Liquor an Office Supply? RNC Meets ‘Mad Men’
Republican institutions seem to be making a habit of making unusual expenditures with donated money. First, it was Sarah Palin’s ridiculous wardrobe budget. Then, it was the visits to bondage clubs. Now, Lindsay Beyerstein reports, it’s booze. Lots and lots of booze.
At the Republican National Committee, the term “office supplies” seems to have taken on a whole new meaning. If you take its recent filings with the Federal Election Commission at face value, the RNC, it seems, requires thousands of dollars worth of pricey clothing and more than a splash of booze to run its office.
Listed on the report in the category of “office supplies” are purchases from a New England winery and a Capitol Hill liquor store, as well as more than $3,800 from a Florida clothing store. The category of “meals” also seems to extend to the sartorial, with a $450 purchase from a high-end Manhattan boutique — one that has no restaurant or take-out shop on the premises — falling into that category, as listed on the RNC’s reports to the FEC. That purchase, as well as one for more than $500 from the Florida clothing store, are attributed to RNC Deputy Finance Director Debbie LeHardy, who, according to the report, was reimbursed for them.
The RNC told the FEC that it spent $982 of its donors’ money on “office supplies” from the Boyden Valley Winery last December. “We do not sell office supplies; we are a legal winery operating since 1991 in Cambridge, Vermont,” co-owner Linda Boyden told AlterNet.
Between December and February, the RNC bought over $700 worth of so-called “office supplies” from Congressional Liquors, a booze and sandwich shop on Washington, D.C.’s Capitol Hill.
Liquor is not what a reasonable person would understand an office supply,” according to Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center. She noted that there are some exceptions: For example, booze for an office Christmas party might legitimately be counted as an office supply.
When employees are given company credit cards, there’s going to be a certain amount of questionable activity. But you’d think someone in the accounting department would have caught a line item from Congressional Liquors and, at the very least, realized it wasn’t an “office supplies” purchase.
Then again, as anyone who has watched old television shows — or new television shows about the old days, such as AMC’s “Mad Men” — knows, it was once pretty common for executives to stock their offices with booze. Maybe the RNC is rocking it old school and trying to bring back this lamentably bygone tradition. If so, I commend them.
(And, yes, yes, the Democratic National Committee is spending plenty of money on booze, parties, and the like, too. This is more amusing than scandalous.)