By Michael Beckel
During the course of the 2010 election cycle, the Republican National Committee has raised more than $109 million and spent more than $115 million. These expenses include donations made to Republican candidates and independent expenditures to assist conservative-minded candidates, but plently of other costs, too, such as the nearly $2,000 for "meals" at the risqué Voyeur night club in West Hollywood.
As first reported by the Daily Caller, the RNC paid $1,946 for expenses at this bondage-themed strip club where topless female dancers are reported to simulate sex acts, act out S&M scenes and dangle from the ceiling. Politico reported that the RNC fired the staffer who sought the RNC's permission to pay for these costs, and that they will seek reimbursement from RNC consultants who spent the money at the strip club. (Update: The staffer in question is Allison Meyers, director of the RNC's Young Eagles program, reports the National Journal's Reid Wilson.)
Entertainment- and travel-related costs aren't, however, unique to Republicans. Both the RNC and its Democratic counterpart, the Democratic National Committee, sometimes spend lavishly on travel, catering, resorts and hotel accommodations.
Here is a table of the top vendors to receive money from the RNC through January, according to a Center for Responsive Politics review of campaign filings:
Manchester Grand Hyatt (San Diego)
Gaylord National Resort
Four Seasons Resort (Jackson Hole, Wyo.)
Moby Dick Airways
Here is a table of the top recipients of DNC money through January, per a Center for Responsive Politics review of expenditure records:
Hilton Hotels (location unspecified)
Mandarin Oriental Washington
Hilton Hotels (Beverly Hills)
Hyatt Hotels Chicago
Westin St. Francis (San Francisco)
The DNC also lists $451,499 under a line item called "DNC Travel Offset Account," which appears to fund unnamed travel expenses.
You, too, can be a sleuth and dig into the expenditure details -- of the RNC, DNC and all other political committees -- on OpenSecrets.org.
The RNC, for example, has paid 266 vendors various amounts for services so far this cycle -- from $8.9 million to Mail America Communications for postage and print production to $1 at McDonald's in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
And here is our record of the now-infamous Voyeur strip club expenditure: