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By Corrie MacLaggan | Tuesday, January 26, 2010, 03:35 PM
GOP gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina said today that she used campaign dollars on clothing “because I’m a poor small-business provider not usually wardrobed like people would expect a gubernatorial candidate to be wardrobed.”
Her comments came during a meeting with Austin American-Statesman editorial board. News reporters (who do not participate in editorial board decisions about which candidates the newspaper will endorse) regularly sit in on editorial board meetings with candidates.
A report filed with the Texas Ethics Commission shows that Medina spent nearly $2,500 on clothing between July and December. The Dallas Morning News’ Christy Hoppe reported on the spending this morning on the Trail Blazers blog.
State law generally prohibits public officials from spending campaign funds for personal use. And a Texas Ethics Commission advisory opinion says that political contributions can only be used to pay for clothing if the clothing “is not adaptable to general use as ordinary clothing.” That opinion says that a tuxedo rented for a legislative gala is OK.
Medina said that after the campaign, she’ll likely donate the clothing to charity.
At the Statesman, Medina criticized Texas ethics rules that she said make it nearly impossible for people who are not wealthy to run for office.
“Do I enjoy having to use campaign funds to pay for my clothes?” Medina asked. “No, it makes me very uncomfortable. But it’s probably more important that I pay my mortgage, and so the campaign’s going to get to pay for the clothes that I have to wear and the shoes that I wear.”
Medina’s spending report shows wardrobe purchases from Macy’s, Nordstrom, Dillard’s, New York & Co., Limited Store and an unnamed store at First Colony Mall in Sugar Land.