For Immediate Release
Naomi Seligman 202.408.5565
CREW Files FEC Complaint Agaisnt Gov. Palin and RNC for Violating Campaign Finance Law by Purchasing $150,000 Wardrobe
WASHINGTON - Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint against vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, the Republican National Committee (RNC) and several other political operatives associated with the RNC, for improperly spending $150,000 on clothing for Palin and her family, in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA).
According to news reports, the clothing and accessories purchases for Palin and her family included a whopping $49,425 spent at Saks Fifth Avenue, and a $75,062 spending spree at Neiman Marcus.
These shopping excursions violate campaign finance law.
FECA specifically prohibits a candidate for federal office from converting campaign funds to personal use. FEC regulations make clear that the prohibition applies to clothing purchases, such as those made for the Palin family.
The RNC implicitly admitted that the clothing was purchased with campaign funds by stating that it will be donated to charity after the campaign. The RNC also relies on this prospective contribution to explain why the personal use prohibition is not applicable as FEC regulations provide that donations by candidates to charitable organizations are not for personal use. It does not appear, however, that this exception would apply to the clothing worn by Palin's family, even if it does apply to her own.
Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, said today, "It is ridiculous that RNC would spend $150,000 to outfit a vice presidential nominee and her family at any time, but it is more outrageous given the dire financial straights of so many Americans and the state of our economy. As if that isn't bad enough, the expenditures violate campaign finance law. The FEC should investigate immediately."
Sloan continued, "If the RNC had an extra $150,000 to throw around, there were better alternatives than pricey designer clothes. For example, $150,000 could fund three Alaska teachers' yearly salaries; library books for the Juneau, Alaska School district for nearly two years; health care premiums for 31 working Americans or 12 families; flu vaccinations for just over 6000 people, or pay the heating bills for 131 low-income households this winter."