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Sarah Palin: now a credible threat?

Financial disclosure report reveals Republican ex-candidate is now supported by a well-financed poli

Sarah Palin's team filed its Federal Election Commission disclosure report last night, and it makes for very interesting reading.

It shows that her political action committee (known as SarahPAC) has know become a sophisticated and well-funded operation. The committee, which was founded in January 2009, raised $866,000 in the last quarter, more than it has ever raised before. Its expenditure is also greater, with $742,000 going out over the same period on activities such as list-building and travel.

The most striking figure in the report is "Cash on Hand at Close of Reporting Period", which stands at a little over $1m. She also made significant contributions ($82,500) to other political candidates, contributing no doubt to the success of anti-incumbent and Tea Party candidates.

The details of her expenditure are intriguing -- for instance, she spend $1,500 on dinner at Mother's Restaurant in New Orleans, an eatery where the online menu shows the most expensive dish to cost about $23. Another $3,800 reportedly went on caribou jerky from Alaska for the delegates at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.

Thousands of dollars at a time are spent on consultants and speechwriters, and $11,000 went on scheduling assistance, indicating that a real strategy is emerging, replacing her rather ad hoc communications through Facebook and Twitter.

The net operating costs for SarahPAC for these three months were $65,4584, a bill that clearly denotes a professional operation, rather than the piecemeal outfit that previously followed her around the country. Together with the launch of her "Mama Grizzlies" video last week, what these figures make clear is that Palin is gearing up for a tilt at the presidency, and she's getting started early.

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