RNC/Palin Expenditures FollowUp

Following up on last night's Sarah Palin clothing expenditure post, The Atlantic today reveals that Sarah Palin's personal shopper is Jeff Larson.

Larson is the Karl Rove protégé who’s a principal in the robocalling firm of FLS Connect (the “FLS” stands for Tony Feather, Jeff Larson, and Tom Syndhorst, all veteran Republican political operatives). Larson’s firm is the same one that launched the scurrilous robocalls against John McCain in 2000, and that McCain has now hired to make robocalls connecting Barack Obama to Bill Ayers. He’s also well known in Minnesota for leasing his basement apartment at a steeply discounted rate to embattled Republican Senator Norm Coleman. Evidently, Larson also has quite the eye for women’s fashion.

Here's the actual schedule showing the payments the RNC made for Sarah Palin and her family during September. The form that's required to be filed is a Schedule F. The forms for all candidates and parties are available at the FEC website. [More...]

There's not just Gov. Palin's clothes, there's the $98.00 romper for baby Trig from the baby store Pacifier in Gaviidae Common, Minneapolis, already noted by the Minneapolis Star last month.

In addition to the makeup artists, makeup, clothes, etc, there's the stylists. They not only get their fees, but a per diem and expenses, down to the $30 baggage fees charged by the airlines and their meals and taxis to and from the airport and for car services.

The amount spent on postage is simply enormous. HuffPo has a more on the makeup expenditures.

ABC reports even if the clothes are returned, Palin may have to pay income tax on them.

Palin's claim that the pricey duds belong to the RNC and she's just "borrowing" them and will return them later, reminds him, he says, of some of the issues going on in the prosecution of Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska. (Some of the issues, he specified, not the allegations of criminality.)

"This is exactly the issue with the Stevens case," he said. "When you loan something to someone can you call it a 'loan' if, upon its return, it has no practical value?

"The consensus view is she would have to count the wardrobe as income at least in the amount of the fair value of the rental of the wardrobe," he said.

I wonder if one test would be whether the clothes were altered to fit her. In that case, wouldn't their fair market value as to anyone else be diminished?

ABC also reports the expenditures are perfectly legal.

Thanks to a loophole in federal law the answer, experts say, is yes. Handily, the loophole was codified into law by the landmark campaign finance law passed by her ticketmate, Sen. John McCain.

It would be illegal for the McCain-Palin campaign to buy a new wardrobe for Palin and her husband, say campaign finance lawyers contacted by ABCNews.com. But the law is silent on whether such purchases can be made by the Republican National Committee (RNC).

There's also the voice coach, billed as a "Get Out Your Vote" expense.

I think this photo of Piper Palin carrying a Louis Vitton bag is my favorite.

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    Jeralyn (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by Steve M on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 03:49:42 PM EST
    You always look so nice when I see you on TV.  How do you ever manage to do it for less than $150,000??

    $150,000 for clothes (none / 0) (#11)
    by Daniel on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 04:27:30 PM EST
    I like nice clothes. I am almost 59, and I do believe if you added up the cost of all the clothes I have gotten in my entire life, it would not close to $150,000. It's amazing that this RUBE from Alaska can't look good for less than that. And almost $14,000 for make up person?

    Her wardrobe cost more than my house. (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by scribe on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 04:29:42 PM EST
    Even after the home equity loans.

    Cost of house.... (none / 0) (#15)
    by vml68 on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 04:33:06 PM EST
    I am guessing you don't live in the NY/NJ area or CA.

    I don't even think you could get an (none / 0) (#17)
    by nycstray on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 04:35:57 PM EST
    apt for that in my 'hood . . . .

    While I won't tell you where I live, (5.00 / 0) (#21)
    by scribe on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 04:51:41 PM EST
    I will say that, if you look at the real estate listings in battleground places like Western Pennsylvania (even Pittsburgh) and rural Virginia, you can find scads of nice, sturdy, well-built, single-family homes on detached lots in nice neighborhoods for under $150,000.

    Sometimes well under $150,000.

    Of course, that's still "a lot" when one considers the relative dearth of high-paying jobs for people who live in those houses.  


    No kidding.......... (none / 0) (#31)
    by vml68 on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 05:51:55 PM EST
    I pay more in rent for my apartment than my friends pay for their mortgages on their 3000sqft McMansions in the midwest.

    My wardrobe is at least $100k (2.00 / 0) (#33)
    by angie on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 07:05:42 PM EST
    including shoes and bags. So what? I don't wear cheap shoes. The fact is this is only an "issue" (not a distraction) because Palin is a woman. Do you really think Obama's suit cost anything less then $1500 a pop? It is utterly ridiculous that people are even discussing this. Shame on all of you.

    nice try at the "red herring" angie. (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by cpinva on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 07:32:01 PM EST
    My wardrobe is at least $100k

    the difference is that, unlike you (i assume), gov. palin didn't pay for her new wardrobe, a non-profit organization did, with donated funds.

    as to sen. obama's suits, again, absent some evidence to the contrary, he paid for them out of his personal funds, not his campaign's. if it's shown that his campaign did pay for them, well then that would be a legitimate issue for discussion.

    gov. palin's gender has nothing to do with this at all.

    ok, i'll bite, what the heck is a $98 romper? does it have moving parts?


    And if she had worn her own clothes (none / 0) (#39)
    by angie on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 07:42:33 PM EST
    which probably come from JC Penney would we be attacking her for not looking "VicePresidential" enough? This is a total non-issue and it is shameful that people are pretending it is anything but.

    " what the heck is a $98 romper?" (none / 0) (#54)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Oct 23, 2008 at 01:08:49 PM EST
    Infant clothing. Supposedly what he wore on stage at the RNC. I guess there are those that think he should have been dressed only in a poopy diaper.

    Good for you Angie (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by DFLer on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 07:32:37 PM EST
    of course your wardrobe cost is twice most American's average income. Just saying...that's what galls the great un-washed (and un-coteried)

    the shame is on the "frugal" one (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by erika on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 08:38:06 PM EST
    It wouldn't be such a big deal if she didn't portray herself as frugal, and if there weren't already questions about her spending decisions on the tax payers dime, in Alaska.

    Campbell Brown agrees with you. (none / 0) (#34)
    by oculus on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 07:23:51 PM EST
    She notes noone comments on Obama's $1500 suits or McCain's $500 shoes.  She also sd. when she wears a "bad" outfit on air she gets lots of e mails.

    Yawn, (5.00 / 0) (#2)
    by bocajeff on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 03:54:13 PM EST
    You're beating a dead horse. Palin is bad, bad, bad...

    This reminds me of the story of the man who was on a plane that was heading straight for a mountain and certain death and he was complaining that someone had already done the crossword puzzle in the airline magazine.

    then feel free (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 04:03:30 PM EST
    to scroll on by.

    Um the post is (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by mg7505 on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 07:29:00 PM EST
    largely about who's doing Palin's shopping -- and I think it's hilarious that it's Jeff Larson. The only funnier scenario would be Karl Rove himself calling up Palin to rave about the knee-high pencil-heeled mooseleather boots he just tried on for her. Note: if SNL steals that idea for a sketch, I am officially suing them (and going to NYC to get Tina Fey's autograph).

    Really (none / 0) (#30)
    by ks on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 05:34:02 PM EST
    The horse is so long dead it's been processed into dog food already.  The...um..."obsession" over Palin from some quarters is beyond parody at this point.  

    Charity? (5.00 / 0) (#3)
    by WS on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 03:55:49 PM EST
    In the meantime the RNC says that the clothing is its property and after the campaign it will be returned to them and donated to charity, which it expects will eliminate any questions of gift restrictions or taxes.

    I wonder what type of charity the RNC will give the clothes too?  Friends of Sarah Palin 2012?  

    Whoever it is, (none / 0) (#36)
    by mg7505 on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 07:30:08 PM EST
    they're going to look really nice. Well, much nicer than she does. I can't imagine what the GOP's definition of "charity" is ... maybe the John Birch Society? shudder

    This is normal (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by nycstray on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 03:59:08 PM EST
    They not only get their fees, but a per diem and expenses, down to the $30 baggage fees charged by the airlines and their meals and taxis to and from the airport and for car services.

    And yes, those extra bag fees would go to my client! I wouldn't be carrying extra bags (or even traveling) if it wasn't for them. I should have charged extra every time we were served chicken and veggie dishes on set, Oy.

    If only you knew how much stuff (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by scribe on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 04:26:51 PM EST
    a makeup artist or stylist has to drag along.  A footlocker of equipment is a "light" load.

    The voice coach is profiled in the NYT Magazine article on McCain and his Campaign's Six Narratives, which Emptywheel does her usual fine job of dissecting over at her place.  In the hotel bar, post Palin's speech to the RNC:

    A commotion erupted, followed by outright hysteria. It was 11:45, and the Palins had entered the bar. Dozens of staff members and delegates flocked to the governor, cellphone cameras outstretched. Todd and Sarah Palin posed, shook hands and extended their gracious appreciation for 15 minutes. Then, no doubt realizing that they would never be able to enjoy a drink in peace, they withdrew for the evening, again to raucous applause.

    While all of this was going on, an elegant middle-aged woman sat alone at the far end of the bar. She wore beige slacks and a red sweater, and she picked at a salad while talking incessantly on her cellphone. But for the McCain/Palin button affixed to her collar and the brief moment that Tucker Eskew, Palin's new counselor, spoke into her ear, she seemed acutely disconnected from the jubilation swelling around her.

    In fact, the woman was here for a reason. Her name was Priscilla Shanks, a New York-based stage and screen actress of middling success who had found a lucrative second career as a voice coach. Shanks's work with Sarah Palin was as evident as it was unseen. Gone, by the evening of her convention speech, was the squeaky register of Palin's exclamations. Gone (at least for the moment) was the Bushian pronunciation of "nuclear" as "nook-you-ler." Present for the first time was a leisurely, even playful cadence that signaled Sarah Palin's inevitability on this grand stage.

    As you no doubt suspected, even Palin's persona is a confection of consultancy with little if any reality behind it.


    I do know (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by nycstray on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 04:34:30 PM EST
    I used to style, and then hired them along with MU, photographers etc :) Hmmm, maybe that's why I like to travel light, lol!~

    A friend of a friend does makeup (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by scribe on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 04:53:29 PM EST
    professionally (movies, TV) and I've seen the mountains of stuff needed.  It's mind-boggling how much, and it's all in tiny little bottles, tubes and packages.  



    Weren't we begging Obama (none / 0) (#18)
    by Fabian on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 04:36:30 PM EST
    to get a voice coach to get the dithering ums, ers and other non-words out of his speech?

    If I was going to be before the public in nationally covered events for months at a time, I would DEFINITELY go for a full consultation - hair, speech, clothes, make-up, everything.

    How many of us are up to that kind of scrutiny?  How many of us our competing for the very top position in our field?

    It's to be expected, even encouraged.


    ya (5.00 / 0) (#5)
    by connecticut yankee on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 04:03:01 PM EST
    I love the slideshow on Huffpo showing her different outfits, shoes, etc.  But the killer image is "7 year old Piper carries a Louis Vuitton bag".

    Any time the story is Palin's clothes, it's not about a John McCain comeback.  It's burning media oxygen at just the right time.

    Piper is a really beautiful child. (none / 0) (#49)
    by hairspray on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 11:47:00 PM EST
    I think back (5.00 / 0) (#22)
    by alsace on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 04:52:09 PM EST
    to when I was preparing to send a few bucks to Edwards' campaign.  Then he charged his $400 haircut to his campaign and I realized my donation wouldn't even cover a sideburn trim.  I can only imagine what a small donor to the GOP (if they have small donors) must think about this.

    Speaking of small donors.... (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by vml68 on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 08:18:51 PM EST
    This past month has been the worst in terms of the economy (foreclosures, layoffs, bankruptcies, forced mergers, bailouts, the market tanking and taking everyone's 401K down the tubes).
    Considering the Democratic party is the party of the little people how did Obama manage to make it the best fundraising month ever?

    For me.... (5.00 / 2) (#43)
    by Oje on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 08:09:09 PM EST
    Only one way to look at this non-story. Once again, a compulsive obsession with the "unnatural" presence of non-white, non-male, and working-class-origin politicians.

    Make-up and clothing, oh my!

    If you regard her as a country-bumpkin with no preparation or right to be on the national stage, then how do you decry the need to buy her new wardrobe commensurate with the stage? The need, the expense, is duly placed on the campaign here.

    Wardrobes? So we lefties regard this kind of "journalism" as a revealing look into the character of a candidate now: Expensive Wardrobe Goes Against McCain-Palin Story Line.

    I see the media has not changed. The formerly A-list left blogs, well... It is no wonder that the Daily Howler is a threatening presence to the new left authoritarians.

    media desperate for news... (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by Yotin on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 08:23:37 PM EST
    even non-worthy ones. At least, that's how it looks like with the media's non-questioning nor attention to the cost of Obama's massive stage and for-show foreign trips.

    They spelled (none / 0) (#7)
    by eric on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 04:08:22 PM EST
    Neiman Marcus wrong.  "Neimon Marcus".

    Also, Jeff Larson is listed as 7900 Hudson Blvd, Oakdale, DC 55128.  Pretty sure that should be Minnesota, not DC.  It is actually just down the road from where I work.  I can't think of what is even there, it is basically a frontage road on I94.  Larson's robocall outfit must be down there.

    Interestingly, Michelle Bachman's (Crazy - MN) husband's office is about a mile down the road from Jeff Larson's address.

    Hey - that misspelling is enough (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by scribe on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 04:27:46 PM EST
    to disqualify Mr. Marcus from voting.

    If that's really his name....


    More fun (none / 0) (#8)
    by eric on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 04:12:35 PM EST
    $17.30 for "office supplies" from Zelo.  Heh, Zelo is an upper end restaurant with a nice bar.  For $17.30 I am sure they got approximately 2 paperclips, up, with olives.

    Oy (none / 0) (#9)
    by MTSINAIMAMA on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 04:25:14 PM EST
    And they're going to rip that Louis Vuiton bag out of Piper's hand to give to charity? Give me a break!!

    I'm confused (none / 0) (#14)
    by Maggie Mae on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 04:29:59 PM EST
    Why are the payments listed for Larson, immediately followed by payments to stores, the same exact amounts?

    For example:  

    On September 10, 2008  Larson was paid $789.72 for, what is listed as, Campaign Accessories.  The next listing is for a payment made to Barney's of New York, on the same day, for the exact same amount, for the exact same reason.

    Is this because they paid Larson first and then he paid Barney's?  Is it to show the money trail?  I'm just trying to make sense of the schedule.  I know nothing of how this all works.

    Thanks in advance.

    Larson prob presented receipts (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by nycstray on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 04:43:20 PM EST
    and then received pay? Back when I did it, you paid certain things out of pocket. If it was a big job, I would get upfront expenses, but you still needed the credit/$$$ to do the job. I'm not sure how my clients organized their reports, but I always broke out anything I paid out by receipt etc since the job pay and expenses were 2 different payments when I hired crew. There's also the tax issues etc. Anyone you hire who makes over x amount of $$ you need to send form whatever to the irs/them etc. which is sep from the Barney's pay.

    Thank you (none / 0) (#20)
    by Maggie Mae on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 04:48:20 PM EST
    It all makes sense now.

    I'd hate to be the person who has to keep all this straight.


    It's a P.I.A. :) (none / 0) (#24)
    by nycstray on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 04:55:06 PM EST
    For some reason I was much better at it than I was with my own budget/money, lol!~

    Re Piper Palin. I'll assume (none / 0) (#25)
    by oculus on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 05:05:04 PM EST
    she is carrying that bag for someone else or someone older than she is bought it from a sidewalk vendor.

    Yes, I think it's a Louis Vittin bag. (none / 0) (#53)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Oct 23, 2008 at 01:01:53 PM EST
    For Sarah, for Halloween, here are some (none / 0) (#26)
    by Blowback on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 05:09:32 PM EST
    great duds from our old friend from Aspen, Frankie Steinz! (Everybody in Aspen in the 80's knows Frankie.)


    Calling Sara Palin. Maybe you can dress up as "The President" for tricks & treats! I know Frankie can fit you for much less than $50,000. How does half price sound, $75,000?

    trick or treat

    $150,000, not $50,000 (none / 0) (#27)
    by Blowback on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 05:18:52 PM EST
    Frankie Steinz (none / 0) (#28)
    by Blowback on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 05:21:59 PM EST
    I'm thinking of spending Halloween at (none / 0) (#50)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Oct 23, 2008 at 01:29:59 AM EST
    Owl Farm -- Anita's coming in to help get out the vote  efforts through Election Day. Maybe I'll go as Sarah Palin! No...I couldn't, I'd have a lousy night.

    where's the link I try to post, Jeri? (none / 0) (#29)
    by Blowback on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 05:22:36 PM EST

    There should be a link button at the top (none / 0) (#51)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Oct 23, 2008 at 01:32:44 AM EST
    of your comment box. In your comment, type Frankie Steinz, highlight it and then click the button. A box will come up for you to type the url in -- it's that simple.

    Frankie Stenz

    You can even buy costumes on line, they probably fedex.


    fs (none / 0) (#56)
    by Blowback on Thu Oct 23, 2008 at 11:40:05 PM EST
    The fashion critic for The (none / 0) (#32)
    by oculus on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 06:38:11 PM EST
    Scotsman says Palin dresses as if from a past era of women's business attire.  Correct, I think, as to the "power" red suits.  But, who relies on the Scots for fashion advice?

    The Scotsman

    true enough. (none / 0) (#40)
    by cpinva on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 07:43:53 PM EST
    But, who relies on the Scots for fashion advice?

    of course, i do recall kilts being a real huge fashion hit back in the 70's. the 1770's, that is. lol

    actually, as i think about it, as "thrifty" (read: cheap) as the scots are, they could have probably outfitted the entire palin clan for a heck of a lot less than 150k. hook them up with a jewish clothier (they can get it for you wholesale!), between them, i'm guessing probably 3-400 bucks, 650 tops.

    just kidding!


    I restrained my self this summer from (none / 0) (#42)
    by oculus on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 07:48:19 PM EST
    asking a woman seated in front of me at a classical music concert if the plaid suit she was wearing was the plaid of her clan.  The colors were orange, light brown, and a kind of ivory.  Not flattering.

    what's missing in all of the analysis (none / 0) (#48)
    by white n az on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 10:29:00 PM EST
    with the LA Times having reporters doing online shopping at Nieman Marcus to see what buy for $75,000 and all of the snark that is so eminently obvious (shop baby shop) or I wonder what she is going to wear to her deposition on Friday...

    Doesn't this whole story obliterate the Republicans claim that they will spend your money judiciously?

    I mean how does McCain say that he is going to cut wasteful spending when he's got his team going out shopping spending $150,000 on clothes for his running mate and keep a straight face?

    well yeah, (none / 0) (#52)
    by cpinva on Thu Oct 23, 2008 at 07:23:55 AM EST
    there is that.

    Doesn't this whole story obliterate the Republicans claim that they will spend your money judiciously?

    frankly, i don't have a problem with the hair/makeup stylist expenditures, for tv and public appearances. that strikes me as a reasonable, "ordinary & necessary" expense of the campaign (how you look under the glare of kleig lites is a whole lot different than under normal light). the voice coach even qualifies, in my professional opinion.

    where i think the average person is going to have some difficulty is with the "hockey mom" being outfitted by such high-end clothiers, on donor funds. perhaps the donors were aware of this, when they gave the money. honestly, i never realized they were using campaign funds for this type of expenditure, but that's just me.

    maybe she'd have done better, public perception wise, wearing those JC Penney clothes. It would have meshed with the image they've crafted for her.

    as it is, she, and they, just come off looking like hypocrites.