Feb. 1, 2010 -- Sarah Palin has been using her political action committee to buy up thousands of copies of her book, "Going Rogue," in order to mail copies of the memoir to her donors, newly filed campaign records show.
The former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate had her political organization spend more than $63,000 on what her reports describe as "books for fundraising donor fulfillment." The payments went to Harper Collins, her publisher, and in some instances to HSP Direct, a Virginia-based direct mail fundraising firm that serves a number of well-known conservative politicians and pundits.
Sarah PAC spent another $8,000 on colorful bookmarks designed by a Nashville-based event branding firm. And her committee paid her publisher $20,000 for what appears to have been the cost of sending her personal photographer and another aide along on her book tour. Those expenses are listed by the PAC as travel repayment to Harper Collins.
All of the purchases took place in November and December of 2009, the records show.
Meghan Stapleton, a spokeswoman for Palin, said the book purchases were part of a promotion to reward donors with autographed copies if they gave more than $100 to the PAC.
"Due to supporters' demand for the national best-seller "Going Rogue," Sarah PAC purchased books and sent free, signed copies to those who donated $100 or more between November 16 and November 25 at noon," Stapleton said. "The fundraising tool was wildly successful."
Published in November, "Going Rogue: An American Life," is described by Harper Collins as "an intimate portrait" in which Palin "opens up for the first time about the 2008 presidential race, providing a rare, mom's-eye view of high-stakes national politics." On the web site of her PAC, Palin posted a special letter to supporters upon the release of her book. "My book, 'Going Rogue,' is dedicated to you -- to Patriots -- who fight for freedom!" she wrote in the note, which concludes with the opportunity to donate.
Palin would not be the first politician to use a PAC to underwrite the purchase of a memoir. The Federal Election Commission has heard a number of cases on the question of whether it is an appropriate expense. The rules are somewhat complex, but because Palin is neither a candidate for office, nor a sitting member of congress, her PAC is free to purchase the book under current law, according to Jan Baran, a campaign legal expert.
When former Democratic vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman sought in 2004 to give away copies of his memoir, "In Praise of Public Life," he declined to take royalties off the books purchased by his campaign committee. It is not known whether Palin entered into a similar arrangement.