Archive for the ‘Sarah Palin Shopping Spree’ Category

Palin faces new ethics complaint over kids’ travel
By RACHEL D’ORO – 18 hours ago

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A new ethics complaint has been filed against Sarah Palin, accusing the Alaska governor of abusing her power by charging the state when her children traveled with her.

The complaint alleges that the Republican vice presidential nominee used her official position as governor for personal gain, violating a statute of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act. It follows a report by The Associated Press last week that Palin charged the state more than $21,000 for her three daughters’ commercial flights, including events where they weren’t invited, and later ordered their expense forms amended to specify official state business.

In some cases, Palin also has charged the state for hotel rooms for the girls.

The complaint released Wednesday says Palin charged the travel costs for events her children were not invited to and where they served in no legitimate state purpose or business.

“Governor Palin intentionally secured unwarranted benefits for family members, improperly used state property to benefit her personal and financial interests, and illegally altered documents that were the subject of a Public Records request,” the complaint states.

Earlier this month, a legislative report found Palin violated state ethics laws when she fired her public safety commissioner. The state’s Personnel Board also has hired an independent counsel for a similar investigation.

Under Alaska law, it is up to the Personnel Board to decide whether Palin violated state law. The attorney general’s office didn’t return messages seeking comment Wednesday, but has previously said the possible penalties in the first Personnel Board investigation could carry a possible fine of up to $5,000.

The latest complaint was filed by Frank Gwartney, an Anchorage Democrat who supports Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama. Gwartney, 60, said he is fed up with “all the corruption” among Alaska’s elected officials, including Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, who was convicted this week on federal corruption charges.

“Sarah ran on this very self righteous campaign on ethics and anti-corruption,” Gwartney told the AP. “She is no different from the others.”

Palin’s attorney, Thomas Van Flein, said he was not aware of the complaint and could not comment.

Palin spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said she can’t comment specifically on the complaint because it is confidential. But she said generally the first family is expected to participate in community activities across Alaska and represents the state on travels.

“We receive hundreds of invitations for the governor each month, and a majority of them request the first family participate,” Leighow said. “The Palin children can only participate in a fraction of the events.”

Responding to the travel issue, Palin told Fox News last week that every Alaska governor has traveled with family when it’s a first family function. “And it’s always been charged to the state,” she said. “That’s part of the job.”

The state already is reviewing nearly $17,000 in per diem payments to Palin for 312 nights she slept at her home in Wasilla, about an hour’s drive from her satellite office in Anchorage.

In the complaint, Gwartney asks that the matter be investigated by the Alaska Personnel Board — a three-member panel is appointed by the governor.

The ethics travel grievance was first reported by CBS News.


Read Full Post »

Palin Drops $32,800 on Hair and Makeup Over Two Weeks
October 24, 2008 5:48 PM

ABC News’ Jennifer Parker reports: Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s traveling makeup artist was the highest paid individual in John McCain’s campaign over the first two weeks of October.

Amy Strozzi was paid $22,800 for her work as Palin’s makeup artist for the first half of October, according to documents filed Thursday by the McCain campaign with the Federal Election Commission.

Palin’s traveling hair stylist Angela Lew, the fourth highest paid individual during that time, was paid $10,000 over two weeks in October for what the campaign called “communications consulting.” 

The second and third highest paid individuals in the first two weeks of October were Randy Scheunemann, McCain’s chief foreign policy adviser at $12,500, and Nicolle Wallace, McCain’s senior communications staffer at $12,000.

Strozzi and Lew have traveled full-time with the campaign since early September. They do hair and makeup for Palin for all her events and media interviews.

Palin has come under scrutiny this week when it was disclosed the Republican National Committee spent $150,000 on her wardrobe and makeup at high-end department stores like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Asked about the purchases in an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Palin said the family shops frugally.

“That is not who we are,” Palin argued. “That whole thing is just, bad!” she said. “Oh, if people only knew how frugal we are.”

Palin argued the clothes were not worth $150,000 and were bought for the Republican National Convention. She said the pricey clothes she has worn on the campaign trail this fall will be given back to the RNC, sent to charity, or auctioned off.

Read Full Post »

Palin’s Wardrobe Saga Exposes McCain’s Flaws: Margaret Carlson
Commentary by Margaret Carlson

Oct. 23 (Bloomberg) — At this point, criticizing Sarah Palin is like beating a dead moose. But who can resist this week’s stories of her “wardrobe of the stars” spending spree and taxpayer-funded travel?

They’re the latest in a stream of revelations that have firmly established Palin as the worst vice presidential choice, if not in history, at least in living memory. In picking her, John McCain lost two vital arguments: experience, because she doesn’t have any, and judgment, because he didn’t show any.

The latest high heel to drop might look like small potatoes were it not for all the earlier revelations.

In recently filed expenditure reports, we learn that the Republican National Committee revealed spending more than $150,000 at Neiman Marcus and Saks on a campaign makeover for the supposed Wal-Mart Mom.

That’s closer to a celebutante than to anything Joe the Plumber — or Mrs. Joe — could imagine. Who knew it cost this much to dress like a populist? At the very moment Palin was celebrating herself as “your average hockey mom” in her convention speech, she was wearing a $2,500 silk jacket by Valentino.

Imagine if she were running with the elites instead of against them? For those opening their quarterly pension-fund statements, it’s a painful reminder that Republican headquarters will always be Wall Street not Main.

Still, shouldn’t a woman catch a break here, having a bigger burden to look good 24/7? Too much attention to vanity is an equal-opportunity destroyer no matter who pays. But for his affair with a staffer, John Edwards would largely be remembered for his $400 haircut. Poor Al Gore never took the bad advice he got to wear earth tones, but he never heard the end of it.

Outdoing Paris

Palin parading around like a Project Runway extra will take far less heat even though the bill she sent the committee makes Paris Hilton look like a Target shopper. With her $1.2 million in assets and six-figure salary, Palin could have footed the bill for whatever extreme makeover she felt was in order.

It’s not a victimless crime. That $150,000 comes from funds that a respected incumbent like New Hampshire Republican Senator John Sununu — struggling not to be dragged down by the McCain- Palin ticket — desperately needs.

Earlier it came out that Palin had charged the government for $17,000 in per-diem payments for 300 days she spent in her own house. Now we find she charged the state for trips that resemble vacations if not junkets.

`Official Business’

One trip with her children on “official business” coincided with the opening day of her husband’s Iron Dog snowmobile race. Another was to a conference in New York lasting five hours for which Palin billed Alaska for airfare and five days in a hotel on Central Park for her and her daughter, Bristol. For airfare alone, Palin charged the state $21,012 for her daughters while in office.

Knowing this would look embarrassing, Palin amended her reports to make it seem as if her family’s presence was required. In fact, event organizers were surprised and had to scramble to accommodate her family.

The latest information on Palin adds to the emerging portrait of someone whose carefully cultivated image is at odds with the way she lives. Her brief tenure reveals a self-dealer who fires qualified enemies (Troopergate, her legislative director), hires unqualified friends (naming a former schoolmate who “likes cows” head of agriculture), and who went after the good old boys for cutting ethical corners she’d later cut herself.

Reality Bites

McCain may have believed that if he didn’t have time to vet her neither would anyone else. But reality caught up.

In the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released this week, voters cited the choice of Palin as their top concern ahead of McCain’s continuing President George W. Bush‘s policies.

A stunning 55 percent now think her unqualified to be president. Even as more people find her unsuited to the job, she’s enlarging it. She says that as vice president her duties would include being “in charge of the U.S. Senate.” The RNC should have spent its money for a tutorial on the Constitution.

In choosing Palin, McCain ignored the old rule to pander to your base in the primary and break their hearts in the general election. Palin was a gift to the already committed. A hunter- gatherer from the last frontier with a large family and knockout good looks, she even turned an out-of-wedlock pregnancy that could have put off evangelicals as an example of lax childrearing or Hollywood ethics into a story of teenagers in love doing the right thing.

Still Transfixed

Even as her negatives rise, the “real American” parts of the country are still transfixed. She delivered a boffo red-meat speech with a smile at the convention, then winked and hammed her way through the vice presidential debate. What she does well is hardly enough to compensate for what she does poorly.

In the short run, she made McCain happier than he’d been in months and served to remind people of his maverick side. But in the end his impulsive choice proved more reminiscent of the impetuous young McCain who hated authority, amassed demerits at the Naval Academy and ticked off colleagues as a grandstanding hothead.

The errors we make that hurt the most are the unforced ones. Palin cost McCain his standing with many Republicans and lost him the endorsement of his friend, Colin Powell, the man he called his “favorite living hero.” On “Meet the Press” last Sunday, Powell said Palin raised doubts about McCain. “I don’t believe she’s ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president.”

For all the experience 72 years has brought McCain, it hasn’t brought him good judgment. We didn’t know that before Palin. We know it now.

(Margaret Carlson, author of “Anyone Can Grow Up: How George Bush and I Made It to the White House” and former White House correspondent for Time magazine, is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.)

Read Full Post »

GOP spent $150,000 in donations on Palin’s look
By JIM KUHNHENN – 1 hour ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — When the Republican Party decided to coordinate expenses with John McCain’s presidential campaign, who knew it would be color coordinated.

The Republican National Committee spent about $150,000 on clothing, hair styling, makeup and other “campaign accessories” in September for the McCain campaign after Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin joined the ticket as his running mate.

The McCain campaign now says the clothing will go to a “charitable purpose” after the campaign.

The expenses include $75,062 spent at Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis and $41,850 in St. Louis in early September. The committee also reported spending $4,100 for makeup and hair consulting. The expenses were first reported by Politico.com.

The RNC also spent $4,902 at Atelier, a stylish men’s clothing store in New York. Other purchases included a $92 romper and matching hat with ears for Palin’s baby, Trig, at Pacifier, a baby store in Minneapolis.

Wing Witthuhn, who owns the store with her husband, said a young staffer with an RNC credit card purchased the clothes during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. Trig wore the romper the night Palin addressed the convention.

“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 McCain spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt, who has been traveling with Palin. “It was always the intent that the clothing go to a charitable purpose after the campaign.”

In 2007, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards sparked Internet derision and jokes from late-night TV comics after his campaign for the party’s nomination paid for two $400 haircuts by a stylist from Beverly Hills, Calif. His campaign said the bill was paid by the campaign by mistake and that Edwards would reimburse the campaign.

The RNC has been helping the McCain campaign financially now that McCain is locked into spending only $84 million for the fall campaign under his agreement to accept public financing. Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, chose not to participate in the public system and raised a whopping $150 million in September.

The RNC is allowed to spend up to $19 million in “coordinated expenses” with the campaign. In September, it spent a a total of $4.4 million. The clothing and styling was part of that, but most was spent on postage for campaign mailings.

So why did the RNC and not McCain’s committee pay for the accessories?

The 2002 campaign finance law that bears McCain’s name specifically barred any funds that “are donated for the purpose of supporting the activities of a federal or state office holder” from being used for personal expenses including clothing. A quirk in the law does not specifically mention party committees, however.

That doesn’t mean the expenditure would not be subject to a challenge before the Federal Election Commission.

Lawrence M. Noble, former general counsel at the FEC, noted that as a coordinated party expense, the clothing purchase could be considered a contribution to the campaign.

“And if it was a contribution, then it could not have been used for buying clothing,” Noble said. “I don’t know how the FEC would come out on that question.”

“If it is covered (as a personal use expense), the argument that we were going to give it to a charity doesn’t help,” he added.

Fifteen years ago, McCain himself complained that restrictions on political contributions for personal use at that time were too broad and he wrote an amendment to tighten the law.

“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,” he said on the Senate floor in May 1993.

Palin’s aides back charging state for kid’s travel

Read Full Post »