Is it money laundering to take donations from your political action committee and convert them into a royalties check through your publisher? Not if you are Alaska's favorite half-term governor.
Sarah Palin, the former politician turned Fox News contributor, spent $63,000 of SarahPAC's money on copies of her book, "Going Rogue," an ABC News report revealed on Monday.
"Is that money laundering?" MSNBC host Keith Olbermann asked liberal blog publisher Arianna Huffington during a Monday night broadcast.
"It certainly is," she replied.
However, because she no longer holds public office and is not currently seeking election, Palin's SarahPAC is not subject to the rules applied to PACs supporting most politicians. Because of this, "her PAC is free to purchase the book under current law, according to Jan Baran, a campaign legal expert," ABC News noted.
A Palin spokeswoman told the network that the books were autographed and sent to SarahPAC donors who gave more than $100.
"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," ABC News added.
The network also noted another $20,000 was sent from SarahPAC to Harper Collins to pay Palin's personal photographer and another aide to accompany her on the book tour. An additional $8,000 in SarahPAC donations was spent producing bookmarks, ABC News reported.
"Going Rogue," prepared by a ghostwriter, was delivered to eager readers on Nov. 17, 2009, after she and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) failed in their bid to win the U.S. presidency. It was ranked as a New York Times best seller even before it was available for purchase.
Right-wing groups such as the Conservative Book Club and Newsmax helped, in part, to fuel the meteoric rise in sales by placing large bulk orders, then essentially giving copies away to new members or subscribers.
The Associated Press lashed Palin's book for "ignoring substantial parts of her record" and "Going Rogue" on many facts, from obscuring truth in how she portrayed herself to fudging facts on contemporary political issues.
A CBS News poll released in January found that a whopping 71 percent of Republican voters do not want her to run for the party's 2012 presidential nomination to face President Barack Obama in the general election. Overall, just 26 percent of respondents said they have a "positive" view of the one-time elected official.
SarahPAC claimed over $2 million in donations at the end of 2009. Approximately $65,000 went to Palin-friendly candidates, while over $1 million paid for her travel and related expenses. Approximately $1.4 million was raised in the second half of the year, according to the Associated Press. PoliticsUSA has a complete breakdown of the claimed expenditures.
Palin has said if "God" tells her to run for president in 2012, she will.
This version corrects a typographical error that placed the next presidential election in 2010.