When Sarah Palin decided to resign from office last summer, the decision came in no small part from the need to earn money to defend herself after a barrage of complaints and a highly biased media treatment in the 2008 presidential campaign. ABC News reports that Palin has succeeded perhaps beyond anyone’s imagining. Counting the book, the lecture circuit, and the media contracts, Palin has made more than $12 million in just nine months:
Pundits can debate the political costs and benefits of Sarah Palin’s decision to step down as Alaska governor, but the monetary advantages of leaving her $125,000-a-year public service post are beyond dispute.
Since leaving office at the end of July 2009, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee has brought in at least 100 times her old salary — a haul now estimated at more than $12 million — through television and book deals and a heavy schedule of speaking appearances worth five and six figures.
That conservative estimate is based on publicly available records and news accounts. The actual number is probably much higher, but is hard to quantify because Palin does not publicize her earnings. She reputedly got a $7 million deal for her first book, with the bulk of that money due after her resignation as governor, and will earn about $250,000 per episode, according to the web site The Daily Beast, for each of eight episodes of a reality show about Alaska for the The Learning Channel. She has managed to keep a lid on reliable figures for her earnings from a multi-year contract with Fox News and a second book deal with HarperCollins.
The political consequences only come into play if Palin plans to run for office in 2012. At the moment, Palin seems much more intent on cementing her position as a conservative activist, and as a media commentator. And these results speak for themselves in terms of her effectiveness and reach in that role.
Speaking fees have become flash points for controversy for Palin, as ABC notes, but mostly just tempests in teapots. Palin didn’t charge any fee at all to support Michele Bachmann’s event here in Minnesota, and she scales back fees when necessary to promote causes in which she believes. However, the fact that she can demand and get six-figure appearance fees demonstrates her power to draw supporters and media attention.
Besides, what’s usually not mentioned in these “controversies” is the fact that her hosts use her to make money. ABC does report that at the end of the article by providing both sides of a debate that occurred when Cal State Stanislaus engaged Palin for a fundraiser, when Palin accepted a lower fee of $75,000 for her appearance:
In California, state lawmakers have criticized officials at California State University, Stanislaus, for agreeing to pay an estimated $75,000 to Palin so she can keynote a fundraiser for the school. And when they asked the university to provide the details of the contract with Palin, university officials refused because they said the contract included a confidentiality provision.
“Money that is spent on bringing an out-of-touch former politician to campus could be spent on scholarships and other financial assistance during these challenging budget times,” said state Sen. Leland Yee, a San Francisco Democrat. … University Vice President Susana Gajic-Bruyea sent an email March 29 to students defending the choice.
“The board wanted to bring a keynote speaker who would attract significant interest and, therefore, drive ticket sales,” she wrote. “Sarah Palin is that type of speaker, whether or not people agree with her politics, and we expect this event to be a tremendous fund-raising success.”
Exactly. There is nothing wrong with succeeding, and in sharing in the success that one generates. The only reaction anyone should have is “congratulations.”