Lipstick on a PAC: Palin Criticized for Using Campaign Funds for Clothing and Alaskan Funds for Kids’ Travel

If the difference between a Hockey Mom and a pit bull is lipstick, Gov. Sarah Palin may also want to throw in “and $150,000 in expenses.” It turns out that the lipstick is paid for by the Republican National Committee. This week Palin has been hammered by disclosures that she spent $150,000 of campaign money on clothes and make-up. In the meantime, another report has disclosed that she used state funds in Alaska to pay for the travel of her children — including changing records to indicate that they were on official travel despite the fact that the event organizers did not invite family members.

When Palin called for a return to “small-town values,” she did not mention that she value shops at places like Neiman-Marcus.

Palin’s use of campaign funds includes bills from Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis and New York for a combined $49,425.74. They also cover to Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, including a whopping $75,062.63 spree in early September. The RNC also paid for $4,716.49 on hair and makeup through September after reporting no such costs in August.

Other expenditures: Barney’s New York ($789.72); Bloomingdale’s New York ($5,102.71); Macy’s in Minneapolis ($9,447.71). They also include purchases at Pacifier, a top notch baby store, and Steiniauf & Stroller Inc. as well as $4,902.45 was spent in early September at Atelier, a high-class store for men.

The RNC strangely objected that, with so many people out of work and struggling, it is wrong for the media to raise questions over a candidate spending the equivalent of the annual earnings of six citizens on make-up and clothes: “With all of the important issues facing the country right now, it’s remarkable that we’re spending time talking about pantsuits and blouses. It was always the intent that the clothing go to a charitable purpose after the campaign.” How exactly does one give back lipstick to charity?

What is most interesting is that the Palin camp appears to have knowingly played on a loophole in the campaign financing law — the type that McCain has criticized. Under federal law (that McCain supported), a campaign cannot purchase such items for Palin. However, they used the RNC account and the law is unclear on a committee forking over such personal benefits. Since McCain opposed such expenses for campaigns, he would presumably be opposed to the same practice by a party committee. Clothes and cosmetics is not the original purpose for such solicitations. Due to the current loophole, the only difference between the McCain campaign and a PAC is lipstick.

This follows a story on the use of Alaskan funds to take the kids of such trips as watching their Dad in a race. This also included the governor attending a five-hour conference and staying with her 17-year-old Bristol for five days and four nights in a luxury hotel. click here.

Cindy McCain was attacked for wearing clothing and jewelry worth an estimated $313,000. However, she paid for the clothes and I did not view it as a legitimate criticism. She is rich, let’s get over that. Palin, however, is being accused of using state and campaign funds for personal purposes — a vice all too familiar in the small town of Washington.

For the clothing story, click here.

For the travel story, click here.

14 thoughts on “Lipstick on a PAC: Palin Criticized for Using Campaign Funds for Clothing and Alaskan Funds for Kids’ Travel”

  1. By all that’s holy, JT! I’m now officially glad I’m fighting off a cold. Maybe the NyQuil will blank out that Biden image from infecting my REM sleep tonight.

    Spending the equivalent of a house or an exotic sports car on clothing is at the basest level nothing more than ego and wasteful. Strategically and tactically stupid too in this economy. It says volumes about judgment or lack thereof when most Americans are hurting to rub their noses in the proverbial pile this way. Now every time I see a house worth less than 150K with a McCain/Palin sign in the yard, I have to resist the urge to stop and ask them if they are recovering from a severe head trauma or if they just like being treated like suckers.

  2. Gyges,
    With all due respect, it is not an internal issue. It is an issue of spending lavishly with the money that the Republican donors gave to the RNC and not using it wisely. You are right that it is between the donors and the RNC and that is what I said in my earlier posting. Remember this is the campaign that calls Palin an everyday Hockey Mom and then they put designer clothes on her at donor expense. Not wise with their money and the concept is not a wise one either.

  3. Raff,

    Not to sound callous, but that’s between the donors and the RNC. I’m not saying that it was ethical or even all that smart (although clothing makes the man), but I am saying that it’s an internal matter.

  4. Biden in a swim suit is a littel scary, but I would like to respond to Gyges who said that since it is RNC money that it is no big deal that they are using their money to dress up Gov. Palin in some serious threads. However, I would wager that a significant number of the donors to the RNC would have a significant problem with their money going for extravagant clothes. I agree with Jill that the throw away comment that the clothes would be donated to charity smacks of arrogance. What is someone at a charity organization going to do with a Neiman Marcus outifit worth big dollars? Can a charity sell these clothes on Ebay to get money for their public service? If there really is a market for used VP candidate’s clothes on ebay, maybe Palin can try to sell the state plane on Ebay again.

  5. rcampbell:

    Are you suggesting some type of pageant to select someone who shows the correct clothes and decorum? That might appeal to Palin, but I am not sure that I am ready for Biden in the bathing suit competition.

  6. Gyges
    1, October 22, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    >I think that a person’s wardrobe has everything to do with how they >come across to other people…

    I agree, and what this $150,000 wardrobe make-over demonstrates to me is that she wasn’t (isn’t) ready for the national stage. She isn’t equipped politically or mentally let alone sartorialy.

  7. While for the most part I agree with your take Gyges, what I find fascinating is the stores involved, juxtaposed by Palin’s self characterization as one of the common folk. My wife and I have never set foot in Nieman Marcus and have only window shopped in Saks. WE know that these are quite pricey stores meant for those of wealthy means. This is a situation that drips with irony in that the McCain
    Palin message of late has been to position themselves as populists and so their campaign couldn’t have picked more inappropriate stores for outfitting their candidate.

  8. I’m not sure that I care that much about the cloths issue. I think that a person’s wardrobe has everything to do with how they come across to other people, so if the RNC doesn’t have a problem with her wasting their money I don’t really either. I don’t know for sure, but I’m under the impression that most media personalities get their “on air” cloths paid for by the company. Or in a better analogy Talent agencies often buy their new clients duds in an effort to change their image to something more consumable.

    Wasting taxpayer money is another issue entirely. For somebody who bills themselves as fiscal conservative to use the state’s money in this way is at best a severe blind spot in their values.

  9. Under ordinary circumstance I would say that the VP of the United States should reflect an image of power and importance. However, during a time of one of the worst financial crises in history, and when you are claiming to be “middle class” and represent middle class America, (as she hammered in her debate) and when you are saying that you relate to hockey moms and Joe six packs (I don’t really get that one. They say they like her because she’s a babe?) then I don’t think it’s prudent of the image makers to shop at the most expensive department stores in the nation. Uh, maybe they are spending the tax breaks they got from president Bush? Oh sorry, I forgot, their generous donors paid for the shopping sprees. Or was it Federal campaing money? (Uh, isn’t that tax payer money?) Jonathon is absolutely right in that Cindy is rich and if she wants to spend her own money go right ahead. Although it also doesn’t look good to say you are working for the middle class when you have 7 homes, 11 cars, and 300K outfits. But hey, good judgement hasn’t been a McCain trait in the past few months.

  10. I agree that the issue is these are campaign funds, not personal funds. The statement that the clothes will be donated to charity smacks of “noblesse oblige”.

    Any relation to Sarah Palin and the vast majority of women who work for pay is tenuous at best. Working one or two jobs at minumum wage, a reality for many, many women is simply not the same as Sarah Palin’s job. There are relatively few women at Sarah Palin’s income level. It is disengenuous to pretend otherwise.

    All of the people who are running for president/vice president are quite wealthy. It is unseemly to pretend otherwise. What would be admirable is to be upfront about one’s income and say just because I’m doing fine, it’s not O.K. to ignore that most of the rest of the population is in dire straights and needs such things as: 1. a social safety net and 2. good paying jobs with benefits.

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