Palin made sparing donations in 2004

She's only donated cash twice, and not to the GOP's national standard-bearers, but to the state Republican Party and to a pro-life U.S. Senate candidate trying to unseat the daughter of one of her political patrons, according to Federal Election Commission data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics.

FEC records indicate that "Housewife" Sarah Palin of Wasilla, Alaska donated $328 to the Republican Party of Alaska on June 8, 2004.

The following month, on July 22, "Homemaker" Sarah Palin forked over another $300 for the primary campaign of Mike Miller, a conservative former state legislator who was trying to unseat the incumbent U.S. senator, Lisa Murkowski.

Murkowski was herself appointed to fill out the final two years of her father Frank's senate term after his election as governor in 2002.

It was Frank Murkowski who appointed Wasilla's then-Mayor Sarah Palin to a state oil and gas commission in 2003.

Once on the commission, Palin soon stirred things up, accusing another commissioner of ethics violations and, by 2006, Gov. Frank Murkowski's own re-election was derailed by Palin, who won 51 percent of the vote in a three-way race.

Journalist Larry Persily, who served on the oil and gas commission with Palin and spent six months as her Washington representative until he resigned earlier this summer, described her as "very folksy, very engaging."

But, he added, "she doesn't care for the Republican Party [in Alaska] and the old guard doesn't care for her."

Persily said Alaska was "flush" with oil money now that the black gold is selling at more than $120 a barrel, and the state had billions of dollars in reserve.

"When oil is that high and Alaska is that rich," Persily explained, "it's pretty easy being governor because you have enough money to please everybody. She's not going to have that easy a go in Washington."

In Alaska, within a party or just a typical family, politics can be a contentious business.

Just a month after Sarah Palin contributed to Mike Miller's unsuccessful Senate bid in 2004, Faye Palin, the stepmother of Sarah's husband, Todd, contributed $250 to Lisa Murkowski's reelection campaign.

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