The woman from Wasilla who once declared that in politics “don’t retreat, reload” has claimed victory in the wake of the election of President Donald Trump and withdrawn from the field of battle.
In a strangely worded post at SarahPalin.com on Wednesday, SarahPAC – former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s political fund-raising organization – announced that “with tremendous accomplishments and a mission achieved, we’ll now move into new arenas to bolster commonsense conservative ideals in America.”
The art with the story was a cartoon of Palin pulling the Republican elephant out of a grave. It staked her claim to having transformed the GOP. With Trump in the White House, it is hard to argue with that assertion.
Palin was clearly Trump’s role model. She set the stage for a new form of constantly attacking, media-bashing politics that Trump used to win first the Republican primary and then the presidency.
His forces were on the offensive yet again Wednesday labeling what Palin used to call the “lamestream media” as the country’s new “opposition party.”
“The scathing assessment – delivered by (Stephen K. Bannon) one of Mr. Trump’s most trusted and influential advisers, in the first days of his presidency – comes at a time of high tension between the news media and the administration, with skirmishes over the size of Mr. Trump’s inaugural crowd and the president’s false claims that millions of illegal votes by undocumented immigrants swayed the popular vote against him,” the New York Times reported.
While Bannon was publicly on the attack, Palin – who was once rumored as a possible Trump pick for Secretary of the Interior – was nowhere to be found. Since the start of the new year, she has fallen so far off the Trump-administration’s radar that the last “news” about her was satire joking about “her utter surprise at learning that the position secretary of moose hunting ‘is apparently not a real thing.'”
Where to now?
SarahPAC’s announcement of its own demise didn’t offer a hint of what Palin plans next. It said SarahPAC was undergoing a “transition,” but documents filed with the Federal Election Commission told a simpler story.
According to FEC records, SarahPAC treasurer Timothy Crawford filed a “termination” notice on Wednesday. The FEC paperwork shows SarahPAC’s coffers now empty, although it did start 2016 with $381,000 cash on hand and raised another $469,000 over the course of the year.
Most of that $850,000 appears to have been spent on consultants and attorneys in 2016. The report lists the disbursement of $791,000 for “other federal operating expenditures,” a broad category of expenses that includes speech writers, image grooming, mass-mailing fees, legal retainers, rental cars, and a whole lot more.
SarahPac, for instance, reimbursed Todd Palin, Sarah’s husband, $680 for picking up a rental car in Wasilla in June, and paid $250 for a room at the Trump International Las Vegas in October. But the bulk of the money went to keeping the organization functioning or paying consultants.
NorthStar Strategies of New Orleans appears to have done particularly well by Palin. It is a company run by Jason Recher, a former presidential advance man for President George W. Bush.
With a goodly number of small contributions – $50 to $500 – continuing to trickle into SarahPAC from average Americans, it is unclear why it shut down, and the announcement didn’t shed much light.
“Our mission here at SarahPAC has been to change the face and direction of American politics,” it said. “We’ve worked hard to elect new, bold, ‘outsider’ candidates. We have been successful!”
But it offered no hint of what Palin plans to do next, saying only that “Governor Palin will never stop working for you; rest assured she will continue her fight.
“Please continue your fight as well. The future of the most exceptional nation on earth depends on it! To do so, please follow Governor Palin on Facebook and Twitter, visit sarahpalin.com to stay updated, and stay tuned for our next steps we’ll take with you to make America great again.”
Palin didn’t offer much more on her Facebook page where she simply promised to write a new chapter while praising her political action committee.
“We didn’t engage in political cronyism, didn’t capitalize on PAC influence for anyone’s employment or hob-nobbing opportunities, and we did not profit from the PAC. We ‘went rogue’ every day for nearly eight years to prove an aspect of American politics could be clean and upright,” she or someone wrote there.
“Stay tuned for the next steps we’ll take with you as SarahPAC winds down and we leap forward into the next chapter.”
Palin has, of course, done this before. After a failed bid for vice-president on the ticket with Republican John McCain of Arizona, she returned home to Alaska and shocked the 49th state by resigning as governor only about halfway through her term.
She did it much in the style of her SarahPAC announcement. The word resign or resignation was never used. Instead, she offered this:
“So, we are here today at a changing of the guard. Now, people who know me, and they know how much I love this state, some still are choosing not to hear why I made the decision to chart a new course to advance the state.”
Some thought it was the end of the woman who’d been hounded and pounded by the national media during the 2008 presidential election campaign, but it was really just a beginning as Palin morphed into a divisive, but crowd-attracting national pol-ebrity.
By 2011, she was such a big deal she had the national media chasing a family bus tour across the lower 48 thinking Palin might any day announce her bid for the presidency. She never did.
Instead the country elected a New York billionaire who came across as something of a smarter, possibly even more aggressive Palin in Pants.