Why Sarah Palin's PAC Is Losing Money

Matt Berman

Sarah Palin's political action committeesimply named Sarah PACtook in $460,537.83 so far this year, according to new filings with the Federal Election Commission. That sounds like a pretty big number! But when you look at how much the PAC has been spending, how it has been spending it, and the way things used to be, the picture looks far bleaker.

First, the spending picture: In the first six months of 2013, Sarah PAC spent $496,505.68. That's $35,967.85 more than the PAC was able to raise. To be clear, Sarah PAC isn't in debt: In the latest filing, the PAC reports having $1,113,971.25 on hand. 

It's easy to see that things aren't great, however. According to the Center for Public Integrity, Sarah PAC's most recent haul compares very badly to what it took in over the last two years. By this time in 2012, Sarah PAC had raised $1.2 million. That wasn't just an election year fluke; by the end of June 2011, the PAC had raised $1.7 million.

The way Sarah PAC is spending its money may be a bit more concerning. According to the FEC filing, the PAC spent just $5,000 in contributions to political candidates. That money went to Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., who won a special election this June. The rest? It went to expenses and consultant fees. That includes $7,500 apiece to Grey Strategies and NorthStar Strategies, and $15,640 to Advanced Response Systems. Oh, and at least $11,5000 a month went to just one consultant.

That consultant is Timothy Crawford, a chief Palin adviser who received more than $321,000 during the last election cycle alone. Crawford has been described as a treasurer of the PAC, in addition to being a PAC spokesman. During that same cycle, of the $5.1 million the PAC spent, more than $4.8 million went to consultants, according to a Daily Beast analysis.

What the state of Sarah PAC means for Sarah herself isn't totally clear. A new PPP poll out this week shows that Palin, while trailing Alaska's Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, is the GOP's top choice for the seat. It still seems pretty unlikely that Palin would actually run in 2014, but, since rocketing onto the political scene seemingly out of nowhere in 2008, she has had a knack for doing the unexpected.