If you are in NYC tonight and feel like dropping $95 on a scarf with Obama’s picture on it then you’re in luck.
WASHINGTON — Move over, PACs. The latest campaign-finance flap is about sacks.
At a New York fund-raising event Tuesday called “Runway to Win,” President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign plans to begin selling campaign-themed tote bags, T-shirts and accessories designed by more than two dozen famous designers.
Attendees can purchase a tote bag designed by Derek Lam for $75. A collectible makeup bag created by Richard Blanch with nail polish in Red-y To Win Red, Victory White and Bo Blue is going for $40. And a silk scarf featuring Mr. Obama’s likeness by Thakoon Panichgul is $95. Profits from the sales will go to Mr. Obama’s campaign chest.
Republicans contend the sale might violate campaign-finance rules. The gear will sell for a fraction of the price the designers’ merchandise typically fetches at department stores. Republicans say that suggests they relied on corporate resources to keep costs low, which could amount to illegal campaign contributions. On Mr. Lam’s website, handbags range in price from $340 to $1,890. The three scarves offered on Mr. Thakoon’s website go for $325 apiece.
Jan Baran, an election lawyer with Wiley Rein LLP, said designers can’t ask employees to work on political projects unless they willingly volunteered their time. “Someone who is paid to do campaign work is not a volunteer,” he said. If the designer or staff are paid by anyone other than the campaign, it would be considered a campaign contribution from a company to a candidate.
The fund-raising effort will be launched before the start of Fashion Week in New York. It was a project of Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour, who rounded up Obama supporters to apply their creativity—and more important, their names—to otherwise pedestrian campaign gear. She referred questions about the project to the Obama campaign.
The RNC hits the easy lay-up with this web ad.