Our political Quote of the Day comes from The Daily Beast’s John Avlon (who is increasingly doing more solid, investigative reporting) who comes up numbers to indicate that anti-consultant Sarah Palin is a virtual Santa Claus to consultants, who get big bucks from here (so I guess consultants aren’t that awful after all):

Sarah Palin attempted to relaunch her political career and her political action committee, SarahPAC, on Thursday with a Web video called “Loaded for Bear,” which presented the former Alaska governor as the new kingmaker for conservative populists in the GOP.

The video riffed off her speech at CPAC, in which Palin railed against “the big consultants, the big money men, and the big bad media.” But there’s an irony alert ahead: the current stated purpose of SarahPAC is to raise money ahead of the 2014 election—most of which will be spent on conservative consultants.

Don’t believe me? Well, this is a perfect time to page through SarahPAC’s Federal Election Commission filings, which—helpfully enough—were just released yesterday.

Seen through the lens of the invaluable Center for Responsive Politics, Palin’s PAC spent $5.1 million in the last election cycle (more than it raised in that time period, raising some questions about Palin’s claims of fiscal responsibility).

But the real news comes when you look at how donors’ money was actually doled out: just $298,500 to candidates. The bulk of the rest of it, more than $4.8 million, went to—you guessed it—consultants.

That’s some seriously hypocritical overhead.

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,

He finishes with this:

I feel bad for all the Palin true believers who forked over their hard-won cash only to now find that the vast majority of it went into consultants’ coffers. It’s a reminder of Eric Hoffer’s immortal line that “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”

But it’s really only fair to let Sarah Palin have the last word, aiming unintentionally at herself: “If these experts keep losing elections, keep raking in millions, if they feel that strongly about who should run in this party, they should buck up and run or stay in the truck.”

Indeed, Palin somehow always DOES manage to get the last word.

It may not be an accurate word.

It may not be a completely candid word (read Avlon above).

But she gets the last word.

Which is enough for her supporters.

But not enough for much of the rest of America.

(Read reviews of Avlon’s latest two books HERE and HERE.)

JOE GANDELMAN, Editor-In-Chief
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Copyright 2013 The Moderate Voice
  • slamfu

    Serious female players in the GOP: Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann.

    Serious female players in Democrat circles: Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren.

    Compare and contrast.

    P.S. – I’m biased, I know.

  • 123blackwater

    Quoting John Avalon, a left wing loon and a liar. You should be sued for using the word “moderate” on this blog! It’s 100% false advertising!

    It’s obvious you are as clueless as they come, and have NO IDEA how a PAC works. It also speaks to what a loser you are that you don’t mention Avalon’s far left hate group “No Labels” doesn’t have to disclose it’s donors or itemize their expenditures as Palin does. Nor do you, or Avalon disclose that PACs are limited, by law to only giving $5K per candidate, per election. Nor do you mention that under the law EVERYONE who does anything for a PAC is considered a “consultant” including, in this case, the full-time treasurer, Tim Crawford

    It’s also curious that neither you or Avalon call out Marco Rubio, who’s PAC IS out of control, or Karl Rove who ripped his backers off for $300 MILLION, and produced ZERO results in 2012. At least Palin had a 75% success rate in 2012!

    Here’s some actual facts, since this blog wouldn’t know a fact if it reached up and bit it!


  • Mister Blackwater: while there may be two generalized “sides” to any political question, there are not two sets of facts.

    Calling people names does not change that.

  • SteveK

    Good catch Joe… Good point / examples slamfu… And, thanks for your appropriate response to 123blackwater’s hit-and-run Hart.

    I hope his post is allowed to stay thought because it’s a perfect example of how not to try to sell a POV.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    Well done, well said, well documented, well rebutted Joe, Slamfu, Hart and Steve K. — not necessarily in that order.

  • zusa1

    I see several comments objecting to the “tone” of Mr. Blackwater’s post, but I don’t see any response to the substance.

    “PACs are limited, by law to only giving $5K per candidate, per election. Nor do you mention that under the law EVERYONE who does anything for a PAC is considered a “consultant” including, in this case, the full-time treasurer, Tim Crawford”

    “Consultants design websites, store data and lists, arrange the travel, vet the candidates, write the talking points, run crisis communications, and well, everything else. There are seldom “employees” on campaigns. Politics is always changing — campaigns are non-permanent institutions funded by limited donor contributions. Worker bees, hired as 1099 contractors? We’re all “consultants” in the broadest definition of the term.

    What Palin is going after is specific elite category of the consultant class: Those who reap millions of dollars for controlling votes, for building candidates, for brokering bad deals, for finding awful consensus instead of fighting for victory.”

    Avlon’s article is misleading at best. I don’t see how this can be considered solid investigative reporting.