WASHINGTON — In addition to the more than $700,000 that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's political action committee raised during the first half of the year, it's brought in $200,000 more since her July 3 announcement that she's stepping down.
According to Federal Election commission reports filed Monday, the former Republican vice presidential candidate brought in $732,867 in donations through June 30.
Another $200,000 came in after the deadline — all of it in the 10 days following Palin's announcement of her resignation, said Meghan Stapleton, a spokeswoman for her campaign.
It's "above par," said Steve Gordon, a Washington-based Republican fundraising veteran who works mostly on Senate campaigns.
The big question, however, is what she does with the money, Gordon said. So far, Palin has donated to just two candidates: $5,000 to her 2008 running mate, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and another $5,000 to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.
Palin has indicated that she'll use her political fame help other candidates raise money, especially Republican gubernatorial candidates.
"You need a white-hot base to build your political activities from," Gordon said. "The question most significantly is, is she going to focus her political activities in the base, or is she going to try to expand outside of that? That's really the question. And if she does reach outside her safety area, how will that be received?"
For Palin, it's also promising that the bulk of her donations came from donations smaller than $200, Gordon said. Of the $732,867 raised by the PAC, 57 percent came from donors who contributed less than $200. The FEC doesn't require those donations be itemized by individual donor. Just 28 of the 709 donors who did give more than $200 were from Alaska.
The closest comparison to Palin, former Massachusetts GOP Gov. Mitt Romney, raised $1.3 million for his political action committee over the same period. However, it's not entirely an apples and orange comparison, Gordon said. Romney has an existing national network of donors and the ability to tap his own personal fortune, as he did during his 2008 bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
SarahPAC, which got its start in late January, spent $276,200 of what it raised, according to FEC reports. Most of that money _ $106,519 _ went to eDonation.com/Campaign Solutions, the firm owned by online campaign fundraising pioneer Becki Donatelli. Stapleton said that the political action committee parted ways with Donatelli in late April, but it appears the PAC continued to pay the company through June 26.
Stapleton was paid $12,000 by SarahPAC and another $32,450 through IzzyLene, a consulting firm registered in her name in Alaska.
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