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Sarah Palin went on some kind of RNC-financed shopping spree, Politico says

October 21, 2008 | 10:22 pm

If there's one thing political journalists love, it's a whiff of hypocrisy.

That's why John Edwards, who campaigned for the Democratic nomination as a champion of the lower class, got so much flak when it was revealed that he favors $400 hair cuts.

Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin giving her acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in St Paul

And it's why journalists were unforgiving when John McCain, who claims he is the candidate to solve the nation's housing crisis, had a hard time remembering exactly how many homes he and his wife own.

So we expect the media will revel in this news, which Politico's Jeanne Cummings reported today: It appears that the Republican National Committee has shelled out more than $150,000 on clothing and accessories for vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family.

The spending spree included a $75,062.63 visit to Neiman Marcus and two stops at Saks Fifth Avenue that totaled $49,425.74, according to Cummings.

Doesn't sound like "just your average hockey mom." In fact, the ...

... average American spends only about $1,874 a year on clothing and services, according to the U.S. Department of Labor

The Ticket tracked down the RNC's financial disclosure records for September and October and confirmed that the RNC did indeed charge the purchases that Cummings cites (they were billed as “campaign accessories").

They include purchases made at Bloomingdale’s ($5,102.71), Barney’s ($789.72), a men's boutique called Atelier ($4,902.45) and at two baby clothing and accessory stores.

It's unclear whether all of the charges were related to Palin (e-mails sent to the McCain-Palin campaign about the nature of the charges were not returned Tuesday night), but some of them almost certainly were.

Newsweek reported in September that a campaign aide took Todd Palin shopping at a Saks Fifth Avenue, where he bought a new suit to wear to the Republican National Convention. And the New York Post reported that Palin gave her big speech in St. Paul in a $2,500 jacket designed by Valentino Garavani and also purchased from Saks.

It is legal for campaigns to buy clothes for their candidates, but it is unusual. Most candidates running for office pay for their own clothing. Politico's Cummings reports that a review of similar records for the campaign of Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee revealed no similar spending.

Meanwhile, in other Palin spending news, the Associated Press reported today that as governor of Alaksa she mischarged the state for her children's travels.

Palin often took her children along while traveling, the AP reports, including to events where they were not invited. The AP says Palin's office later amended expense reports to specify that they were on official business. Here is an excerpt:

The charges included costs for hotel and commercial flights for three daughters to join Palin to watch their father in a snowmobile race, and a trip to New York, where the governor attended a five-hour conference and stayed with 17-year-old Bristol for five days and four nights in a luxury hotel.

In all, Palin has charged the state $21,012 for her three daughters' 64 one-way and 12 round-trip commercial flights since she took office in December 2006. In some other cases, she has charged the state for hotel rooms for the girls.

— Kate Linthicum

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Photo credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

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