An Open Letter to Sarah Palin: Why Do You Mistreat Your Donors?

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The former Alaska governor used contributions to her PAC on a shameless vanity project that has nothing to do with conservative candidates or issues.

Sarah Palin in Ames - AP Photo:Charlie Neibergall - banner.jpg

Associated Press

Ms. Palin,

Your supporters trust you. For all their cynicism about politics, they believe that you're different: a faithful Christian with small town values and a commitment to doing right by regular Americans. You've used that trust to ask homemakers, retirees and small businessmen and women to send you their money. As the Web page of your official political action committee puts it, SarahPAC is "dedicated to building America's future by supporting fresh ideas and candidates."

But that isn't how you've been spending the money.

Sure, you've given to candidates in the past. But you spent $418,000 in the first 3 months on 2012, and none of it has gone to candidates! Nor has it gone to "fresh ideas." In fact, as Kenneth Vogel points out, it appears that you spent $19,000 on a video that argues an HBO film about your role in the 2008 presidential campaign gets its facts wrong. Is that correct? It's 2 minutes and 38 seconds long:



Do you think that is worth $19,000? Or $1,000? Given that you have a popular Facebook page, regular gigs on national television, and the ability to summon multiple reporters to a press conference at any time, why would you spend $19,000 saying to very few people what you could've said free? Even if the short video is worth thousands to you, why do you think it's appropriate to spend money raised on the promise that you'll support fresh ideas and candidates on contesting events that a) happened in 2008; b) have no bearing on this year's political races or issues; c) mostly just affects your reputation; d) is unlikely to change anyone's opinion of it?

Why should your donors bankroll this?

You've also spent $255,000 "on fundraising and a small team of political consultants." And perhaps there's a reasonable explanation for the $1,000 you spent at the Disneyland Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

What is it?

As I recall, this isn't the first time you've produced a high budget video to reflect well on yourself for no apparent reason. Here's the one you released earlier this year after visiting Iowa:
 

Should people who give you money expect that you'll make more videos about yourself that are totally unrelated to any campaign or issue? Do you think the money of rank and file conservatives is well spent building your personal brand? Why should anyone trust you as a steward of their money again? Did you think you'd get away with this just because the conservative media is curiously silent when popular movement figures shamelessly fleece the rank and file?

For the sake of your supporters, please do not reply by video.

Sincerely,

Conor Friedersdorf

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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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