Palin’s house of pancakes

Contributors who pay $25,000 for coffee with Sarah Palin at a fundraiser set for Oct. 4 at Centennial Airport don’t have to worry about all their money flowing out of state, even though the invitation suggests otherwise.

Buried in the fine print on the back of a McCain-Palin Victory 2008 Breakfast distributed a week ago Thursday — that’s right, while the McCain campaign had officially suspended his campaign, including fundraising activity — is the following breakdown detailing where the money goes:

• For Individuals — The first $28,500 will go to the RNC, the next portion will be divided evenly between the Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania state parties’ federal accounts up to a maximum of $9,250 for each Committee, and the final $2,300 will go to the Compliance Fund.

Because the McCain campaign is accepting $84 million in federal funds for the general election, the McCain-Palin fundraiser can’t actually raise money for the McCain-Palin campaign but has to distribute the money to surrogates. These include the “Compliance Fund,” which pays for legal and accounting costs associated with the campaign. The Republican National Committee is also paying for voter drives and helping out with McCain’s advertising, so RNC dollars bolster the McCain campaign. But what about the funds spread to state parties in Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania?

Colorado donors might not be so keen about shelling out hard-earned wads of cash for get-out-the-vote drives in Pittsburgh when the Centennial State tops lists as the crucial battleground in the presidential race.

“People can designate their money to go to Colorado,” event coordinator Paige Marriott told the Colorado Independent on Friday. She said the Victory 2008 contributions disclaimer reflected earlier realities in the presidential race, and that a portion of the funds raised would definitely stay in Colorado. “We’ve changed where it goes,” Marriott said.

The invitation to the Palin breakfast — with tickets topping out at $25,000 — describes what will happen to a donor’s money as an individual’s total contributions to the McCain-Palin Victory 2008 fund accumulate through the campaign. The fundraising structure allows donors to keep giving — and still get the chance to chat with Palin! — even if they’ve already ponied up the maximum to the McCain campaign ($2,300) and the RNC ($28,000). In fact, McCain-Palin supporters can give up to $70,000, confident the McCain-Palin Victory 2008 fund will find ways to spend it. Still, Colorado donors have only the assurance of the event’s coordinators any of the money raised at Palin’s breakfast is staying in Colorado.

It could be a good haul for Palin, who has visited the state twice since John McCain announced she would be his running mate a month ago, including a pancake breakfast that was converted to a rally after demand for tickets to the Golden event swamped local campaign offices.

“Interest in the breakfast has been overwhelming,” Marriott said, estimating the campaign has already sold 250 plates for the $1,000 breakfast. The more intimate VIP coffee that precedes the breakfast — that’s the $25,000 ticket — will be “exclusive, probably 40 or 50 people, so everyone will get a chance to ask questions.” Donors who skip the coffee but still want their pictures taken with Palin are paying $2,500 — breakfast included. And don’t expect the leftover pancakes from Palin’s earlier event. “It’s a fundraiser,” Marriott said. “There will be a real breakfast.”

It probably won’t be the last chance for Colorado residents to see Palin before the election. The Grand Junction Sentinel reports Mesa County is due for a visit from the Republican ticket “before the end,” according to a McCain campaign spokesman. Barack Obama visited the city the same day Palin was in Golden, only the second time in six decades a presidential candidate has campaigned in the Western Slope burg.

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Ernest Luning

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