Remember how former Alaska governor Sarah Palin was going to use her political celebrity to build an army of like-minded politicians via her political action committee?
Yeah, not so much.
But, that's not even the real story. Again, via Beckel: In the 2016 election cycle, Palin's Sarah PAC spent $830,000 on consultants and just $82,500 in donations to other candidates — a.k.a its ostensible purpose. Not only that but Sarah PAC spent $168,000 on travel and lodging expenses during the 2016 election — double what it donated to candidates, which is its ostensible … well you get the idea.
This was not an isolated incident. In the 2010 election cycle — when Sarah PAC was functioning on all cylinders — it raised $5.6 million and spent $4.3 million. Just $509,000 of that total — less than 12 percent of total expenditures — went to either candidates or political/party committees.
What the closure of Palin's PAC — and the remarkably small amount of spending on actual candidates for office — makes clear is that a) her time as a national leader for Republicans is over and b) Palin's prime interest was never really anything other than promoting her own political brand.
(I reached out to Jason Recher, a longtime Palin confidante, for a response but hadn't heard by the time I posted. I will add if I get anything from him.)
That narrative was always in play with Palin — ever since John McCain plucked her from obscurity in the summer of 2008 to serve as his vice presidential nominee. While Palin was, at first, an absolute political phenomenon, it quickly became clear that she was primarily focused on what was good for her, not on what was good for McCain or for the Republican Party more generally.
In the aftermath of that 2008 campaign, the evidence began to pile up that Palin's political ambitions were inextricably linked to her personal interests. There was, most prominently, “Sarah Palin's Alaska” — a reality TV series following the machinations of the Palin clan. There was the release of her memoir “Going Rogue” in 2009. Then “America By Heart” in 2010. Then “Good Tidings and Great Joys: Protecting the Heart of Christmas” in 2013. And the canceled before it ever got off the ground Palin-as-Judge-Judy-lite TV show.
Palin's inner circle — such as it ever existed — spent lots and lots of time in the 2009/2010 period insisting that she was focused like a laser on increasing the number of Republicans in Congress, governors' mansions and statehouses. But, following the money never bore that commitment out. Palin's outlay from her PAC was always heavily tilted toward, well, herself.
As the years have gone on and Palin has receded from the national spotlight — she was briefly part of the 2016 campaign when she endorsed Trump — the protestations of her supporters about the real goals of her political action committee have receded.
The shuttering of the PAC coupled with the clear signal its spending sends — this was always for and about Palin — should put to rest any talk to the contrary.