Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, after meeting with Obama Administration officials regarding the border and immigration, talks about the meeting at the capitol Monday, June 28, 2010, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

PHOENIX - Gov. Jan Brewer's SB 1070 legal defense fund had almost $500,000 as of Thursday morning - more than 60 percent of it flooding in during the 48 hours after the U.S. Justice Department sued to invalidate the law.

The money came from more than 9,000 contributors spread from coast to coast and border to border, and the totals don't include checks that arrived by mail that haven't been opened and tallied yet.

Why the outpouring?

Thomas Chaput of LaGrange, Ga., said he had a good reason to send $20 to help Brewer defend this state's new immigration law. "Because our president is stupid," he said.

Rockville, Md., resident Margaret Cuddeback said she and her husband, Thomas, don't have a lot of money, being retired. But she said Brewer is on the right side of the legal battle with those who want SB 1070 declared illegal.

"We're generous," she explained. "But it has to be something that is worthwhile. And we thought that this was worthwhile."

Much of the money has come in small amounts, through a website the governor set up where people can simply click and charge it to their credit cards. Some of them really small.

Out of more than 9,000 web contributions, more than 4,200 were for $20 or less. Only 10 were for $1,000, with a single $2,000 donation.

Donations sent by mail generally ran a bit higher, on average, perhaps because contributors who took the time to write out a check figured they might as well make it worthwhile.

That includes Charles Friday of Pittsburgh, who sent $100 in May.

"I feel that Gov. Brewer is taking the correct stand," he said.

After reading SB 1070 off the Internet, Friday said, "What it looks like - and I heard it on the news also - is all the governor is doing is trying to enforce the federally written immigration law," adding that he's convinced illegal immigration is bad for the country.

"It's important that people who come to the United States become citizens," he said. "I don't believe we ought to have any subcultures in the United States. I think it's bad for the country."

And Friday said everyone should speak English.

State lawmakers gave Brewer the power to defend the lawsuits amid concerns Attorney General Terry Goddard, a Democrat, would not do a good job. Goddard, who also is a candidate for governor, said the law as finally amended was legally defensible but eventually stepped out of the picture rather than start a separate court battle with the governor.

And while Brewer has the help of Joe Kanefield, her legal counsel, she also has hired the firm of Snell & Wilmer to work on the case, with attorneys being paid up to $450 an hour.

The governor's office said it was unable to immediately provide details of what already has been paid by the state.

On Tuesday, the day the suit was filed, the fund collected more than $152,000 in web donations. The following day it was more than $154,000. The largest single day for donations before the suit had been June 18, when nearly $26,000 was donated via the World Wide Web.

Arizonans gave the most, kicking in more than $100,000. The second- and third-largest sources of donations were two other key border states, California and Texas, followed by Florida and Washington.

Toward the other extreme was South Dakota, with 22 Internet donations totaling $860 - and a single $10 check from Preston Olson of Bridgewater.

And Olson indicated he'd be there if Arizona takes the next step: challenging the 14th Amendment on whether children born in this country are U.S. citizens regardless of their legal status of their parents.

"It's too easy to sneak across the border in Arizona or Texas or California, have a baby, and that baby is a citizen," he said. "That's not right."