Saturday, December 6, 2008

3 Palin Stylists Cost Campaign More Than $165,000 - Huffington Post, and NY Times Report

Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign spent more than $165,000 over the course of nine weeks on a trio of stylists for Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, equivalent to what a Hollywood studio might invest in preparing an A-list actress for a movie premiere or publicity campaign, other stylists said.

The fees showed up in new campaign finance reports filed late Thursday with the Federal Election Commission. The filings furnished a trickle of new details to what has become one of the lingering controversies of the 2008 presidential campaign: the expensive makeover of Ms. Palin, the vice-presidential nominee, for the campaign, including the tens of thousands of dollars spent by the Republican Party on clothing for her and her family, undermining her calibrated “hockey mom” appeal.

Besides the payments to the stylists, the new reports, for the period of Oct. 16 to Nov. 24, showed additional purchases on Ms. Palin’s behalf, significantly beyond the $150,000 already reported that was spent by the party at luxury stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus.

The Republican National Committee used contributions from its donors for about $23,000 in additional charges from dozens of stores, including Saks, Neiman’s, Nordstrom, Victoria’s Secret, Kate Spade, Brooks Brothers, Radio Shack and the Gap, according to the filings. There were more than 70 bills, ranging from more than $4,500 spent at various Saks stores to $350 at Escape Skin Care & Day Spa in New York to $151.71 bought from Toys “R” Us in New York.

Ms. Palin said through a spokeswoman that she had not authorized the purchases or services and was “appalled” at the huge amount of money spent.

The new filings also showed that the McCain campaign paid Lisa L. Kline, a New York stylist who appears from campaign finance records to have been Ms. Palin’s fashion consultant, $54,900 in mid-October.

Calls to Ms. Kline’s home and office in New York in recent weeks, including on Friday, were not returned.

A former McCain campaign official, speaking on condition of anonymity to give a candid account of private matters in the campaign, said that after Ms. Palin expressed interest in help from a stylist, she was referred to Ms. Kline by Nicolle Wallace, a senior communications aide for the campaign. Ms. Wallace did not return a call seeking comment.

Two Hollywood stylists, each of whom works with leading actresses but asked not to be identified because of their clients’ wishes, said Ms. Kline’s fee seemed excessively high.

“If she was traveling with Sarah Palin every day, maybe I’d understand,” one of the stylists said. “But stylists don’t typically do that.”

A top stylist working for a top film actress for a movie premiere and a press junket, which might last two weeks and include time selecting outfits, would be paid about $40,000, the stylists estimated.

What is not known is whether Ms. Kline’s fee included extra costs like tailoring, messenger services and the use of an assistant. If so, said Leslie Fremar, a stylist whose clients include the actresses Charlize Theron, Jennifer Connelly and Julianne Moore, the fee to style Ms. Palin would not be unreasonable.

“At first glance, it seems high,” Ms. Fremar said. “I think most people don’t realize what it costs for an independent contractor to do these services. They think it’s just clothes.”

The McCain campaign also paid Amy Strozzi, Ms. Palin’s traveling makeup artist, $68,400 for roughly two months of work. Ms. Strozzi was nominated for an Emmy award this year for her work on the television show “So You Think You Can Dance?”

The figure did not seem outlandish to Robin Siegel, a makeup artist in Los Angeles who has worked with celebrities.

“I don’t think that’s exorbitant considering the time she needed to be available,” Ms. Siegel said.

Ms. Palin’s traveling hair stylist, Angela Lew, was paid $42,615, which works out to about $750 a day over two months. John Barrett, who owns a hair salon in New York that bears his name, said his day rate to work with a star or a V.I.P. was $5,000, a figure that was consistent with other top hairdressers’.

“For someone like Nicole Kidman or Jennifer Lopez, that’s reasonable,” Mr. Barrett said of the fee.

A man who identified himself as Ms. Lew’s father, Ron Lew, said his daughter traveled with Ms. Palin and worked round the clock. He said her earnings were roughly the equivalent of what she would have made at the Hair Grove in Westlake Village, Calif., where she normally works and which he characterized as a high-end salon.

He said Ms. Lew, who is 24, came to the attention of campaign officials through Cindy McCain, who had used a hairdresser at the same salon.

“She thoroughly enjoyed it,” Mr. Lew said of his daughter’s campaign experience.

But while studios may be willing to pay thousands of dollars a day for the preferred hairdressers of stars like Julia Roberts or Reese Witherspoon, Mr. Barrett, the New York salon owner, said salons and agencies could offer a range of rates for grooming services.

Some stylists questioned why Ms. Palin needed separate hair and makeup people when there were people who could do

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