ABC News' Shushannah Walshe (@shushwalshe) reports:
Despite SarahPAC’s reputation for secrecy and discretion, ABC News has learned that two Sarah Palin staffers have signed on with a speaking agency. At this point, it’s unclear whether the aides have signed on to dish about their boss, who’ve they’ve had an on again/off again relationship with or if Palin even knows about their foray into the world of paid speeches.
Palin staffers Jason Recher and Doug McMarlin have signed on with the speaking agency, The American Program Bureau. According to the agency's website, they are available to be paid to speak on topics that include “From 9/11 to Katrina: Lessons for Leaders in the Face of Crisis” and “Designer Politics: A New Age of Political Power.”
Both Recher and McMarlin were also advance staffers for President George W. Bush. The agency represents Donna Brazile, Frank Luntz and Bay Buchanan, among many others.
Recher was one of Palin’s longest serving and trusted aides; he initially met her on the vice-presidential campaign in 2008 and became one of SarahPAC’s first staffers. He also worked on her “Going Rogue” book tour and a number of political and speaking events before parting ways around the midterm elections last year.
After the campaign, Recher and McMarlin founded NorthStar Strategies, which ran SarahPAC’s logistical operations as well as assisting with strategy and some limited press communications. Although Recher did do some political advising for her during the 2008 campaign and was her closest advisor when SarahPAC launched, by the time they left the organization both McMarlin and Recher’s roles had shifted and they were both relegated to strictly doing advance work.
Recher and McMarlin did re-join the SarahPAC organization when Palin launched her bus tour last May, but it’s not clear if the two were on board for only that one trip or if they will advance other legs of the tour if she does re-launch it. NorthStar Strategies was listed on Palin’s last FEC report released earlier this month, showing payments for logistical consulting in January and February and logistical trip consulting in May as well as reimbursements.
The bio for the duo on the American Program Bureau’s website says they have “served as advisors” to Bush, Karl Rove, John McCain, and Sarah Palin.
“Together they operate NorthStar Strategies, LLC, where they work to create major media and political strategy campaigns, implement national best-selling tours, and function as liaisons, publicists, and advisors within the political, publishing, and entertainment sectors,” the bio reads.
The introduction ends with the mention that both Recher and McMarlin have both “appeared on the covers of Time magazine and been featured in New York Times Magazine,” referring to cover stories on Palin.
The SarahPAC organization is famous for its discretion, with only a few reporters knowing the inner workings of the operation. It’s open to question whether Palin and her organization would continue to have an ongoing relationship with or approve of staffers working the speaking circuit. Recher and McMarlin, however, have been with the agency since at least May 18. That day they posted a blog on the American Program Bureau’s site discussing Osama bin Laden’s death and criticizing the president’s communications strategy afterwards. Palin launched her bus tour in Washington D.C. on May 29. It’s not clear if Sarah Palin or SarahPAC are even aware that they have signed on with the American Program Bureau. The SarahPAC organization did not immediately return calls for comment.
Palin herself is signed with the Washington Speaker’s Bureau for paid speeches.
Even if they don’t plan speeches specifically around their work with Palin, they are sure to be asked questions about the former Alaska governor. The American Program Bureau did not immediately return a call for comment so ABC News could not yet determine if they have begun giving paid speeches.
Neither Recher nor McMarlin returned calls for comment.
ABC News’ Sheila Marikar contributed to this report.