Lawmakers say Palin donations came without any notice

The 13 lawmakers who received campaign donations from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) have one thing in common — none of them got advance notice the checks were coming.

Palin distributed $65,000 to candidates during the first half of this year, according to a Federal Election Commission (FEC) filing this month by Sarah PAC, Palin's political action committee.

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But the lawmakers who received donations said they never heard from the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee — and possible 2012 presidential candidate — or her representatives about the money.

"The check showed up; there was no discussion ahead of time," said a spokesman for the campaign of Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), one of 11 House Republicans and two GOP senators to receive donations.

The contributions were unsolicited and unheralded, according to the lawmakers who received the donations and their campaign committees.

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Palin doled out the maximum $5,000 to 13 incumbent Republicans: Sens. Bob Corker (Tenn.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.) both received donations, as did Reps. Lou Barletta (Pa.), Larry Bucshon (Ind.), Ann Marie Buerkle (N.Y.), Francisco "Quico" Canseco (Texas), Mike Coffman (Colo.), Sean Duffy (Wis.), Renee Ellmers (N.C.), Mike Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Martha Roby (Ala.), Allen West (Fla.) and Hartzler.

The contributions were all made on the penultimate day of the second quarter, June 29, with the exception of one sent to Coffman, which was a debt retirement check sent Jan. 31.

All of the House members were from the freshman class of Republicans, with the exception of Coffman. (Fitzpatrick is technically a freshman member, despite having previously served in Congress.)

In Coffman's case, he received a check in January as a replacement for a campaign contribution he'd received from Palin last fall, but had lost. The check was subsequently voided, and Sarah PAC wrote his campaign another check to help pay down his debt.

That check arrived, unaccompanied by a note or anything else, in an envelope sent to Coffman's personal mailing address in Colorado.

"She just sent it to my house," Coffman said. "It just said 'Sarah PAC' ... that was unsolicited."

In the cases of Corker and Wicker, Palin's contributions are especially head-scratching for political observers because of the ire both members have drawn from the right. Wicker has long been known as an advocate of so-called pork projects, and conservatives bristled at Corker's work with then-Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) last year on Wall Street reform legislation. (Corker eventually bailed from talks.)

"Wicker and Corker in particular make exciting prospects for the Tea Party movement," wrote Erick Erickson, the head of the influential conservative blog RedState, the day after last fall's election.

A spokesman for Sarah PAC did not respond to emails seeking an explanation as to the former governor's contributions.

Contributions by the PACs of potential presidential candidates aren't unusual; they are given to help curry favor and — hopefully — endorsements.

Romney's Free and Strong America PAC, for instance, dispatched a combined 159 donations to campaign committees and to House and Senate candidates.

But recipients of Palin's campaign cash said they're not any more inclined to endorse the former Alaska governor for president (if she runs) compared to any other candidate because of their donations.

"Nope," said West, the beneficiary of a Palin endorsement during a key point last cycle, and the recipient of a donation this cycle, of whether he's likely to back Palin for president. "I think that her donating to me means she's supporting me."