Palin’s Shadowy Researcher Cashes In—Again

Flickr/<a href="">david_shankbone</a>

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The latest financial filings for Sarah Palin’s political action committee, SarahPAC, are out, and the secretive research shop Daniel Schulman and I investigated in November remains on Palin’s payroll. According to new Federal Election Commission filings, SarahPAC paid $4,000 on November 24 to Paideia Limited for “research.” But as we uncovered, Paideia is a shell corporation; its address leads to a mail drop in rural Wyoming, and even the lawyer who incorporated the company doesn’t know who’s behind it.

After digging through both American and British business records, and calling all over the country, we eventually tracked down the man behind Paideia: a Dutch right-wing journalist named Joshua Livestro. His background is hardly common for an American political operation:

The 40-year-old is not your typical hire for an American political operation. He has worked as a columnist for the Benelux version of Reader’s Digest and the Dutch newspaper De Telegraf. He’s also the founder and editor-in-chief of De Dagelijkse Standaard (or, The Daily Standard), a right-wing political blog that weighs in frequently on Palin. In the 1990s, he worked with England’s Conservative Party; he went on to become an assistant to Frits Bolkestein, then a European Commission member for internal market and financial services.

More recently, he’s been a combative contributor to the website Conservatives4Palin. There he took on Palin’s critics on the left and the right, attacking journalists including Marc Ambinder (then of The Atlantic, now of National Journal), Politico’s Ben Smith, and National Review’s Jonah Goldberg, among many others.

So why Livestro? It turned out Sarah PAC brought him on to advise Palin on the European debt crisis—a move that struck some, like conservative David Frum, by surprise. “Why is a potential president relying for economic advice on freelance journalists rather than Nobel Prizewinners?” Frum wrote on his blog. “It’s almost as if Gov. Palin finds the idea of expertise—not merely incomprehensible—but actively repugnant.” But Palin and her team must like Livestro well enough if they’re keeping him on the SarahPAC payroll.

All told, Sarah PAC did quite well at the end of 2010. The committee raised $275,000 in the last six weeks of 2010. And in 2010 in general, Sarah PAC drummed up $3.5 million, and the committee still has $1.3 million on hand. With that hefty sum in the bank, Palin’s committee stands ready to bolster the Alaskan’s presidential bid if—more like, when—she officially announces her presidential run.

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