Archive for the ‘Money-Money-Money’ Category

Gosh – if they’d sent her to “TLC’s What Not to Wear” it would have only cost them $5,000!

From The NY Times

Published: October 22, 2008

Sarah Palin’s wardrobe joined the ranks of symbolic political excess on Wednesday, alongside John McCain’s multiple houses and John Edwards’s $400 haircut, as Republicans expressed fear that weeks of tailoring Ms. Palin as an average “hockey mom” would fray amid revelations that the Republican Party outfitted her with expensive clothing from high-end stores.

Cable television, talk radio and even shows like “Access Hollywood” seemed gripped with sartorial fever after campaign finance reports confirmed that the Republican National Committee spent $75,062 at Neiman Marcus and $49,425 at Saks Fifth Avenue in September for Ms. Palin and her family.

Advisers to Ms. Palin said on Wednesday that the purchases — which totaled about $150,000 and were classified as “campaign accessories” — were made on the fly after Ms. Palin, the governor of Alaska, was chosen as the Republican vice-presidential candidate on Aug. 29 and needed new clothes to match climates across the 50 states. They emphasized, too, that Ms. Palin did not spend time on the shopping, and that other people made the decision to buy such an array of clothes.

Yet Republicans expressed consternation publicly and privately that the shopping sprees on her behalf, which were first reported by Politico, would compromise Ms. Palin’s standing as Senator McCain’s chief emissary to working-class voters whose salvos at the so-called cultural elite often delight audiences at Republican rallies.

That possibility was brought to life, for instance, on “The View” on ABC, as Joy Behar, a co-host, noted the McCain campaign’s outreach to blue-collar workers — like an Ohio plumber who recently chided Senator Barack Obama over taxes — after another co-host, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, defended the expenditures.

“I don’t think Joe the Plumber wears Manolo Blahniks,” Ms. Behar said.

Advisers to Mr. Obama — as well as those of his rival in the Democratic primaries, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton — said that campaign money was never spent on personal clothing but that potentially embarrassing purchases could be blended into advertising budgets.

Mr. Edwards, the former North Carolina senator, however, listed two $400 haircuts as a campaign expense, and after they were detected he struggled to shake an elitist image in his failed Democratic presidential bid.

Such an image is unhelpful at this late stage of the general election, Republicans said, especially when many families are experiencing economic pain, and when the image applies to a candidate, like Ms. Palin, who has run for office in part on her appeal as an outdoors enthusiast and former small-town mayor who scorns pretensions.

“It looks like nobody with a political antenna was working on this,” said Ed Rollins, a Republican political consultant who ran President Ronald Reagan’s re-election campaign in 1984. “It just undercuts Palin’s whole image as a hockey mom, a ‘one-of-us’ kind of candidate.”

Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, have been described as elitist by both Republicans and Democrats at times, and so much was made when she appeared on “The View” in June in a black-and-white patterned dress. Turns out it sold for $148 at an off-the-rack store.

Few Republican operatives or politicians, even those critical of the McCain-Palin campaign, were publicly criticizing the ticket on Wednesday over the clothing purchases. Some said privately that doing so would be akin to kicking a campaign while it was down.

Others said the issue was tainted with sexism, given that male politicians often spend thousands of dollars on suits.

“She had a legitimate need to purchase clothing to get her through three months of grueling campaigning in the constant spotlight of television cameras,” said William F. B. O’Reilly, a Republican consultant in New York. “No one would blink if this was a male candidate buying Brooks Brothers suits.”

Other Republicans said the focus on Ms. Palin’s clothing did not fairly reflect the challenge she faced: Neither she nor her Republican allies expected that she would be tapped as Mr. McCain’s running mate until the last minute, when she was elevated from her comfort zone in Alaska and presented to the nation as the first female Republican vice-presidential nominee.

“If they hadn’t done this, ‘Saturday Night Live’ would be doing jokes where Governor Palin would be dressed in elk skin,” said Rich Galen, a Republican consultant not associated with the McCain campaign.

Party officials, who said they had discussed the matter with McCain and Palin advisers, said all concerned wanted Ms. Palin to present herself as a fashionable-but-sensible on-the-go working mother — a multilayered sartorial strategy, in other words, that has yielded an array of well-cut jackets and skirts, suitable for the different seasons and state climates.

More than $130,000 of the charges used to outfit Ms. Palin and her family were initially footed by Jeff Larson, a prominent Republican consultant in St. Paul whose firm has been tied to the onslaught of negative robocalls about Mr. Obama from Mr. McCain’s campaign. Mr. Larson was also the chief executive of the local host committee for the Republican National Convention, in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Federal Election Commission records showed Mr. Larson was reimbursed by the Republican National Committee for charges at Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Barneys New York and Atelier New York, a men’s clothing store.

Other purchases by the R.N.C. included $98 from Pacifier, a children’s boutique in Minneapolis.

Hours before Ms. Palin was to speak at the convention on Sept. 3, a woman burst into the store, said Jon Witthuhn, an owner. After she said she needed something for a 6-month-old boy and was doing shopping related to the convention, it began to dawn on him that he might be outfitting Trig Palin, Ms. Palin’s youngest.

The woman paid for a blue striped convertible romper, a matching monkey-ear hat and socks. Trig Palin appeared on television that night wearing the outfit — without the hat.

Republican officials said all the clothes would be given to charity after the campaign is over. If Ms. Palin kept the clothes, the $150,000 would have to be taxed as income, tax experts said.

Had the purchases been made by the McCain campaign, it would be a conversion of campaign money into personal use, which is prohibited. The same rule does not apply to money from party committees.

“The R.N.C. cleverly used the party committee’s money to avoid the liability that would have occurred if campaigns funds were used,” said Kenneth Gross, a lawyer who is an expert in campaign finance.

Under disclosure requirements of the Alaska Public Offices Commission, Ms. Palin would need to report any gifts valued at over $250 from a single giver.

Elisabeth Bumiller and Leslie Wayne contributed reporting.

On August 17, 2007 – we posted the article below. In light of the events of the past few weeks, please take a few minutes and re-read this amazing piece of information.

Countrywide Financial

At about 3:25 in, this video shows how much some of these folks have taken – BOTH of our “choices” for President are part of this.

They think you don’t get it. We think they’re wrong. Keep calling and e-mailing!

Washington You’re Fired

Still Million Dollar a Month Salaries…
Still Tens of Billions to the Bank of China…
Be Skeptical of Senate Bailout Bill
All the Old Problems Remain
A Single Comprehensive Updated Article by Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA)
October 1, 2008

Taxpayers highly unlikely to recoup any of the costs under revenue provision
added last Sunday
(page 2)
Treasury will not use the new insurance powers added to the Bill last Sunday
(page 3)
Tens of billions will go to foreign investors (page 3)
• Million-Dollar a month salaries will continue (page 4)
• Oversight Board can critique, not halt, any action (page 4)
• Few if any homeowners will get mortgage relief (page 4)
• All $700 billion can be spent by January 20, 2009 (page 5)
• Taxpayers will get little or no equity upside (page 6)
• Meaningful regulatory reform proposals will be subject to filibuster, delay, and
dilution (page 6)
• We have time to write a good bill (page 6)

Read Rep. Sherman’s full article here. (It’s a PDF so you can download and save it if you like. We did.)

Also – here’s Rep. Sherman discussing the fear tactics used to push this bill through –

ONE of ours is….

Allard (R)
Barasso (R)
Brownback (R)
Bunning (R)
Cantwell (D)
Cochran (R)
Crapo (R)
DeMint (R)
Dole (R)
Dorgan (D)
Enzi (R)
Feingold (D)
Inhofe (R)
Johnson (D)
Landrieu (D)
Nelson (FL) (D)
Roberts (R)
Sanders (I)
Sessions (R)
Shelby (R)
Stabenow (D)
Tester (D)
Vitter (R)
Wicker (R)
Wyden (D)

This is scandalous! They are assuming you are too tired and beaten down to care. A lot of these people are up for re-election – continue to let them know what you think!

This is a conference call place BY THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT – it’s too long to post here in its entirety – so read and listen at NakedCapitalism.com.

Mussolini-Style Corporatism in Action: Treasury Conference Call on Bailout Bill to Analysts (Updated)

We certainly are glad we are NOT in Washington D.C. – the stench must be horrible!

Pelosi paid husband with PAC funds

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has directed nearly $100,000 from her political action committee to her husband’s real estate and investment firm over the past decade, a practice of paying a spouse with political donations that she supported banning last year.

Financial Leasing Services Inc. (FLS), owned by Paul F. Pelosi, has received $99,000 in rent, utilities and accounting fees from the speaker’s “PAC to the Future” over the PAC’s nine-year history.

The payments have quadrupled since Mr. Pelosi took over as treasurer of his wife’s committee in 2007, Federal Election Commission records show. FLS is on track to take in $48,000 in payments this year alone – eight times as much as it received annually from 2000 to 2005, when the committee was run by another treasurer.

Lawmakers’ frequent use of campaign donations to pay relatives emerged as an issue in the 2006 election campaigns, when the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal gave Democrats fodder to criticize Republicans such as former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas and Rep. John T. Doolittle of California for putting their wives on their campaign and PAC payrolls for fundraising work.

Last year, Mrs. Pelosi supported a bill that would have banned members of Congress from putting spouses on their campaign staffs. The bill – which passed the House in a voice vote but did not get out of a Senate committee – banned not only direct payments by congressional campaign committees and PACs to spouses for services including consulting and fundraising, but also “indirect compensation,” such as payments to companies that employ spouses.

“Democrats are committed to reforming the way Washington does business,” Mrs. Pelosi said in a press release at the time. “Congressman [Adam] Schiff’s bill will help us accomplish that goal by increasing transparency in election campaigns and preventing the misuse of funds.”

Last week, Mrs. Pelosi’s office said the payments to her husband’s firm were perfectly legal, insisting she is compensating her husband at fair market value for the work his firm has performed for the PAC. But ethical watchdogs said the arrangement sends the wrong message.

“It’s problematic,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a nonprofit ethics and watchdog group. “From what I understand, Mr. Pelosi doesn’t need the money, but this isn’t the issue. … As speaker of the House, it sends the wrong message. She shouldn’t be putting family members on the payroll.”

A senior adviser to Mrs. Pelosi described the payments to FLS as “business expenses.”

“She’s followed all the appropriate rules and regulations in terms of records and paperwork,” said Brendan Daly, Mrs. Pelosi’s spokesman. “When [former treasurer] Leo McCarthy became ill, she thought that it was best that that firm did the accounting and she’s paid fair market value in San Francisco.”

Between 1999 and 2006, FLS collected $500 per month to cover rent, utilities and equipment for the leadership PAC, according to the FEC records. The PAC’s address is listed as a personal mailbox in San Francisco, across the street from FLS’s Montgomery Street office building, but the rent payments went to an office space.

In early 2007, the PAC’s treasurer, Leo T. McCarthy, former Democratic speaker of the state assembly and lieutenant governor in California, died. Mr. Pelosi took over as treasurer and his company’s PAC payouts rose.

At that point, FLS started charging the PAC $24,000 per year for accounting work. In January 2008, the PAC’s rent – paid to FLS – also quadrupled from $500 to $2,000 per month.

Katie Falkenberg/The Washington Times PARTNERSHIP: Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul F. Pelosi, was by her side at a Democratic event in 2006.

Mr. McCarthy, the previous treasurer, had done the work as a volunteer, according to FEC documents and Jennifer Crider, a senior adviser to Mrs. Pelosi and spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. She said FLS’ accounting fees are in line with costs for other PACs.

The jump in rent was an adjustment to reflect San Francisco’s pricey real estate market, Miss Crider said. The rent was adjusted to $1,250 per month, with $750 in back rent to reflect that the rent should have been increased in mid-2007. This was the first increase since the PAC was established in mid-1999, records show.

Over the first six months of 2008, FLS was the largest vendor for Mrs. Pelosi’s PAC. Brian Wolff, a political consultant, is the second-largest vendor, bringing in $22,500 this year.

FLS’ payments represent 11 percent of the $213,900 the PAC raised over the first half of this year, according to the FEC documents.

PACs, which are designed to help politicians contribute to other candidates and build influence with colleagues, operate under lighter restrictions than traditional campaign committees.

Meredith McGehee, policy director at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, said putting family members on a PAC payroll is bound to raise questions and, in some cases, allow for abuse.

“The reality is that under the current system, PACs are rife with self-dealing transactions,” she said. “The laws and regulations could and should be strengthened.

“There is a point now that you’re starting to talk about real money,” she said of Mrs. Pelosi’s PAC. “This is not just a mom-and-pop operation and any self-dealing transaction by a member of Congress is going to get scrutiny, particularly with large amounts of money and prominent members.”

It is illegal for members of Congress to hire family members to work on their official staff, but hiring relatives to work on a campaign or PAC is legal.

To be sure, many political action committees employ or work with family businesses. Last year, CREW found that 19 members of Congress used campaign committees or PACs to purchase services from a family member between 2002 and 2006.

Mrs. Pelosi’s PACs have been in trouble before. In 2004, one of her political action committees, Team Majority, was fined $21,000 by the FEC for accepting donations over federal limits. It was one of two PACs she operated at the same time. The Team Majority PAC was closed shortly after the fine was levied.

From a New York Times article of SEPTEMBER 11, 2003!

”These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ”The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.” — Barney Frank (D-MA) is the current Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

Read the rest of the article and what was proposed 5 years agohere.