John Avlon has been looking at the FEC filings for SarahPAC, Sarah Palin’s primary vehicle for pretending to still be politically relevant by throwing a little money — and I mean a little money — at mostly losing candidates (I’m looking at you, Christine O’Donnell). I’m sure you’ll be shocked to hear that those records contradict her empty rhetoric.
In total, Palin’s PAC spent $980,000 on campaign expenses, $1.3 million on administrative costs (including almost a million dollars on postage), and three-quarters of a million on fundraising. Hidden in all of this—amid the direct mail and the media buys—is consultants’ cut of every dollar spent.
These are the top-line costs of life in PAC era. But the devilish details in expense reports are what makes it really come alive. Palin’s chief PAC consultant, Tim Crawford, pocketed more than $321,000 this election cycle in direct payments alone, according to the documents. Aries Petra Consulting was taking in between $6,000 and $8,000 a month for speechwriting and “grassroots consulting”—something that sounds like an oxymoron, but ended up costing north of $160,000. C&M Transcontinental racked up $10,000 a month in management consulting, which is hard to imagine for a PAC whose job is simply to raise money and spend it on candidates. Inside SarahPAC, there were consultants for research and consultants for logistics and consultants for issues and on and on and on. It’s hard to find any area where consultants weren’t employed.
So when Palin thundered at CPAC that “Now is the time to furlough the consultants, and tune out the pollsters, send the focus groups home and throw out the political scripts, because if we truly know what we believe, we don’t need professionals to tell us”—it was a riff written by speechwriters and informed by all tools she tried to diss.
Follow the money in politics and you get a glimpse of the truth. Sarah Palin wants to be a defender of the middle class while chartering $27,000 private plane flights and burning through enough cash on consultants to feed a small village for a year or two. As much as advancing a political cause, SarahPAC seems to be a lifestyle play, propping up an expensive ideological entourage.
I’d say we’re about at minute 14.