Show Me the Money!

Via Kevin Drum, we learn that Sarah Palin doesn't give it away for nothing:

The Republican National Committee is paying off some of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's sizable legal fees dating back to the 2008 presidential campaign in exchange for her help raising money for the financially strapped RNC during the campaign season, The Washington Times has learned.

The Times obtained a copy of a check for $128,518.85 that was made out to Anchorage law firm Clapp, Peterson, Van Flein, Tiemessen & Thorsness, which Mrs. Palin hired after a string of ethics charges were lodged against her when she was Alaska's governor and the GOP's nominee for vice president....

"That was payment for services she was providing, including a couple speeches, a couple fundraising letters and a telephone call," Mr. Pullen said. "There was not a contract so far as I know. It was verbal."

Former RNC Chairman Frank J. Fahrenkopf said he could not recall a similar arrangement for those helping the party build its financial base during his tenure. "Wow. I never paid anyone money to make speeches and sign direct-mail appeals," Mr. Fahrenkopf said.

That's because Sarah Palin makes her own rules, baby! You want her to let you put her name on a fundraising e-mail, you better open your checkbook. Talk about shaking up the power structure in Washington.

I suppose her perspective on this is that all of those legal bills are the product of a campaign to destroy her, so she certainly shouldn't be the one to pay for them. And if someone else has to, why not the Republican Party, into which she breathes new life on a daily basis, just by the continued advancement of Brand Palin?

Actually, there's something to the idea that she can do this because she's anti-establishment, even if I say it in jest. Somebody trying to build a presidential campaign in a methodical, more traditional way -- like Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty -- would never try to weasel a few hundred grand out of the RNC to pay their legal bills, because it's the kind of thing that doesn't endear you to the party leaders whose support you'll need to win the nomination. But if Palin does decide to run, she'll be winning or losing on the power of her celebrity and personality. It won't be because she locked down the key endorsements and put together a smoothly humming campaign machine. So why not grab all she can while she has the chance?

-- Paul Waldman

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