updated 3/19/2004 4:50:14 PM ET 2004-03-19T21:50:14

A principal merchandiser for the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign sold a handful of $49.95 embroidered fleece pullovers made in Burma, a country whose imports were banned last year by President Bush, officials said Friday.

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The Spalding Group of Louisville, Ky., said its U.S. supplier inadvertently included Burma-made pullovers among a few hundred to be embroidered with the Bush-Cheney campaign logo and sold on its Web site. The supplier said it had imported the pullovers before the ban went into effect, Spalding president Ted Jackson said.

Bush, citing the nation’s repressive regime and the need to provide incentives for human rights and democracy in Burma, now called Myanmar, signed into law a bill last year banning imports on Sept. 1.

Jackson said he understood that any imports on hand before the ban could be sold legally, but he said the company would not have sold the garments had it known they were from Burma because of the ban and human-rights issues.

“From my perspective it’s repugnant whether it’s legal or not,” he said. “We would never have sold anything from Burma. ... I would never have knowingly done that.”

Only 10 garments involved
The company may have shipped to customers as many as 10 fleece pullovers carrying the “Made in Burma” label, Jackson said. Of the 60 garments in its warehouse on Thursday, only two bore the label, he said.

Spalding asks its suppliers to provide only apparel manufactured in the United States unless no American-made products are available, Jackson said. Embroidery and printing take place domestically, he said.

“The merchandiser has admitted a mistake and accepted responsibility,” campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said. “The Bush-Cheney campaign is committed to making sure that only made-in-the-USA products are sold on the Web site.”

Spalding, founded in 1984, provides printed campaign materials and campaign-related products and services only for GOP candidates and organizations. A licensee for Bush-Cheney ’04, Inc., it sells merchandise ranging from yard signs and mugs to caps and other apparel.

The Long Island, N.Y., newspaper Newsday reported in its Friday editions that one of its reporters had received a fleece pullover that contained a “Made in Burma” label after ordering Bush-Cheney merchandise from the Web site.

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