$150,000 Dressup

22 Oct

In the midst of a financial meltdown and bailout of Wall Street, it’s always heartening to learn that the Vice Presidential nominee’s wardrobe is getting covered by the Republican National Committee, and although Governor Palin rails daily against various and sundry elites, I’m pretty sure that getting a $150,000 wardrobe over the course of a month makes you – *gasp* – elite .

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.

Evidently, they grow good clothes at Saks and Nieman Marcus.

The average American family spends $150k on clothes every 80 years. Joe Six-Pack probably shops the sale rack at Sears or Penney’s. Especially in this economy.

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.

Barney’s and Bloomingdale’s? Saks and Neiman Marcus? Almost $10k at Macy’s? OMGOMG She’s just like us!

27 Responses to “$150,000 Dressup”

  1. Historical Pessimist October 22, 2008 at 7:47 am #

    Bonus points for the “Guys and Dolls” reference! Thanks.

  2. Bill Altreuter October 22, 2008 at 8:47 am #

    Unless someone can point us to a specific violation of campaign finance law I think this is something of a non-story, and kinda sexist. I’d like to know what the rules are about this sort of expenditure– it seems to me that if Joe Biden spilled something on his tie and had to buy a new one nobody would have anything to say about it if campaign funds were used, to buy him a nice tie, and I’ll betcha Joe Biden wears more expensive ties than just about anybody I know personally. Maybe clothing expenses aren’t allowed. I don’t know the answer to that. I do know that (a) woman’s clothing is more expensive than men’s; (b)it is harder for women to wear the same thing again and again– there is a certain expectation of variety. HRC is something of an exception to this, because she adopted a kind of “uniform”. Governor Palin seems to have a specific look going on– the jewel-tone jacket and black skirt. Interestingly her look somewhat resembles Cindy McCain, and now we know that they shop at the same stores sometimes. Her look seems more or less consistent with the way she dressed in Alaska, but let’s face it, the shopping in Juneau has gotta be pretty limited. Given the demands of the continious exposure she’s be under I think our great democracy can stand the cost of a few frocks.

  3. JIm H October 22, 2008 at 9:04 am #

    Lipstick on a pig, right?

    Now, I can only dream:


  4. The Humanist October 22, 2008 at 9:06 am #

    Cue the McCain-Moosekiller apologists to scream about Biden’s hair plugs or Obama’s Nike gear…

  5. JIm H October 22, 2008 at 9:07 am #

    When you get to the link, click on the stuff in her office…if only…it…could…be….


  6. The Humanist October 22, 2008 at 9:13 am #

    “the shopping in Juneau has gotta be pretty limited…”

    I don’t know about that…I think the McCain campaign crowds would have gone wild if Gov. Moosekiller and the rest of the Palin brood came out in pelts and furs from animals they personally hunted and killed.

    It worked for Gabby Johnson in Blazing Saddles

  7. JIm H October 22, 2008 at 9:17 am #


  8. The Humanist October 22, 2008 at 9:37 am #

    “Th sheriff is a (BOOOOONG)”


    “Ah, said…th sheriff is a (BOOOOONG)”

    “What did he say?” “I think he said ‘the sheriff is near'”

    Oh, by the way….they lose me after the bunker scene

  9. WNYPMH October 22, 2008 at 9:54 am #

    “Given the demands of the continious exposure she’s be under I think our great democracy can stand the cost of a few frocks.”

    A few frocks = $150K. Even if Biden wore a super expensive tie before he spilled something on it, you’re looking at $150…(without the three extra zeros)

    This is so ridiculous. You just can’t make stuff like this up.

    Maybe she’ll get to keep the wardrobe after the election. It’ll be a nice consolation prize.

  10. The Humanist October 22, 2008 at 10:29 am #

    @Bill Altreuter – I don’t see this as a matter of campaign finance law as much as the mushroom cloud PR impact it will have. It’s going to be of great interest to those voters who were taken in by Gov. Palin’s “hockey mom/regular gal” schtick that she just went on a shopping spree that would make Elton John blush.

    $150,000 in a month? Did they buy the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as well?

    Oh, and I’m sure those good and fine donors to the RNC are reassured that their money is being spent wisely…as it is with any Republican organization.

  11. Snarky Snarkmore McSnarkamaphone October 22, 2008 at 10:32 am #

    our great democracy can stand the cost of a few frocks.

    It’s not the US Taxpayer paying for her clothes, yet, it’s Republican donations. So, if you, as a Republican doner, are cool with it, who am I to say it’s wasted money?

    What’s more important is that it gives lie to her “workaday, anti-elite” persona. Sure she needs clothes, but she could shop at Wal-Mart or Target (or Kohls, or Stein-Mart or even Penny’s or Sears) like 99% of the fools who are going to vote for her, or, she can shop at the nicest store she can afford to (on someone else’s dime, as it happens) like about 1% of her supporters do. She chose the eliteist option.

    Any way you look at it, none of that money should be being spent on dressing Todd, Piper or the rest of Mob Palin, because they’re not running.

  12. Dave A. October 22, 2008 at 10:34 am #

    The problem isn’t the expensive stuff. It’s how it contrasts with the ‘hockey mom’ image she tries to portray. It’s the same as how Edwards’ $400 haircut shot down his ‘common man’ image. (I don’t know about anyone else, but his haircut irritated the hell out of me. I know it’s not a macho guy thing to say, but he needs a different hair style)

    My problem with Palin is she seems to have some sense of entitlement that goes above and beyond the normal benefits of elected office. As my oldest daughter likes to say, she’s “a Heather.” Or a character in one of those cheesy teen movies where the student council president gets her own office, bosses around the principal and has power over the high school budget (and invariably cuts the nerd programs to pay for new cheerleader uniforms).

  13. mike October 22, 2008 at 10:48 am #

    Real soccer(hockey) mom’s shop at the JC Penny’s and the real teens love the Limited Too. Neiman Marcus=needless markup.

  14. Martin Van Buren October 22, 2008 at 11:53 am #

    It costs real money to look that good.

  15. Mike In WNY October 22, 2008 at 1:38 pm #

    Neiman Marcus or a forged birth certificate, which is more significant?

  16. Bill Altreuter October 22, 2008 at 1:44 pm #

    Okay, I looked it up. 2 USC 439b(2)(B)

    (b) Prohibited use
    (1) In general
    A contribution or donation described in subsection (a) of this section shall not be converted by any person to personal use.
    (2) Conversion
    For the purposes of paragraph (1), a contribution or donation shall be considered to be converted to personal use if the contribution or amount is used to fulfill any commitment, obligation, or expense of a person that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s election campaign or individual’s duties as a holder of Federal office, including–
    (A) a home mortgage, rent, or utility payment;
    (B) a clothing purchase;
    (C) a noncampaign-related automobile expense;
    (D) a country club membership;
    (E) a vacation or other noncampaign-related trip;
    (F) a household food item;
    (G) a tuition payment;
    (H) admission to a sporting event, concert, theater, or other form of entertainment not associated with an election campaign; and
    (I) dues, fees, and other payments to a health club or recreational facility.
    (Emphasis added.)

  17. The Humanist October 22, 2008 at 1:49 pm #

    @Bill – well, it’s all moot because the McCain campaign planned all along that all that swag would go to charity, don’t you know…

    “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.


    Wonder how the United Way is going handle Gucci luggage with gold-plated “Sarahhcuda” tags

  18. Buffalopundit October 22, 2008 at 1:56 pm #

    Forged birth certificate?

  19. Jim H October 22, 2008 at 2:01 pm #

    Couldn’t she just bum off Tina Fey until after the election?

  20. Byron October 22, 2008 at 2:30 pm #

    Alan, you have some catching up to do. Even Illuzzory has noticed this obamanation!

  21. Byron October 22, 2008 at 2:36 pm #

    Also for the Freeners – Release the Michelle Obama tapes!

    (Note that attorney Berg has also gotten involved in that – uh – controversy.)

    I need some BP snark – I mean, pundrity – on what all this means.

  22. Jaquandor October 22, 2008 at 2:38 pm #

    Forged birth certificate. Jesus, Alan, you’ve got some whackjobs here who will believe anything. He’s a natural born citizen, folks. I especially enjoy the reasoning at that “Obama Crimes” website — by not showing up to deny these idiotic claims, he’s actually admitting them! Good luck with that, lunatics.

  23. Byron October 22, 2008 at 2:46 pm #

    Jaq-o, you only sneer because you don’t understand the fractional reserve banking system.


  24. WNYPMH October 22, 2008 at 3:54 pm #

    Yep….That one makes Hudson look sane.

  25. The Humanist October 22, 2008 at 3:56 pm #

    Because he has not denied it, I charge Barack Hussein Idi Amin Dada Khaddafi Khomeini Bismarck Lex Luthor Obama with the following:

    – all those mysterious deaths that were previously attributed to the Clintons (the “Clinton Chronicles” have been renamed “Barack’s Bumpoffs”
    – Ace of Base
    – Three Mile Island
    – “Shaft In Africa”
    – Thalidomide
    – Citizen Kane not winning Best Picture of 1941
    – Fatty Arbuckle getting framed
    – Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s shoddy security detail
    – Swing music

  26. Jon Splett October 22, 2008 at 4:05 pm #

    I love the forged birth certificate claim by the McCain side, especially when you consider McCain was born in Panama, something that should technically disqualify him for the presidency.

  27. STEEL October 22, 2008 at 11:34 pm #

    Isn’t Obama really responsible for Watergate and starting the Vietnam War?

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