- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin wasn’t the only political candidate to go on a donor-funded shopping spree this election season.

At least five other federal candidates also spent campaign money on their wardrobes, according to a Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint filed Tuesday by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

For instance, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, California Democrat, spent $145 at Lua Dao fabric store in Westminster, Calif., and reimbursed herself another $188 for “meeting clothing.”

The campaign behind Bill Dew, a Republican who ran in the 2nd District of Utah, paid $1,089 to the Men’s Wearhouse for “campaign clothing for [the] candidate,” according to an FEC report.

New Jersey Democrat Rep. Robert E. Andrews’ campaign dropped $952 for clothes at the Ithaca, N.Y., men’s store Benjamin Peters, department store Bon-Ton and discount store Target.

The Federal Election Campaign Act bans candidates from spending campaign money on themselves or others, specifically citing business clothing as an illegal purchase.

This fall, the Republican National Committee spent a now-infamous $150,000 at stores such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, outfitting the Republican vice-presidential candidate and her family. Mrs. Palin later said she never requested the clothes, and the RNC said all of it would be donated to charity after the election.

CREW also filed a complaint to the FEC against Mrs. Palin and the RNC. In both cases, the clothing was funded by public donations.

“Campaign finance laws are not optional, but if candidates can’t abide by those laws, how can we trust them to be lawmakers,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW. “There is no excuse for this conduct; the FEC should investigate these members and candidates immediately.”

At least one of the officials said the complaint is “utterly false.”

A spokesman for Mr. Andrews said an airline lost the congressman’s luggage on his way to a speech at Cornell University in June 2007.

“Because he has to dress for his speech immediately, he had to purchase an entirely new set of clothes,” spokesman Fran Tagmire said, adding that the airline reimbursed the campaign for the entire amount later that month.

Two other challengers, all of whom ended up losing their races like Mr. Dew, also spent campaign money on clothes, according to the filing.

William James Breazeale, a Republican who ran for the 7th District seat in North Carolina, paid $1,000 to Fishers Mens Store for “clothes for campaign events.”

Andrew MacPherson, who was on the paid campaign staff of Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr, was paid $500 from the campaign for a “clothing allowance.”

The other candidates and Ms. Sanchez’s office did not return requests for comment.

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