Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 29, 2010

THE RNC: RISQUE NATIONAL COMMITTEE.... Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, has been questioned more than once about his judgment and priorities when it comes to spending his party's money. We learned a month ago, for example, about the RNC chief spending excessively on private planes, limousines, catering, and flowers.

It didn't help when the party, hoping to have every penny it can get its hands on for the midterms, also hired Wolfgang Puck's D.C. crew to cater the RNC's Christmas party at a trendy hotspot, and moved its winter meeting from Washington to Hawaii.

But this new report from The Daily Caller has to be the most humiliating yet.

According to two knowledgeable sources, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele once raised the possibility of using party money to buy a private jet for his travel. [...]

While Steele has not purchased a plane, he continues to charter them. According to federal disclosure records, 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). There are no readily identifiable private plane expenses for Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine in the DNC's last three months of filings. [...]

Once on the ground, FEC filings suggest, Steele travels in style. A February RNC trip to California, for example, included a $9,099 stop at the Beverly Hills Hotel, $6,596 dropped at the nearby Four Seasons, and $1,620.71 spent [update: the amount is actually $1,946.25] at Voyeur West Hollywood, a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex. [emphasis added]

Wait, what?

Yes, it appears that Michael Steele spent RNC money at "a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex." The party of "family values," indeed.

I wonder what the reaction would be -- from the media, from the political establishment, from the RNC -- if Tim Kaine had spent nearly $2,000 in donor money at "a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex."

There have already been reports in recent months about Republican donors moving away from the RNC, and towards campaign committees and preferred candidates, in part because they don't trust the party's strange chairman. This was made worse when we learned that Steele has been using his position to line his own pockets, most notably through his outside paid speeches and a book written in secret.

But these latest revelations will weaken Steele even further. Indeed, if Republicans fall short of their own sky-high expectations in the midterm elections, expect Michael Steele to receive the bulk of the blame.

Update: The RNC now claims that a "non-committee staffer," not Steele, spent the money at Voyeur West Hollywood. The RNC chairman, the party insists, was "never at the location in question."

The party has not yet disputed the other expenditures.

Steve Benen 11:05 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (47)

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Comments

It's good to be the king.

Posted by: Luther on March 29, 2010 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

IOKIYAR!

This won't get any traction, of course.

Posted by: Eaten Vegetarian Crow on March 29, 2010 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

Michael didn't actually GO to the bondage club. He actually met with a donor in one of the "private rooms". He never saw anything on the stage.

Posted by: artsmith on March 29, 2010 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Steele has job security till after the midterms. When the GOP doesn't win back both House and Senate, he'll make a great fall guy.

Posted by: jimBOB on March 29, 2010 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Steele might have a hard time staying on message, but he's no fool.

Posted by: KTinOhio on March 29, 2010 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

He had to research the real-world consequences of gay marriage.

Posted by: BrendanInBoston on March 29, 2010 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Stories like this damage the public discourse with their triviality and pointlessness. On the other hand, the Republican Party damages our discourse pretty much everyday. Have at it.

Posted by: walt on March 29, 2010 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

The gift that keeps giving!
He is every thing the media said Dr Dean would be.
While Dean played low and built his "50 state" infrastructure, Steele has been a gadfly.
Schadenfreuda!

Posted by: joyzeeboy on March 29, 2010 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe he was doing opposition research?

Posted by: Barbara on March 29, 2010 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Can't blame Steele, the put him in when they were going through a little bit of contrition but now the symbolism of Steele as chair is irrelevant so he knows that if they don't take back the House and the Senate, and/or Obama gets reelected, he's going to be the fall guy (and all that's wrong with Affirmative Action), so why not make the most of it while he's in there.

Posted by: Archon on March 29, 2010 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Just a guess: Steele on the street and Ken Blackwell in his seat by C.O.B. Friday.

Posted by: penalcolony on March 29, 2010 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

The Teaparty SS and MediCare set. The anti-gay, gay elected Republican politicians. The holier-than-thou married set screwing mmarried campaign workers. And now, the RNC Chairman, of the party of fiscal reponsibility, blows almost $2,000 by going to a simulated lesbian strip joint (maybe it should be "fistal" reponsibility?).
Neither Mark Twain nor Charles Dickens were creative enough to think up characters like these.

I wish they could see themselves as others see them. But they can't. They have a irony deficiency...

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 29, 2010 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

According to federal disclosure records, 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).

A February RNC trip to California, for example, included a $9,099 stop at the Beverly Hills Hotel, $6,596 dropped at the nearby Four Seasons,and $1,620.71 spent [update: the amount is actually $1,946.25] at Voyeur West Hollywood, a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex.

This report, of course, will be buried by the MSM (if it's mentioned at all) but I'd love to see how the Rethugs, suddenly so "concerned" about the deficit, would explain this to their tea-partying base. "We realize many of you are unemployed due to the recession we created, but hey, at least our chairman is living like a rap star!"

Posted by: electrolite on March 29, 2010 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry. Not sure I heard correctly. Was that "a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex?"

Posted by: cr on March 29, 2010 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder what the reaction would be -- from the media, from the political establishment, from the RNC -- if Tim Kaine has spent...

I believe the phrase your looking for is Democratic Road Kill.

Posted by: koreyel on March 29, 2010 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

So...let me see if I get this right: Steele didn't spend the RNC money on a club with topless women imitating lesbian sex; a "non-committee" staffer did.
OK ... 1) what is a "non-committee" staffer anyway? You're a staffer for the committee or you're not. You work for the RNC or you don't. Right? And 2) RNC money was still spent on the club, right? The item showed up on the RNC books, right?
What am I missing and why isn't the vaunted liberal media all over this.

Posted by: BigRenman on March 29, 2010 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Private planes? Limousines? Wolfgang Puck ??? But, but, but --- it's The Dems who are elitists !!! I think my head is going to explode.

Posted by: G.Kerby on March 29, 2010 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

It's all a big misundertanding: he just stopped in to get directions to Pastor Rick Warren's church and make a phone call.

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on March 29, 2010 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

And left a tip.

Posted by: beejeez on March 29, 2010 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

It was only "bondage themed" not real bondage. And they were only "imitating lesbian sex," not real lesbians. So it is all just good wholesome family entertainment. Like Hooters. As with the outbreak of violence, the Dems are making too much of it and besides, it is all their fault anyway for making bondage and lesbianism acceptable. Vote Quimby.

Posted by: martin on March 29, 2010 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Bob Ehrlich, the man who brought Michael Steele to prominence by naming him to his ticket as Lt Governor in 2002, is about to declare to run for Governor again.

If the MD Dems don't at least point out the extreme lack of judgment Ehrlich showed-it's a lot like McCain choosing Palin-they've missed a good one.

It was only "bondage themed" not real bondage. And they were only "imitating lesbian sex," not real lesbians. So it is all just good wholesome family entertainment. Like Hooters.

Or Medieval Times...

Posted by: howie on March 29, 2010 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

It's all a big misundertanding: he just stopped in to get directions to Pastor Rick Warren's church and make a phone call.

Correct. And the $1600 was just for a seltzer water. He can't help it if he was a little thirsty.

Posted by: brent on March 29, 2010 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

If true, good for Steele! Republicans are too boring, sitting around reading bibles, only having %*# for procreation, driving old GM's or Ford's, and wearing second hand clothes.

They need to be a snazzier, up-to-date party and nothing says "party" like a chartered jet, the Four Seasons, the Beverly Hilton and a bondage themed strip club -- esp on the RNC's tab.

Next, Steele needs release a Republican RAP song, get some serious bling and a couple of hot babe groupies.

Like G.W. Plunkett of Tammany Hall said, "I see my opportunities and I took 'em."

Posted by: Kurt on March 29, 2010 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

How do you even get away with putting something like that on an expense report in the first place? Especially one you have to CC to the federal government. I should fill out an expense report for $2000 at a strip club and see what my boss says.

Posted by: ArkPanda on March 29, 2010 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

A trueism of Washington: It's always the staffers fault, never the boss.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on March 29, 2010 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

ROTFLMAO! Are we sure Steele isn't a Democratic mole? When you think about it, his cover is perfect. They can't fire him, because he's the only fig-leaf they've got to disguise the obvious racism of the "tea party" movement and of the none-too-subtle racist dog-whistles in the rhetoric of so many Republicans. So he can do what he wants, and spend them into the poorhouse just in time for the midterms. My God, it's diabolically brilliant!

Posted by: T-Rex on March 29, 2010 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with ArkPanda. How in hell do you think this is going to pass muster with the accounting department? Why is Steele approving these expenses?

Posted by: Dave on March 29, 2010 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, please! Less of these posts- I'm running out of popcorn. . .

Posted by: DAY on March 29, 2010 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

The guy is seriously an Obama plant.

Posted by: Boronx on March 29, 2010 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

You know T-Rex, that kind of paranoia is something I can only hope spreads throughout their party's donor base.

Seems it has already though.

Posted by: Lance on March 29, 2010 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Why does anyone think their donor base cares? If you drive through many rural areas of the country -- some really conservative pockets -- you'll see fundamentalist churches and billboards against abortion near "adult clubs" advertising "GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS" or "TRIPLE XXX." You get the idea.

Posted by: Molly Weasley on March 29, 2010 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Remember that cop who arrested Sen. Wide Stance: "Embarrassing, embarrassing. No wonder this country is going down the tubes."

That is going to go into history books.

Posted by: Bob M on March 29, 2010 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

It's all a big misundertanding: he just stopped in to get directions to Pastor Rick Warren's church and make a phone call.

And left a tip.

Ah, that explains the 25c.

Posted by: ajay on March 29, 2010 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Nothing to add except a hyena-like laugh.

Posted by: shortstop on March 29, 2010 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

jeez, just how many gop staffers have access to the company credit card?

the rnc appears to have very lax controls.... lol

Posted by: bkny on March 29, 2010 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans - men and women - need to learn that non-procreative sex in other than the missionary position is OK. Republican women need to learn that it's something more than twice a year as a wifely submission and duty to hubby.

I've seen reports that hotel staff can always tell when a bunch of Republicans have visited for a convention - the sales of on-demand porno go way up, with the average time spent watching being less than 10 minutes. Does that tell you everything you need to know about the frustrations of Republican horndogs?

Republicans - the party of sex-starved perversion.

Posted by: TCinLA on March 29, 2010 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

You know, if Hillary Clinton had won the nomination, McCain might have looked for a black man to put on the ticket. Imagine McCain-Steele. Clinton might have carried all 50 states.

Posted by: Johio on March 29, 2010 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

A non-committee staffer? I'd have just said he stopped in to use the ATM. The ATM fees in clubs can be so outlandish...

Posted by: doubtful on March 29, 2010 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Even if it wasn't Steele, approving the expense for a strip club was Grade-A Stupid.

Posted by: Charlotte on March 29, 2010 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Putting the "parti" back in "bipartisan"?

Posted by: N.Wells on March 29, 2010 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

The RNC is not part of the government and how they spend their money is NOT the business of the liberal media.

Any of the liberal media who repeat this democrat propaganda will instantly reveal that they are in the employ of the Jesus hating democrat party and the Anti-Christ Obama.

Besides that, we would never have had this issue if we had not been forced, by an attempt at political correctness, to put a negro at the top of the RNC.

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on March 29, 2010 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

"Indeed, if Republicans fall short of their own sky-high expectations in the midterm elections, expect Michael Steele to receive the bulk of the blame."

Actually, I expect the wingnuts to claim fraud if they don't manage to take the House.

Posted by: Joe Buck on March 29, 2010 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Mikey is done.

Look at this from the standpoint of a big five or six figure donor to the Party. What is worse? That your Chairman drops $1964 at a strip club with a lesbian bondage theme? Or that money controls are so loose that a 'non-committee staffer' can submit a reimbursement request for $1964 with apparently no questions asked? If it were me I wouldn't care if the actual expense was for a week-long trip to Disneyland, that would not have been the reason I wrote the check. The 'it wasn't me' defense is not going to fly.

Steele better hope some checks are in the mail, because Q2 fundraising starts in two days and will be reported sometime in July, and those numbers are going to be sucky.

Deep pocketed Republicans have some options. RNC, RSCC, RHCC, State Parties, individual candidates and now post-Citizen United the ability to use pre-tax corporate dollars to simply hire their own ad agency. Why the fuck would any of these millionaires trust a dime to the Michael Steele Clown-Show?

As they say 'Money Talks' and the message it will be delivering as of today is 'Bye, bye'. Steele has not gotten it in his head that the Chairman of the Republican Party is not in fact its real head, instead he is the errand boy assigned to do what he can to advance the Party's interest on behalf of the actual stakeholders, whether those be the Donors or the Office Holders. And the guy was a compromise candidate to start with after the top two candidates deadlocked.

The only reason not to describe Steele as 'toast' is that some would find racial implications, instead we have to pick our own metaphors. But done is done.

Posted by: Bruce Webb on March 29, 2010 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

And it is a sad commentary of the level of thought and discourse today that I can't decide whether RPOV at 2:27 is snarking or not.

We live in a world where the 2000 Onion piece "Our Long Nightmare of Peace and Prosperity is Over" could pretty much be cut and pasted into the history books. It is pretty damn sad that you need a stronger Bullshit Screen to watch CNN than Comedy Central.

Speaking of Comedy Central, the White House Correspondants Association Dinner is coming up May 1st. Wanda Sykes was funny last year, but Stephen Colbert set the bar pretty God damn high in 2006. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Colbert_at_the_2006_White_House_Correspondents%27_Association_Dinner

Given the depth of material delivered in just the last week alone you hope the featured comic is up to it. Somehow I think Michael Steele's table with have a camera focused on it. If he shows up.

Posted by: Bruce Webb on March 29, 2010 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

I have wondered if Michael Steele isn't in place as an intended Republican jibe at affirmative action. In the wake of the Obama victory, with the Democrats having a strangle-hold on diversity related issues; why not introduce a buffoonish overreacher as the exemplar of the pitfalls of opening the tent.

Doesn't it seem odd that this aging male Southern and white party would put an African-American at the helm at this moment. The often cited argument is that, chastened by the 2008 election results they attempted a parry. I am suggesting the opposite.

Given this interpretation the constant fussing about whether Steele has gone too far takes on a new light. Part of the mythology of minorities in the workplace is that, once entrenched, they cannot be removed for actions that would result in the dismissal of 'ordinary' employees. We are constantly treated to stories of Steele's free spending with RNC resources, misuse of company funds, using company time for personal gain. We are told that he ignores the core responsibilities of his position to pursue his personal fortune, etc.

Confronted with these charges, Steele's response is the classic: 'Let them try to fire me..'

The other elements of the RNC leadership then must wring their hands, and proclaim 'What can we do? He has us over a barrel.'

Far from being an Obama plant, this view takes his role as a prescripted parody of diversity and a presumptive object lesson in its costs.

Posted by: T.J. Moran on March 29, 2010 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Steele is not as dumb as he seems. He knows the RNC is between a tiger and a cliff, so he's eating the strawberry.

Posted by: Master Mahan on March 29, 2010 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Women and minorities are found to be appointed to leadership positions when companies are in peril. This creates a 'glass cliff' effect, where such leaders are seen to be losers who kill the organizations they lead. This type of positioning may help account for both Steele and Obama, except that Obama is able to rise to the challenge, while Steele is . . . well . . . Steele.

Posted by: Daniel Kim on March 29, 2010 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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