ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Bristol Palin earned the $262,500 she was paid to advocate for abstinence and against teen pregnancy in 2009, the head of a nonprofit group that paid her said on Wednesday.
“Bristol did a tremendous amount of work for us — many, many days and weeks,” said Neil Cole, founder of the nonprofit Candie’s Foundation.
The daughter of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin became a single mother at age 18 and last year her profile rose when she was a fan favorite on ABC show “Dancing with the Stars.”
She was already famous, in part for being pregnant during Sarah Palin’s 2008 campaign as the Republican vice presidential candidate, and for her on-and-off relationship with the father of her child, Levi Johnston.
The New York-based foundation is an offshoot of the fashion brand Candie’s, which is part of Iconix Brand Group Inc. Cole is chairman, CEO and president of Iconix.
Sarah Palin has generated controversy almost from the moment 2008 Republican presidential contender Sen. John McCain named her as his running mate, and Cole said that applies to Bristol Palin also, which helps his organization.
“She is such a lightning rod,” Cole said. “Everyone is familiar with the Palins, and Bristol turned out to be, as someone said today, the gift that keeps on giving.”
Some commentators have criticized the payments.
But Cole defended the foundation’s 2009 practice of spending only $35,000 on direct health and assistance services, versus the money paid to Bristol Palin.
“The foundation’s purpose is not to make grants to direct providers; it is to raise awareness,” he said. “We’re very proud of our work.”
The $262,500 payment from Candie’s Foundation to Bristol Palin for her work in 2009 was detailed in financial statements from the nonprofit organization.
Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Greg McCune