Palin on cover of state tourism brochure

NOT POLITICAL: Letters printed long before McCain picked her.

September 29, 2008 

JUNEAU -- Early this month, 500,000 people around the U.S. opened their mailbox to find a letter featuring a photo of a smiling Sarah Palin and signed simply "Sarah."

The letters, the first batch of 2.6 million slated to be sent in the next few months, have nothing to do with national politics. They were printed this summer long before the Alaska governor was named John McCain's running mate.

The Alaska Travel Industry Association brochures are part of a continuing marketing effort that goes back more than a decade with governors inviting tourists to visit their great state.

"The vice presidential announcement and the mailing just happened to occur about the same time," said Kathy Dunn at the ATIA. "But we've certainly seen an uptick in responses."

The first batch was sent mostly to people who had asked for tourism information in the past. The next round will go to people on mailing lists purchased by the ATIA.

The McCain-Palin campaign won't need to fear any legal repercussions from the letter, according to Washington D.C.-based elections law attorney Ken Gross.

Gross said the federal laws that regulate ads depicting or even mentioning a candidate within 60 days of a general election apply only to television, radio or satellite messages.

"I guess they'll just enjoy the benefit of her picture without any political communication," said Gross.

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