With huge mid-term elections coming up in November, some in the Republican Party are angry over lavish spending by Chairman Michael Steele -- reportedly including nearly $2,000 at a strip club in California.
A report on the Web site The Daily Caller claims Steele spends big when he travels. For example, according to Federal Election Commission filings, expenses during an RNC trip to California last month included $9,099 at the Beverly Hills Hotel, $6,596 at the Four Seasons, and $1,946.25 at Voyeur West Hollywood, which the site describes as "a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex."
But that's not all:
RNC trips to other cities produced bills from a long list of chic and costly hotels such as the Venetian and the M Resort in Las Vegas, and the W (for a total of $19,443) in Washington. A midwinter trip to Hawaii cost the RNC $43,828, not including airfare.
As far as airfare, filings show the RNC spent $17,514 on private aircraft in the month of February alone, as well as $12,691 on limousines during the same period.
Some in the party defend Steele's spending, saying luxurious accomodations are needed to attract big-time donors, especially at a time when the Republicans are the minority party in Washington.
But others say Steele is spending on himself, not to further the party's interests.
“This is not somebody who is out recruiting candidates,” The Daily Calls reports an aide who worked closely with Steele said. “He is not meeting with donors. He’s not asking for money. The guy is writing his book or doing his speaking gigs, or whatever the hell else he fills his days with. Those are his priorities.”
Steele's fundraising acumen has come under question. The article says:
A March 20 FEC filing shows the RNC has $9.5 million cash on hand. Steele began his tenure with $22.8 million, and has since raised $96.2 million. During the same period, however, the RNC has spent $109.6 million, for a deficit of $13.4 million. That spending included aid to the campaigns that elected Gov. Bob McDonnell in Virginia and Gov. Chris Christie in New Jersey.
“The story is less what’s left, and more what’s been spent,” said one longtime Republican operative. “It’s difficult to draw distinctions between various elections because the circumstances are so different. But what is worthy of scrutiny is the March cash on hand versus where it was January or February last year, which is essentially the same picture. And that comes despite having raised more than $90 million dollars.”
According to Steele spokesman Doug Heye, the RNC is right on track with fundraising. “We’re very comfortable with where we are financially and we know that we’ll have the resources on the ground to be competitive in November as we move forward to try and take back the House and Senate.”