October 23, 2008

Palin's clothes are 'focusing accessories'

There is a distinction in federal election law between contributions made to political parties and individual candidates. It's been reported that AK Gov. Sarah Palin's $150k shopping spree was funded from general Republican Party coffers, as opposed to from Palin-McCain donations, since the latter are disallowed for "personal use."

Even so, the expenditures were apparently disclosed as "campaign accessories," which is a mighty broad category. It seems to me practically inevitable that somebody is going to challenge the use of political contributions to purchase bracelet sleeve jackets and knee-high leather boots for the candidate's personal use.

Which is why GOP lawyers are already preparing their defense:
"There is absolutely nothing wrong with the expenditure, as long as it is 100% focused on the campaign," former Reagan administration attorney James V. Lacy said. "If they need to spend that money in order to keep her clean, clothed and focused because she is on the road 24/7, then that's an appropriate expenditure."
Clothes, you see, also have ineffable properties apart from the mundane. I wouldn't necessarily dispute that suggestion but it stands a good chance of getting lost in the translation to legal argument.

Nevertheless, suggests another lawyer, the receipt of funds from the Party coffers by the campaign might itself be considered a campaign contribution, in which case the purchase of personal items with the said funds would be verboten.
"And if it was a contribution, then it could not have been used for buying clothing," said Lawrence F. Noble, former general counsel to the Federal Elections Commission. And "if it is covered [as a personal-use expense], the argument that we were going to give it to a charity doesn't help."
And Senator John McCain, who has famously taken up a number of questions related to campaign finances, had this to say in 1993:
The use of campaign funds for items which most Americans would consider to be strictly personal reasons, in my view, erodes public confidence and erodes it significantly.
Depends on what your definition of knee-high leather boots is.

2 comments:

gnarlytrombone said...

Lil' Kim chimes in:

Many people tell me my style is terrific
Stupendous, tremendous
...
I rock Versace lamps and saucers
You didn't know I like crack-adile boots and gator suits
...
I spot hits like Spuds MacKenzie, I'm Leona Hemsley
Taxes is gettin' axes
It's essential for the presidential, certified testicles
Get sprayed forty decibels, the king and I
All you need in this world, I'm a bad girl

3rd Way said...

Palin is a "focusing accessory"

Eve chimes in...

Worked hard. . . I deserve the best in life
She stay clean. . . I deserve to be dressed up right
She spits mean. . . God definitely blessed her right
We can all buy diamonds and furs nothing to tell
We can all buy the mall with nothing to sell
Your career's dead wrong, change your style, wear a vail