WASHINGTON -- A quirk in the way the Federal Election Commission describes political "draft" committees that are established to encourage people to run for office has Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's name listed as a 2012 presidential contender.
Speculation has been rampant about Palin's intentions since Tuesday, when the former vice presidential nominee announced she was setting up her own political action committee. And the way the FEC's Web site designates Palin has only fueled the speculation on Alaska-related blogs and political forums.
But although her name is listed in the FEC database as a presidential candidate in 2012, so far, Palin is not.
Here's what happened: On Nov. 20, David Kelly of Colorado and Paul Streitz of Connecticut filed a statement of organization for the "2012 Draft Sarah Committee," a committee set up to encourage Palin to run for president. Such "draft" committees are often unauthorized, which means they are started without permission from the potential candidates themselves.
When Kelly and Streitz filed their paperwork, in the section the describes the type of committee it is, they had to check off a box saying "this committee supports/opposes only one candidate, and is NOT an authorized committee." They wrote in "Sarah Palin" as the name of the candidate the committee supports.
At that time, she got automatically entered into the FEC database as a candidate for president in 2012. Anyone whose name was entered in the form would have been designated as a candidate -- even if they haven't declared themselves to be one. That's simply the way the election commission designates the people who are listed on the draft forms.
If "no official documents of an authorized committee appear on the FEC site, the individual identified has taken no action to become a candidate," said Mary Brandenberger, a spokeswoman for the FEC.
There's nothing else filed with the FEC to suggest that Palin is a presidential candidate right now.
The draft committee is unauthorized, meaning that Streitz and Kelly didn't form it with Palin's permission. Palin is aware of it, however, Streitz said, although he has never spoken to her personally.
He and Kelly, who met online through conservative causes, decided to form the draft committee after the presidential elections this year.