SarahPAC pushes for donations to meet deadline today

FIRST 6 MONTHS: Election commission's deadline sparks last-minute drive.

June 29, 2009 

WASHINGTON -- Gov. Sarah Palin's supporters got yet another request to donate money this week, this time to her political action campaign.

Seeking a bump in the committee's fundraising numbers by the June 30 deadline, SarahPAC sent out an e-mail soliciting as many contributions as possible by day's end today.

"Please give before June 30th. Your help is critical," wrote SarahPAC spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton in an e-mail sent Monday from the political action committee.

Stapleton was referencing the deadline for reporting donations to the PAC from the first half of the year. The report is due to the Federal Election Commission on July 31.

"With your help, we can take the Governor's message and encourage others who also have hope and are firmly rooted in the conservative belief that you know how best to spend your money and not government," Stapleton wrote.

The solicitation is the second big push for donations this month from organizations connected to Palin. The governor's friends and supporters earlier this month held an online appeal that raised more than $100,000 toward their $500,000 goal to help Palin pay an estimated $600,000 in legal bills. The donations, which are capped at $150, go to the Alaska Fund Trust. The "webathon" was promoted by the pro-Palin Web site Conservatives4Palin and Team Sarah, an anti-abortion social networking site launched during last year's election.

For Palin -- and other political figures with an eye on a 2012 presidential bid -- posting large numbers can demonstrate broad support and an ability to play on a national stage. Big fundraising numbers connote strength and viability as a future candidate, said fundraiser Steve Gordon, who has been raising money for Republican U.S. Senate candidates for 31 years. Palin's performance as a fundraiser matters "for the same reasons it's important for any candidate to show big numbers."

"She has to do well so she's graded well," Gordon said.

common practice

The PAC push is fairly common this time of year. In election years political action committees are required to file quarterly, but in off years they file just twice. That meant many fundraising committees and political action committees cranked out the solicitations Monday, the day before their reporting deadline.

"The fundraising implorations often are couched in apocalyptic and urgent tones, warning of the political consequences of the opposition winning the upcoming election," noted Congressional Quarterly's blog "Eye on 2010," which is watching the next election cycle. Some, like that from House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, warned in a fundraising e-mail sent out by the National Republican Congressional Committee that "every dollar counts"

Palin herself did not directly ask for money in the SarahPAC e-mail and is unconnected with the legal-expense fund set up by her friends. However, the subject line of the e-mail message sent today by SarahPAC is "Sarah Palin is Asking For Your Help," and the governor did attach a personal message.

The governor also on Monday, through the social networking Web site Twitter, asked the people who follow her news feed to make a donation to a charity drive to help pay for travel for military personnel.

There's no word on how much Palin's political action committee has collected so far, and Stapleton did not respond to a request for comment. Pam Pryor, who also works for SarahPAC, said earlier this year that the PAC has done well, considering that it kept a low profile during the Alaska legislative session and sent out few direct solicitations.

However, the logistics of raising money might have become more difficult in April, when Palin's political action committee had a falling-out with Campaign Solutions, a Virginia company headed by one of the pioneers in online campaign contributions, Rebecca Donatelli.

Donatelli severed the relationship with SarahPAC after Palin's legal-expense fund chose to use an Alaska firm to host its Web site and process donations. Campaign Solutions handled online fundraising for the McCain-Palin campaign and also had set up the online fundraising mechanism for SarahPAC. Palin's political action committee allows people to donate directly online, but the legal-expense fund requires that people send checks or go through PayPal.

The main page of Palin's political action committee continues to direct people to her legal-expense fund, the Alaska Fund Trust.

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