N.C. Rep. Jason Saine on Monday defended spending more than $19,000 in campaign money on clothes, including some from a custom tailor in Charlotte.
Saine, a Lincolnton Republican, cited the spending on his most recent campaign report. It was first reported on The Daily Haymaker, a conservative website.
Saine spent $17,908 on clothes from Tom James Co., which bills itself as “the world’s largest manufacturer of custom clothing.”
Saine reported spending another $826 for shirts at Joseph A. Bank and $381 on clothes at Belk.
“I get the sticker shock,” said the three-term lawmaker. “But it’s part of the cost of doing the business that I’m in. At the end of the day it’s a campaign expense … I wouldn’t have these but for serving in the legislature.”
State law allows the use of campaign contributions for expenditures resulting from campaigning for or “holding public office.” Legislative rules require men to wear coats and ties during session.
A spokesman for the State Board of Elections said the test is whether someone would have incurred the expenses “but for” holding office.
Saine, who co-chairs the House Finance Committee, said he bought “eight or nine” suits, 20 shirts, two belts and two pairs of shoes from Tom James. He said the arrangement allows for the frequent alterations he said he needs.
“When you’re short and fat like me, you can’t buy off-the-rack without paying many, many dollars in alterations,” he said.
Saine loaned his campaign $10,000 in 2013. He said he plans to kick in another $5,000.
He said because he works in IT and social media, his main work clothes consist of Khakis and golf shirts, not suits.