a phone-sex line promising "hot, horny girls."

"Tony Perkins, head of the conservative Family Research Council and a GOP stalwart, urged donors to redirect their cash.

"I've hinted at this before, but now I am saying it - don't give money to the RNC,"

It all stinks. The worst potential abuse is the misuse of funds of SarahPAC, and money donated by unemployed supporters. Those donors give her what little money they have, thinking that they are being patriotic. I guess they don't realize that Sarah has made $12,000,000 since resigning her position as Governor and she hasn't donated a penny of that money to the PAC.

I wish someone would explain to me why the PAC is paying for any expenses for de-icing a plane that was not transporting Sarah on PAC business? Having spoken with Christian Hilland, a spokesperson with the Federal Election Commission, I understand that the FEC can't hold politicians accountable for use of PAC monies for personal use. For example, the RNC was not found to be in violation of existing laws for using RNC monies to purchase $150,000 worth of clothes, makeup, and hairstyling for Sarah and family during the 2008 campaign. Not until Congress enacts legislation to prevent this type of abuse will people like Sarah Palin be held accountable for the misuse of the hard earned dollars her supporters donate to her. "Sarah Barracuda" has dominated the national spotlight for over one year. Fish often begin to smell after they have been around too long. I am not a tax attorney and I have never worked for the IRS, but my common sense conservatism is telling me something stinks.