How real Americans dress

The Republican National Committee has spent more than $150,000 on clothes and accessories for Sarah Palin and her family.

Published October 22, 2008 1:15PM (EDT)

It's not cheap to dress like a real, small-town American. And, apparently, those real-American fashions can be best found at places like Saks Fifth Avenue's New York City and St. Louis branches, Neiman Marcus, Barney's, Bloomingdale's and Atelier.

Politico's Jeanne Cummings did some digging into the details of the Republican National Committee's financial disclosures, and reports that the RNC "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."

Included in the list of expenses Cummings discovered:

  • $49,425.74 spent at Saks Fifth Avenue
  • $75,062.63 spent in one shopping spree at Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, near the site of the Republican convention
  • $9,447.71 spent at Macy's in Minneapolis
  • $295 in apparent expenses for clothing for Palin's youngest son
  • $4,902.45 spent at Atelier, a men's clothing store

In a statement, spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt said, "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." (As a colleague asked upon seeing that statement -- is it possible that the problem with the McCain campaign is that, collectively, they have absolutely no sense of irony? It put out this statement after weeks of talk about ACORN and Bill Ayers?)

These expenses aren't necessarily legal, Cummings reported, writing that they "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."

Obviously, the optics of this aren't great for the McCain campaign or for Palin, especially given the country's economic woes and the work the campaign has done to portray Palin and her family as salt-of-the-earth middle-class types. The $8,672.55 the McCain camp paid last month to a makeup artist who works on McCain himself but is best known for her work on "American Idol" won't help much either.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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