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Two Members Scolded by FEC for Spending Campaign Cash on Clothes

The Federal Election Commission chided two Members this week for spending campaign cash on clothing, just two months after the agency signed off on former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s $145,000 shopping spree.

In a July 14 letter, the agency notified the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington that Democratic Reps. Rob Andrews (N.J.) and Loretta Sanchez (Calif.) had violated “personal use— prohibitions. However, neither Member faces a fine stemming from the matter.

CREW filed an FEC complaint in December against Andrews, Sanchez and other federal candidates who had allegedly purchased clothing with campaign funds, an apparent violation — even if the lawmakers reimbursed the political committees.

Campaign finance law specifically bars the purchase of clothing by political committees that does not include “campaign slogans.—

Sanchez was cited by the commission for purchasing two traditional Vietnamese dresses for use at campaign events.

Last spring, election regulators dismissed a similar CREW complaint against the Republican National Committee and Palin. Agency lawyers ruled that the Alaska governor and RNC did nothing wrong in purchasing $145,914 worth of clothing for the Palin and her family.

CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan claimed that Monday’s FEC decision “puts federal candidates on notice that excuses for purchasing clothing on the dime of campaign contributors won’t fly.—

“Whether candidates need a suit and tie they are not accustomed to wearing, or traditional ethnic dress not part of their regular wardrobe, they will have to pay for those clothes themselves, just like everyone else,— Sloan said in a statement.