early and often

So Sarah Palin Started a Political Action Committee. What Does That Mean?

This morning, Cindy Adams reported that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin started her own political action committee called SarahPAC. (She also “reported” that Palin wants to be president, but the former actually qualifies as “news.”) According to Adams, SarahPAC was registered in Virginia and “patterned after Hillary [Clinton’s] HillPAC. The website for the PAC is already active and has this to say for itself:

By supporting SarahPac, you will allow Gov. Palin to help find and create solutions for America’s most pressing problems; priority number one is building a strong and prosperous economy that recognizes hard work, innovation and integrity by rewarding small businesses and hard working American families. SarahPac will support local and national candidates who share Gov. Palin’s ideas and goals for our country.

A PAC isn’t meant to be a slush fund for favors and increased standing, but that’s usually what it turns out to be. If Palin is truly modeling SarahPAC after HillPAC, she’ll use it for a number of things. She’ll start by trying to gain favor among national politicians by donating to their reelection campaigns and pet causes. In her case, it will probably be Republicans that she’ll appeal to. Unlike Hillary, Palin doesn’t have a broad base of contacts, or anyone who is indebted to her (not even at home — the governor famously divorced herself from the corrupt local GOP establishment during her election). This is important for her since she’s really coming out of nowhere. Also, she’ll have less time than Hillary did; HillPAC was founded in 2001, the year she won her seat in the Senate. Hillary announced her run for president after five years of quiet Democratic lobbying with HillPAC. Palin will have, at best, two years of handshakes and donations (and without the bonus of being in Washington for work).

Another thing Palin won’t be able to do with SarahPAC is employ her old Washington cronies. In 2002 HillPAC was already under scrutiny for how much money it spent on legal fees and salaries for old Clinton White House employees. Since the only cronies Palin takes along with her are pals from Wasilla, don’t expect her to spend much political capital maintaining those alliances. But she can solidify her base of support in her home state, the way Hillary did by creating HillPAC-NY to fight for Democratic causes. And, as a bonus, unlike Hillary, the Republican Palin won’t have to spend so much energy targeting one particular testy group of allies: the superdelegates.

So basically, SarahPAC will be sort of like HillPAC and sort of not. What Sarah Palin really needs to watch out for, though, is whether it is more effective than HuckPAC.


So Sarah Palin Started a Political Action Committee. What Does That Mean?