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 Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sarah Palin's Stylist Highest Paid Employee in McCain/Palin Campaign

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An acclaimed celebrity makeup artist for Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin collected MORE money from John McCain's campaign than his foreign policy adviser.

Amy Strozzi, who works on the reality show "So You Think You Can Dance" and has been Palin's traveling stylist, was paid $22,800, according to campaign finance reports for the first two weeks in October.

In contrast, McCain's foreign policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann, was paid $12,500, the report showed.

McCain's campaign said the payment covered a portion of her work in September and a portion of October. An earlier campaign finance report showed Strozzi was paid $13,200 for a portion of September.

In recent days, McCain and his running mate have tried to douse a furor over how their side spent their money.

The Republican National Committee came under scrutiny after the party committee reported earlier this week that it had spent about $150,000 in September on wardrobe and cosmetics after Palin joined the GOP ticket.

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune and Fox News on Thursday, Palin said the clothes bought for the Republican National Convention were not worth $150,000 and said most have not left her campaign plane. She also said the family shops frugally.

"Those clothes are not my property. We had three days of using clothes that the RNC purchased," Palin told Fox News in an interview that aired Thursday night.

There was no evidence of additional clothing purchases in the most recent reports.

The Obama campaign has said it paid for hair and makeup costs associated with interviews or events, but neither the campaign nor the Democratic National Committee has paid for clothing.

The reports showed that Barack Obama and McCain enter the final days of the presidential campaign amid dwindling reserves, with Obama hindered by a sudden drop in fundraising and McCain restrained by spending limits.

But with the election 11 days away, both Obama and McCain, the Republican nominee, are operating with diminishing funds.

Obama had nearly $66 million in the bank at the end of the two-week period and debts of about $2.3 million. The Democratic National Committee and the joint victory fund reported combined cash on hand of $31 million.

McCain, who has accepted public financing for his campaign, is restricted in his spending. As of Oct. 15 he had more than $25 million in hand and more than $1 million in debts. The RNC, which has been helping his candidacy, had more than $59 million in the bank.

At McCain's spending rate of $1.5 million a day, the Arizona senator likely has only $12 million to spend in the next 11 days before the Nov. 4 election. He began the fall campaign in September with $84 million in public funds.

Obama is not participating in the public finance system, a strategy he used to advantage in September with a remarkable surge of donations. His October fundraising slowed, even though Democrats had hoped that presidential and vice presidential debates held during that period would have spurred additional giving.

Obama and his wife, Michelle, issued e-mail fundraising appeals on Thursday. The candidate warned supporters that "the margins of victory in crucial battleground states will be small."

Added his wife: "It all comes down to Friday morning when we make the last, tough choices about where we can fight — and how hard."

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