Friday, 16 April 2010

SarahPAC: Detailed Financial Analysis of the First Quarter 2010

Guest post by mxm

Note: You can find all reports which were filed by SarahPAC with the FEC HERE.


Sarah PAC released its 2010 first quarter FEC disclosure on April 13. According to the summary, Sarah PAC had incoming receipts in the amount of $400,482 and outgoing disbursements of $409,760. Sarah PAC started the quarter with $928,436 cash on hand.

Data from these FEC reports has been transcribed, categorized and calculated. Summary tables follow. This exercise did not result in the same sums for incoming cash and outgoing disbursements, but the numbers are pretty close. Perhaps there are transcription errors in my work or some other explanation. Since we are looking for trends, patterns can be found in both the receipts and expenses despite the discrepancies.


From Schedule A, Itemized Receipts, the following information was obtained or calculated.

SarahPAC  - cash in - total 2010 Q1

The memo amounts were obtained from transcribing receipts and performing calculations. Non-Memo amounts were derived from what was reported in the FEC filing as Total Donation Amount (Non-Memo) = $194,062, this was apportioned evenly across each month. The adjustment line has been included to reach the claimed incoming cash totals.


From Schedule B, Itemized Disbursements

SarahPAC  - total disbursements - 2010 1Q

No adjustment is made to disbursements; the figures have been checked multiple times against what has been included in Schedule B.

SarahPAC  - cash flow 2009 + 2010 1Q

SarahPAC  - overview consultants - 2010 1Q - part 1
SarahPAC  - overview consultants - 2010 1Q - part 2


Internet Fund Raising

SarahPAC - Internet Fund raising 2009 + 2010 1Q

Direct Mail
SarahPAC - direct mail 2010 1Q

Supplies, Postage, Telephone, Miscellaneous Expenses

SarahPAC - supplies 2009 + 2010 1Q

Book Tour

SarahPAC - expenses book tour - 2009 + 2010 1Q


I am restating some conclusions from the earlier post, as they do not change with the additional quarter’s worth of data.

During 2009, there were spikes in the donation levels. It would seem that there was start up excitement that quickly tapered down. A spike is seen mid to late June through July. This corresponds initially with the webathon sponsored by the devoted. While the webathon was setup for the AFT, contributions to the PAC played heavily in the discussion on pro-Palin sites.

More consequently, the sudden decision Palin made to quit her position as AK governor likely created an atmosphere in which individuals made donations in sympathetic support. Donations returned to pre-resignation levels and declined until December. Some of the November decline is likely due to vendor change and conversely, some of the December gain may be the result of this same change. It seems most likely that a good part of the December spike is an artifact of the Going Rogue book tour. The sale of autographed books for $100 could have netted the PAC $500,000. The book tour impact for the PAC seems to have been limited to December, a flash in the pan so to speak.

In reviewing the incoming cash, the early February Nashville Tea Party event does seem to have created quite a bit of incoming donations, including lots of $5000 contributions from folks in Tennessee.

It has been widely reported, that it was estimated that Sarah Palin earned $12,000,000 in 9 months. Unfortunately for Sarah, these reports also coincided on the same day her first quarter PAC report for 2010 was released. The publicity generated by Sarah’s paid appearances may have had an impact on her ability to generate donations to SarahPac. She certainly is visible and loud, so it would appear unlikely that anyone has forgotten about her.

Small donations accounted for almost 48% or her total incoming cash. She received 2 donations from political committees – Jim Tracy State Senate Account, Tennessee and Faulk for Senate Committee in Tennessee. Sarah PAC donated to 6 PACs or political platforms, for a total amount of $9500, this was 2% of her incoming cash.

Sarah PAC continues to burn through an impressive amount of cash on consultants and lawyers. It would seem that she has added even more folks to the payroll. Since she is really not looking, sounding or acting more polished, informed or inspiring, just exactly what are these people doing for her. She burned through cash at a rate of $143,000 per month this past quarter with only an average incoming replenishment cash flow of $133,000 per month. Good thing she has almost $930,000 in reserve, she may need it.

It seems that Sarah was unable to create a spark this quarter to spike the cash income. As nothing has changed I expect that donations to the Pac will continue to slowly decline. Despite Sarah’s continuing presence in the media and at speaking events, her popularity is steadily being eroded. Perhaps, as her ratings fall further, we may soon see her on late night infomercials as she has some trinkets and Alaska jerky to dispose of.


I am including this list again for easy reference.

There are the dates and events to keep in mind when considering the impact on Sarah PAC’s cash flow. Some are events that may have provoked contributions or necessitated disbursements. Many are just of interest and paint a picture.

Jan 28 Sarah PAC launched
Jan 29 Sarah goes to Washington, Alfalfa Dinner
Feb 16 Bristol Palin does Greta, Sarah interrupts
Apr 22 Alaska Fund Trust launched
Apr 27 AFT ethics complaint filed
May 12 Going Rogue book contract signed
Jun 22 Webathon for the AFT, and by the way, don’t forget Sarah PAC also, too
Jul 3 The Big Quit
Jul 13 Sarah PAC files mid-year report
Jul 14 Preliminary report on the AFT ethics complaint completed
Jul 14 Land purchased adjacent to current home
Jul 22 Kristan Cole freezes the AFT following ethics complaint preliminary findings
Jul 26 Last picnic on the job for Governor Palin
Sep 2 Levi Johnston does Vanity Fair, interview released online
Sep 15 Palin signs with Washington Speakers Bureau

Sep 23 Hong Kong speech
Oct 13 Construction underway on expanded home complex
Oct 23 Palin files final APOC disclosure, claims $1,250,000 retainer
Nov 4 Bristol Palin files for sole custody of Tripp
Nov 14 NYT reports $5,000,000 advance payment for Going Rogue
Nov 16 Sarah does Oprah
Nov 17 Book Released
Nov 18 Book Tour, first stop in Grand Rapids, MI
Dec 13 Teens break into Wasilla home, party and commit vandalism
Dec 16 Palin goes to Hawaii
Dec 22 Book tour, final stop in Wasilla, AK
Dec 27 News leaks that Bristol Palin filed for sole custody and child support
Jan 11 Palin joins Fox News
Jan 22 Palin and Bristol do Oprah from the kitchen
Jan 30 Sarah PAC files year-end report
Jan 31 Palingates identifies Facebook ghostwriters RAM and Russo
Feb 4-6 Palin does The National Tea Party Convention in Nashville
Feb 24 Meg Stapleton quits
Mar 4 Harper Collins announces Palin will write a new book
Mar 5 Palin and entourage hit Los Angeles, swag abounds
Mar 23 Palin published Facebook target list of democrats in the cross-hairs
Mar 25 Palin signs with Discovery Channel
Mar 27 Palin speaks in Searchlight, NV
Apr 1 Fox special, Real American Stories airs
Apr 6 Palingates identifies Mandell and Lafferty links to Sarah PAC, NOW scheming
Apr 7 Palin travels alone
Apr 9 Palin speaks at Southern Republican Leadership Conference
Apr 10 Palingates clarifies and elaborates on Mandell/Lafferty links to Sarah PAC


Addition by Patrick:

Many, many thanks again to our great guest poster mxm for another excellent detailed SarahPAC analysis!

A few observations:

a) Sarah still relies on pretty much the same consultants as she did in 2009. The number of consultants once again seems excessive. Another $ 30,000 went in the first quarter of 2010 to "Orion Strategies" which is headed by top-neocon Randy Scheunemann. He was one of the top-lobbyists for the Iraq war and has the blood of thousands of dead and wounded US soldiers and Iraqi civilians on his hands. This terrible choice alone should disqualify Palin for any political office (see more info HERE).

b) Sarah's expenditure seems to be "over-the-top" from my point of view also because the salaries appear to be extraordinary high. For example: $ 5,000 per month to Ivy Frye for "clerical" work? That's half of the monthly salary that the Governor of Alaska receives. ;-)

c) Rebecca Mansour and Joseph Russo, the founders of Creeps4Palin and undercover facebook writers, are still on Sarah's payroll. $ 8,000 for Joseph Russo in the first quarter of 2010 and...OMG...$ 18,000 for Rebecca Mansour! But somehow I cannot be angry that RAM still works for Palin. I feel for RAM, although she is the master of sophisticated abuse. After all, who would want to be in her place and have the crazy whore of babble-on as an employer?

d) But now comes the biggest joke of all: Thomas Van Flein. What the heck did he receive $ 20,000 for in the first quarter of 2010? I smell major BS. Is this guy the most expensive lawyer in the United States of America? Does he charge $ 500 just for picking up the phone? Or does SarahPAC "compensate" for the apparently "frozen" Alaska Fund Trust? Just asking. After all, Van Flein already received the highly suspicious amount of $ 65,000 in 2009 - and now he again received $ 20,000 during the first three months. What for, I ask?

EDIT: I would like to quote an excellent comment by our reader lisantx, who confirmed my suspicions about the payments to Van Flein when she wrote:

I've been looking for the law on disbursements--what the PAC can spend its money on--and found this:

§ 439a. Use of contributed amounts for certain purposes

(b) Prohibited use

(1) In general

A contribution or donation described in subsection (a) of this section shall not be converted by any person to personal use.

(2) Conversion

For the purposes of paragraph (1), a contribution or donation shall be considered to be converted to personal use if the contribution or amount is used to fulfill any commitment, obligation, or expense of a person that would exist irrespective of the candidate's election campaign or individual's duties as a holder of Federal office....

It seems to me that the amounts paid to Van Flein might have been converted for sarah's personal use--that is, to pay for her bills incurred earlier, or to pay for Bristol's legal bills. There is NO way the PAC itself has incurred that amount of legal fees to an Alaskan attorney who doesn't even practice law advising PACs. Very suspicious.... I'm sure there are other expenses that have been converted to personal use--like what all services does Ivy Frye provide? 5K services TO THE PAC per month? I bet she provides personal services to Sarah--not related to PAC business.

(end of comment by lisantx)

I would like to add that Thomas Van Flein also played no apparent role in setting up SarahPAC - because the legal advice was famously given by Greta Van Susteren's husband John Coale. The couple are high profile members of Scientology - see this detailed report. According to this article in the St. Petersburg Times which was published in 1998, the couple donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Scientology - and when the article was written, the mother of Scientology boss David Miscavige worked as an accountant in John Coale's law firm. (h/t Mrs TBB)

Gawker then obtained in March 2009 a secret internal Scientology memo with a detailed plan for setting up political action committees which was written in 1986. The autor: John Coale.

Excerpts from John Coale's memo:

Page 1:
John Coale - Scientology Memo page 1 small
Page 6:
John Coale - Scientology Memo page 6 - small

Another savvy reader has compiled a searchable list of all the donors for SarahPAC in the first quarter of 2010! The list can be downloaded as an excel-sheet HERE.

Let's have a look at a part of this list - these are the biggest donors for SarahPAC in this first quarter:

SarahPAC - biggest donors 2010 Q1
SarahPAC - biggest donors 2010 Q1 - part 2

We haven't examined this list in detail as yet, but Douglas Howard, Senior VP at Disney Music in Tennessee who donated $ 5,000 caught my eye. It turns out that he is a major Republican donor. So why not also donate to the screechy witch of Wasilla? Fools and their money are soon parted.

However, I DO know that not everybody in the music industry is happy with Sarah Palin! I will be telling you more about that soon.



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