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I'm a Minnesota Girl, living in the south. I tell my friends I try not to talk and think like a Yankee, but sometimes I slip up!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Don't Want to Get Hung Up On Clothes -



Let's pretend we have a time machine. And let us travel back in time to visit wise words from the John McCain of old. Let's travel back to May 25, 1993, specifically, when the old John McCain stood on the floor of the Senate and presented the following eloquent condemnation of the abuse of campaign funds :

"Madam President, the amendment before the Senate is a very simple one. It restricts the use of campaign funds for inherently personal purposes. The amendment would restrict individuals from using campaign funds for such things as home mortgage payments, clothing purchases, noncampaign automobile expenses, country club memberships, and vacations or other trips that are noncampaign in nature.
Madam President, I want to emphasize I will be citing some examples of how campaign funds have been used which are extremely egregious, but I want to point out they are not illegal, and the purpose of this amendment is to restrict the use of those campaign funds because, if we are truly going to have campaign finance reform, I do not believe that campaign funds should be used for such things as country club dues, tuxedos, vacations, and other purposes for which they are now almost routinely used by certain Members of both bodies.
I point out that Senators and Members of Congress currently earn $139,000 a year, which means that Members of Congress are in the top 1 percent of wage earners in the country. So let there be no mistake, Members of Congress do earn a good wage, a wage that does not leave them poor.
I think it is worth contrasting a Member's salary and perks with that of a typical American family.
According to the U.S. census, in 1990 the median family income in America was $30,056. With that $30,056, the average American family was expected to put a roof over their head, feed their children, and send them to school. It seems to me that we should be able to survive as well at a salary level of $139,000 per year. [ed. note: Sarah Palin's salary as Governor of Alaska is $125,000 per year]
The use of campaign funds for items which most Americans would consider to be strictly personal reasons, in my view, erodes public confidence and erodes it significantly.
Sara Fritz, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, in her book `Handbook of Campaign Spending' calls campaign funds that are used for personal reasons nothing more than a slush fund. [...]
Under House and Senate ethics rules, Members of Congress must use campaign funds for political--not personal--purposes. Yet the commonly accepted definition of a political expenditure has grown so broad and enforcement of the rules has been so lax that congressional campaigns now routinely make purchases that on their face appear to be personal, such as resort vacations, luxury automobiles, expensive meals, apartments, country club memberships, tuxedos, home improvements, baby sitting, and car phones.
I want to point out again, Madam President, that the examples I am going to cite are legal and they will seem egregious, but the fact is, in my view, they should be severely restricted.

Further, Ms. Fritz later concisely points out:
In many cases, in fact, [the use of campaign funds for personal purposes] has transformed middle-class politicians into members of the country club set, isolating them from their constituency.
One major reason the public does not approve of Congress is that they believe we are isolated and nonresponsive, and we, of course, do not want to maintain a policy that encourages the Congress to be even more separated and disconnected from the people.
If we in Congress learned one thing from President Clinton's $200 haircut last week, it should be that the public does not approve of its elected officials being treated as royalty. We should be no different.
The solution to this problem is simple; restrict the use of campaign funds solely to campaign purposes. [...]
According to Ms. Fritz, campaign funds have been used to buy items such as globes and trips to exotic locales such as Thailand, Taiwan, and Italy, tuxedos and an unexplainable $299 for bow ties.
I cannot imagine being able to justify to the public what will soon be the use of tax dollars in this fashion. [...]
I point out these abuses, in my view what are abuses, because they are certainly not what the average contributor intends for their funds to go to. "

And the old, principled John McCain reiterated his stance on the issue in January of 1994 :

"Mr. President, I do not believe the general public is aware of how their campaign contributions are being used. I think it would be fair to say that if they did, they would be outraged, and well they should be.
According to Ms. Fritz, campaign funds have been used to buy such items as a jumbo illuminated globe from Hammacher Schlemmer, for trips to exotic locals such as Thailand, Taiwan, and Italy, and for tuxedos and an unexplainable $299 for bow ties. [...]
Mr. President, it is time to break with the norm. What is occurring is wrong, and it must be stopped. T[...]
It is time the Congress, and those whose privilege it is to serve there, learn to live within its means. Restricting the use of campaign funds for personal purposes is a vital first step in that direction. "

And what does the new McCain have to say about Sarah Palin's "abuses" and "erosion of public confidence"? The campaign said it was "remarkable" that people were even discussing the issue. Apparently, if the new McCain has a time machine of his own, he would travel back in time and tell the old John McCain to shut the hell up.

All of the above researched by Georgia10

Perhaps the Lady Sarah can pay the campaign for the clothes (I'm sure she already has a book advance and many paid speaking engagements lined up), and the campaign can give the money to Joe the Plumber, the unpaid focus of campaign marketing. Then Joe could use the money to pay the government all the unpaid taxes he has racked up, and the nation, as a whole, will prosper.


Algernon said...

When I was making my living as an actor, I had a situation where legally I was entitled to deduct some of my clothing from my taxes. The rationale is that some clothing items are necessary for promoting one's work. It is a privilege that can be abused and I suppose it is.

Politics is just another kind of show business, so I could extend some degree of this privilege to a political candidate. I'm sure if the campaign bought her a few items for visiting different parts of the country (you know, lots of mavericky weather zones out there) no one would mind.

But wow. Talk about a shopping spree.

Donna said...

The difference, Alg, is that the clothes would have been purchased with your own money. (Yes, I'm sure many actors have a field day with that, but it's still their money.)

This was not Sarah Palin's personal money - and I'm going to say that $150,000.00 in less than two months is a tad extravagant ... or is that downright disgusting? Considering the things they point fingers at, considering the economy, considering how they're trying to reach "good ol' America" ... their choices go from bad to worse.

Algernon said...

Oh, you are quite right about that! My own money up front, at least. The parallel I saw is considering clothing as a professional expense rather than income.