Much is being made on the interwebs about this Vanity Fair piece on Sarah Palin. To me the most damaging revelation is the fleecing of the masses that is the Sarah Palin Grift-PAC. The “benefits” that are really just Sarah Palin speaking engagements, and the phony “charities” that her proceeds supposedly support, appear for all intents and purposes to be nothing more than shells. Indeed, the biggest charity benefitting from all of this is the grifter Sarah Palin herself:
PAL-PAC seems to have been created for a single purpose: to pay Sarah Palin to give a speech. PAL-PAC announced the Palin event at the same time that it announced its own formation. After the Palin event was over, most of the information on PAL-PAC’s Web site disappeared. In effect, PAL-PAC was a disposable entertainment company, set up to put on a one-day show that collected the contact information of thousands of people who came to see Palin in the flesh, and to give her their money. The organization has not been mentioned again anywhere online or in local newspapers. The group’s financial statements are curious. PAL-PAC was registered in Missouri last November; as of April 15, 2010, when it made its second quarterly disclosure report to the Missouri Ethics Commission, two weeks before Palin arrived in Independence, PAL-PAC had only $3,202 in the bank. This was not nearly enough money to reserve the venue, much less cover security, printing, advertising, or any of the other expenses associated with throwing an event for 4,000 people. PAL-PAC’s third disclosure report, filed on July 14, reveals large payments to Wayne Graves, a Kansas City physician, whose wife, Karladine, also a doctor, is the president of PAL-PAC. Wayne Graves performed a key service for Winning America Back: he personally paid the speakers’ fees and travel expenses. On June 23, according to the report, he was reimbursed for these outlays: $15,134.83 for “Reimburse Speak[er],” and $126,000, also for “Reimburse Speak[er].” By fronting the money for these expenses, Graves made it possible for PAL-PAC to keep details such as Palin’s precise fee under wraps. But the lion’s share of that $126,000, it seems safe to assume, went to Palin—that would tally with verified reports of what Palin has been paid elsewhere.
Other stops on Palin’s road show raise questions similar to those surrounding Winning America Back. Palin spoke to a group in Dallas that claimed to be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group but is not registered as one. That event was advertised as a fund-raiser for the Uptown Women’s Center, whose eponymous U.R.L. redirected visitors to a Web site selling tickets for the event, palin4life.com, which has since disappeared. In June, Palin was scheduled to go to Charlotte, North Carolina, for two events, a $300-per-ticket “Evening with Sarah Palin” and the free “Complete Woman Expo 2010.” Both were sponsored by a newly formed organization, the Blue Ridge Educational Resource Group. Like PAL-PAC, the Blue Ridge group had sprung up from nowhere, and also like PAL-PAC, it somehow landed one of the country’s most-sought-after female speakers to headline its very first event. Local officials eventually expressed skepticism that Blue Ridge was competent to manage the logistics for an expected crowd of 30,000, and at the last minute both events were canceled. The Blue Ridge group’s Web site, like PAL-PAC’s, was reduced to a shell.
This seems like a lot of trouble to go through for no discernible reason. Certainly there was much grumbling and negative press over perceived fleecing of patriots at Nashville’s Tea Party Convention last February. And Palin’s appearance at that event sparked lawsuits over her $100,000 speaking fee. Maybe she’s trying to preserve her image as a legitimate candidate, not a celebrity speaker who justifies $100,000 a gig? Seems to me Sarah Palin’s fans wouldn’t care one way or the other. As with any cult–and mark my words, Sarah Palin is as much a cult leader as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh–adherents won’t begrudge their leader her golden Rolls Royce.
Back in February, Palin claimed she would donate her $100,000 Nashville speaking fee to charity. But I don’t recall ever hearing which charity received the largesse, or even if anyone in the media tried to find that out. It seems to me our media, instead of repeating Palin’s latest ghost-written Tweet or Facebook post, should instead spend a little time looking into the shell PACs and charities behind her various public appearances. How about doing a little more legwork, guys?
Kind of reminds me of another storied “lady of the people” … but then, when the money keeps rolling in you don’t ask how.