For Palin, fundraising as usual in Calif

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, a self-described government reformer, is dabbling in a little politics as usual.

Palin is headlining a GOP fundraiser later this month at the home of a California billionaire where the asking price for a snapshot with her and a seat at the headtable is $50,000.

Ticket prices start at $1,000, according to an invitation to the Sept. 25 soiree at the Silicon Valley home of software mogul Tom Siebel. But donors can get access to a private reception, photographs with the candidate and preferred seating by agreeing to pony up or raise larger amounts.

It takes a $50,000 commitment to be named a chair of the afternoon event, which comes with access to the reception for six people, two seats at the head table, a table for 10 at the lunch and three opportunities for photos with the Alaska governor, according to an invitation.

A $2,500 donation comes with a John McCain lapel pin.

In her speech at the Republican National Convention, Palin described herself as a change agent who as governor "took on the old politics as usual."

"She seems to have quickly acclimated to the way big money is raised on a national level," said Massie Ritsch, a spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics, which monitors presidential fundraising.

"Both presidential tickets are talking a big game about reform, but it seems to get the opportunity to reform they play the same old game and raise money from deep-pocketed donors at exclusive events," Ritsch said.

Because McCain is using public dollars to finance his general-election operation, he can spend none of the money from the fundraiser. The donations will be divided among the California Republican Party, the Republican National Committee and a fund McCain can use to pay lawyers and accountants.

However, the RNC and the California party can spend their share of the proceeds on activities that support McCain's campaign, such as voter-registration drives.

Democrat Barack Obama is raising private money for his general-election campaign, despite a promise last year to accept public financing and its accompanying spending limits if the Republican nominee did, too. Obama has raised $390 million thus far for his campaign.

McCain, co-author of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, has urged Obama to accept public money.

The "McCain-Feingold reforms banned soft money contributions to national political parties and established the current contribution limits for individual contributions for party committees," McCain campaign spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker said in a statement. "Gov. Palin will be speaking at a Republican party event raising money under these limits, just as Sen. Obama and Sen. Biden are doing across the country."

Under federal rules, individual donations to presidential candidates are capped at $4,600, but political parties can accept larger amounts.

Republicans expect Palin to mobilize their donors across the country, especially conservatives.