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Republicans spent $150,000 of donations on Palin's wardrobe

Wednesday 22 October 2008 16:54 BST

John McCain's presidential campaign said thousands of dollars worth of clothing purchased by the Republican Party for running mate Sarah Palin will go to a "charitable purpose" after the campaign.

The Republican National Committee spent about $150,000 on clothing, hair styling, makeup and other "campaign accessories" in September for the McCain campaign after Palin, the governor of Alaska, joined the ticket.

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

"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, California. 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 $84m for the autumn 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 $150m in September.

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

Federal campaign finance law prohibits the use of campaign funds for personal use, but it defines personal use as any expense "that would exist irrespective of the candidate's campaign or duties as a federal officeholder."

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