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greenearth
10-22-2008, 07:37 AM
RNC shells out $150K for Palin fashion



By JEANNE CUMMINGS (http://www.politico.com/reporters/JeanneCummings.html) | 10/22/08 6:50 AM EDT Updated: 10/22/08 6:50 AM EDT
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The Republican National Committee has spent more than $150,000 to clothe and accessorize vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family since her surprise pick by John McCain in late August.

According to financial disclosure records, the accessorizing began in early September and included bills from Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis and New York for a combined $49,425.74.

The records also document a couple of big-time shopping trips to Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, including one $75,062.63 spree in early September.

The RNC also spent $4,716.49 on hair and makeup through September after reporting no such costs in August.

The cash expenditures immediately raised questions among campaign finance experts about their legality under the Federal Election Commission's long-standing advisory opinions on using campaign cash to purchase items for personal use.

Politico asked the McCain campaign for comment, explicitly noting the $150,000 in expenses for department store shopping and makeup consultation that were incurred immediately after Palin’s announcement. Pre-September reports do not include similar costs.

Spokeswoman Maria Comella declined to answer specific questions about the expenditures, including whether it was necessary to spend that much and whether it amounted to one early investment in Palin or if shopping for the vice presidential nominee was ongoing.

“The campaign does not comment on strategic decisions regarding how financial resources available to the campaign are spent," she said.

But hours after the story was posted on Politico's website and legal issues were raised, the campaign issued a new statement.
"With all of the important issues facing the country right now, it’s remarkable that we’re spending time talking about pantsuits and blouses," said spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt. "It was always the intent that the clothing go to a charitable purpose after the campaign."


Palin Fashion


The business of primping and dressing on the campaign trail has become fraught with political risk in recent years as voters increasingly see an elite Washington out of touch with their values and lifestyles.
In 2000, Democrat Al Gore took heat for changing his clothing hues. And in 2006, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) was ribbed for two hair styling sessions that cost about $3,000.
Then, there was Democrat John Edwards’ $400 hair cuts in 2007 and Republican McCain’s $520 black leather Ferragamo shoes this year.
A review of similar records for the campaign of Democrat Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee turned up no similar spending.

But all the spending by other candidates pales in comparison to the GOP outlay for the Alaska governor whose expensive, designer outfits have been the topic of fashion pages and magazines.

What hasn’t been apparent is where the clothes came from – her closet back in Wasilla or from the campaign coffers in Washington.

The answer can be found inside the RNC’s September monthly financial disclosure report under “itemized coordinated expenditures.”

It’s a report that typically records expenses for direct mail, telephone calls and advertising. Those expenses do show up, but the report also has a new category of spending: “campaign accessories.”

September payments were also made to Barney’s New York ($789.72) and Bloomingdale’s New York ($5,102.71).

Macy’s in Minneapolis, another store fortunate enough to be situated in the Twin Cities that hosted last summer’s Republican National Convention, received three separate payments totaling $9,447.71.

The entries also show a few purchases at Pacifier, a top notch baby store, and Steiniauf & Stroller Inc., suggesting $295 was spent to accommodate the littlest Palin to join the campaign trail.

An additional $4,902.45 was spent in early September at Atelier, a high-class shopping destination for men.

deangreenhoe
10-22-2008, 08:36 AM
I wonder if she gets to keep them if they lose. It's a nice consolation prize, a "parting gift" so to speak.

It would have been cheaper to just play wardrobe swap with Tina Fey. :)

tvl counts
10-22-2008, 08:57 AM
I don't understand why anybody cares about this or who buys Michelle Obamas clothes, or mine, for that matter.

Kairho
10-22-2008, 09:28 AM
She couldn't very well have campaigned in jeans. ...or camo.

Loonbeam
10-22-2008, 09:35 AM
Yeah, other than the amount (which is a tad excessive), this is not really an issue. It wouldn't surprise me that an Alaskan governor might not have the wardrobe for the kind of events that go on during a campaign.

There are two points - one, if she keeps the clothing, that is technically illegal. Two, it does feed into the image that some are trying to make of her as a dress up barbie doll who when you pull the string spouts the latest talking points.

greenearth
10-22-2008, 09:40 AM
well a couple of things. I seem to remember it was a big silly issue when Edwards received a $400 haircut. The reason why it is an issue is that it just shows you how out of touch some politcians are with the common person. Who do you know who can afford that in a wardrobe?
I am offended by this.

Kairho
10-22-2008, 09:46 AM
There are two points - one, if she keeps the clothing, that is technically illegal. Really? I believe she would have to declare them and pay the tax, but otherwise.....?

deangreenhoe
10-22-2008, 09:47 AM
She couldn't very well have campaigned in jeans. ...or camo.

Why not? Joe SixPack (and now, Joe the Plumber) would think that was "hot." LOL.

Isn't that the demographic she's supposed to be going for?

I for one am glad the GOP spent that amount of money on duds. That's $150k that isn't going to pay for more GD robo calls to my phone number. :cool:

Loonbeam
10-22-2008, 10:42 AM
Not in this case. Campaign finance law specifically excludes clothing purchases under the personal use section. Actually, depending on how you read the statute, clothing purchases of any kind other than costumes are completely prohibited in any manner, but I think that's an extreme reading. If she keeps them, she is definitively breaking the law, donating them is a little more acceptable (best suggestion I have heard so far is to put them up on ebay for charity).

Honestly, if the figure was 10K, maybe even 20K, this would be a non-issue. But 150K for clothing (one assumes she at least had SOME herself) does seem excessive to me. Even at those stores, thats a lot of shopping.



Really? I believe she would have to declare them and pay the tax, but otherwise.....?

Ned
10-22-2008, 10:44 AM
I think it matters because it goes back to questions of character and honesty that the Republicans keep bringing up. It's interesting to me how McCain and Palin always talk about character issues with Obama and Biden, yet when it's turn around time, they belittle the people who caught them doing what they condemn in others.

Campaign funds are not supposed to be used for personal items and personal care. The use of the funds for such purposes is illegal.

I don't understand why anybody cares about this or who buys Michelle Obamas clothes, or mine, for that matter.

bodega
10-22-2008, 10:52 AM
This is a nonissue for me, but if it is against the rules on the use of campaign funds, then I am sure Cindy could foot the bill. After all, she couldn't have Sarah up on the stage with her in clothing unbefitting a Republican:cool: $150,000 is nothing to what Cindy spends, right????

Ned
10-22-2008, 11:08 AM
I'm not offended by it, but I'm angry about it, because it's illegal, and because it's an issue of the pot calling the kettle black, so to speak.

If the typical American male spend $20 for a haircut, but a politician spends $400, it's ok if he wastes his money. I just don't want him wasting tax dollars.

If Palin wears a suit from Kmart, as opposed to Barney’s New York or Bloomingdale’s it will be noticeable. Frankly I doubt most people would want her in fashion by Kmart, even if that's what they wear, unless it's tax dollars or public campaign funds (tax dollars) directly paying for it. I rather see her dressed well, based on her position of Governor of Alaska and a person running for Vice President of the country. Having said that, while I want her dressed well, I don't think public funds should pay for it.

Donating to charity after the fact doesn't cut it for me. These funds shouldn't have been used to buy it in the first place.

well a couple of things. I seem to remember it was a big silly issue when Edwards received a $400 haircut. The reason why it is an issue is that it just shows you how out of touch some politcians are with the common person. Who do you know who can afford that in a wardrobe?
I am offended by this.

Kairho
10-22-2008, 11:55 AM
Not in this case. Campaign finance law specifically excludes clothing purchases under the personal use section. Actually, depending on how you read the statute, clothing purchases of any kind other than costumes are completely prohibited in any manner, but I think that's an extreme reading. If she keeps them, she is definitively breaking the law, donating them is a little more acceptable (best suggestion I have heard so far is to put them up on ebay for charity).
Thanks for the clarification. Campaign law is not something I think I've ever paid any attention to.

Nonetheless, I have no problem with the RNC shelling out for decent clothing for her. And am now, as I think about it, pleased that she doesn't get to keep them.

Annette
10-22-2008, 12:30 PM
Here's my question: What was Fey wearing on SNL? Did they spend $$$ on outfits for her to match Palin, or were they able to find good looking outfits at an affordable price?

I'm sorry but for those dollars you could have a seamstress custom make all your clothes and it would still be cheaper. It's not my election, I can't vote, but one of the things I look for in a leader is fiscal responsibility and I just don't see how spending that kind of money on clothing is responsible.

Mind you I'm rather fond of bargain shopping....

ETA: I just had to add to this, because it's in the same vein and somewhat related. It reminds me of those insurance commercials where the two women are standing in the imaginary insurance store with the big scoreboard and it shows where some random person has just saved $400 with that insurance company and one says "that's a new pair of shoes!". And my reaction is always the same - a) I would never spend $400 on a pair of shoes and b) for me that's a new pair of shoes, 5 outfits, dinner out and groceries for a week. At least. Okay so maybe I'm frugal.

Loonbeam
10-22-2008, 02:17 PM
And it gets more interesting..

Apparently, the person who made the purchases on behalf of the RNC is a fellow by the name of Jeff Larson..

From the referenced article:

Does the name Jeff Larson sound familiar? It should. Larson is the Karl Rove protégé who’s a principal in the robocalling firm of FLS Connect (http://www.flsconnect.com/) (the “FLS” stands for Tony Feather, Jeff Larson, and Tom Syndhorst, all veteran Republican political operatives). Larson’s firm is the same one that launched the scurrilous robocalls against John McCain in 2000, and that McCain has now hired to make robocalls connecting Barack Obama to Bill Ayers. He’s also well known in Minnesota for leasing his basement apartment (http://www.nationaljournal.com/njmagazine/nj_20080628_2254.php) at a steeply discounted rate to embattled Republican Senator Norm Coleman. Evidently, Larson also has quite the eye for women’s fashion. Even hateful liberals would have to admit that Palin dresses awfully nicely.

Ok, to be fair, I'm not sure this adds a lot substantively, but it's certainly odd to run your expenses that way, maybe hoping no one would notice?

Full article:

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200810u/palin-clothes