Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 31, 2010

DEAR RNC, LET THE EXPENSE REPORTS GO.... The Republican National Committee was knocked on its heels this week in a story the party would no doubt prefer to forget. Publicly-available expense reports showed that the RNC had made a variety of odd spending decisions, most notably the nearly $2,000 charge at "a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex."

In the wake of the story, the RNC fired one of its employees, and the controversy was starting to die down. But today, the Republican National Committee, in its infinite wisdom, deliberately brought party expense reports back to the attention of political reporters.

In hopes of redirecting incoming fire about its spending habits, the Republican National Committee on Wednesday tried to turn scrutiny to the spending habits of the Democratic National Committee but came up with nothing nearly as risque as almost $2,000 in expenses for a night out at a bondage club and no private planes.

It tallied up, instead, two years worth of catering, luxury hotels and limousine bills.

RNC Chairman Michael Steele has been widely criticized for his expensive travel tastes -- especially for using private jets and car services. An e-mail from RNC Communications Director Doug Heye pulled together DNC expenses dating back to October 2008.

"The DNC spent at least $2,204,000 for luxury hotels and caterers," Heye writes at the top of the e-mail.

At face value, the RNC's research appears to be legit. Over the last 18 months, the DNC really did spent $2.2 million for luxury hotels and caterers. That's probably supposed to sound scandalous, but it's actually a rather dull observation -- parties host events at nice places. It's all pretty routine. If the sum total of the RNC expenditure reports had to do with nice hotels and caterers, few would have even raised an eyebrow.

But therein lies the point: the controversy surrounding the RNC's spending included a lot of money on private planes (a practice that did not turn up in the DNC's reports), and nearly $2,000 at "a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex."

I can't help but wonder what genius at the RNC thought it'd be a good idea to bring all of this back up. They poured through DNC filings looking for dirt, and they came up with mundane hotel and catering expenses. The smart thing to do, then, would be to say nothing more about expense reports, and instead work on changing the subject.

But, no. The RNC thought it'd be fun to hit the hornets' nest with a stick, and then hang around to kick it a little more.

DNC spokesperson Hari Sevugan seemed only too pleased to respond to the RNC's latest efforts.

"The RNC got in trouble not because it was doing traditional fundraising at hotels, or holding meetings at hotels -- and we've never raised that issue. They got in trouble with their donors because they are spending more money than they are raising (deficit spending is a pattern with Republicans) and because they are doing so in part at sex clubs. [...]

"[I]f Republicans want to compare our spending to their spending and allow us to say Michael Steele approved spending money at a Hollywood sex club a few more times -- that's fine with us."

The RNC should appreciate the value of quitting while they're behind.

Steve Benen 4:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (37)

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Comments

They are hopeless. Perhaps they should run on repealing the expense reports.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on March 31, 2010 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Sevugan is consistently good. I love a spokesperson with a little bite to him.

Posted by: shortstop on March 31, 2010 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

The word is "pored," dammit, "pored." /pedantry

Posted by: David in NY on March 31, 2010 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

The DNC isn't an organization that supposedly supports family values yet blows money at sex clubs. In other words, it isn't about blowing money on stupid things, it is about blowing money on stupid HYPOCRITICAL things.

What surprises me most is that nobody that I've seen in the MSM has brought up the big RNC scandal of a couple of weeks ago in relation to this new scandal. I am speaking of the RNC memo laying out their fundraising approach of fear-mongering the poor and appealing to the egos of the rich. And, of course, schotzkies.

What I'm wondering is if maybe what they were doing at the bondage club was purchasing schotzkies for their big dollar donors. Maybe they bought sex toys in bulk with the "RNC" logo on them. Heck, I'm no fan of the GOP, but I could come up with a couple of amusing uses for such items. Those uses would NOT be what the items were intended for, I assure you of that.

Posted by: Ha Ha on March 31, 2010 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Never say that Repubs can't do two things at once. While they were combing through the DNC spending reports (and pouring who-knows-what over them), they also, in excess of caution, cancelled all the other upcoming fundraising schemes that the Young Eagles had been hatching. Never know when an eagle-laid egg might turn out to be a goose. Or a cuckoo. Even the gun-fun at the Blackwater training base got axed.
http://washingtonindependent.com/81103/rnc-scraps-blackwater-fundraiser-other-young-eagles-events

Posted by: exlibra on March 31, 2010 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

So wait, I'm confused. Who are they defending against here? It wasn't the Democrats that uncovered Steele's spending in the first place. It was Steele's rivals within the GOP. So let's say Steele were right Tim Kaine had done similar things at the DNC-- what would this gain him? It means he's safer from Tim Kaine taking is job?

Posted by: mcc on March 31, 2010 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Criticize a Democrat, s/he says, "That's not true!" and defensively attempts to prove it.

Criticize a Republican, s/he says, "But they're/you're just as bad!" and hypocritically attempts to misdirect you.

Posted by: Quatrain Gleam on March 31, 2010 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Did they "pour" it through a sieve? Or did they "pore" through it?

Posted by: Horace Fudpucker on March 31, 2010 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Never say that Repubs can't do two things at once.

Exlibra, they can do a lot more than two things at once. For example, there are 360 degrees on a compass---and they can lie without end to each and every one of those degrees at the exact same time.

Of course, I suppose that explains why the Sunday talk shows all come across as "cheap Vaudevillian talent-show tryouts...."

Posted by: S. Waybright on March 31, 2010 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

The RNC has the idea that if they deflect ATTENTION away from themselves, the voters will re-elect more of them come November.

?

All donors need feeding. It's accepted practice to get extravagant, but not exotic.

The 2.2 million spent by the DNC is a mere blip when you rack it up against the RNC's numbers.

How much has Steele spent again?

Stopping the media coverage on this will be as difficult as sticking your finger in a dike (and yes, I spelled it correctly)

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on March 31, 2010 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

ha-ha wonders What surprises me most is that nobody that I've seen in the MSM has brought up the big RNC scandal of a couple of weeks ago in relation to this new scandal. I am speaking of the RNC memo laying out their fundraising approach of fear-mongering the poor and appealing to the egos of the rich. And, of course, schotzkies.

Why does this surprise you? Our 'liberal' media is ignoring this story because it doesn't fit into their concise narrative of the parties (Democrats overreaching liberal agenda, Republicans standing against that agenda).

Besides the press feeds on the fear. It's their bread butter. Their ratings go up when they scream, "THE SKY IS FALLING!!!"

The bondage club thing is getting play because it involves sex but the story never gets any deeper. Most news outlets skim right over the amount spent private planes and limos or fall into the Republican trap of saying Dems spend a lot of money to.

Posted by: thorin-1 on March 31, 2010 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Look for media to start comparing $2000 to $2.2 million...

OMG! It's 1100 times bigger!!!

Posted by: TonyB on March 31, 2010 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

When I look at Michael Steel I get the impression that there goes a guy who really likes him some kink.

And John Bohner looks like he spends most of his time wrestling young men in a pool of carrot juice.

I realize they market themselves to the dumbest segment of the American population, but I don't see how anybody could be stupid enough to think they are serious people.

Posted by: Giggles on March 31, 2010 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

The main players in our bodypolitik would do well to take the lesson offered by General Ramos immediately after PeoplePower overturned the corrupt results of Ferdinand Marcos' last presidential election. He vowed at a time of vulnerability he would not cling to power and begin a losing game of, in his words, "Recriminations." He stepped aside while Corizon ascended to the presidency, and as a result, the Philippine people rewarded Ramos with acclaim at a later date.

For us, we need no more demagogues! Just a few states(wo)men would do us a whirl of good!

For us, it just seems perverted that an apology for anything is out of question, while another charge against the other is more convenient to make - such a dynamic is cancerous to a democratic society!

Don't expect anything to change very soon! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 31, 2010 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Just for comparison: what are the numbers for the RNC for the same period and for similar activities? I'm sure the RNC's expenses for hotels and catering is comparable, if not higher. But, if they are less for the RNC, don't you think they would have published those figures? I'd love to see the DNC demand those reports for all RNC expenditures over the same 18 months and place them side-by-side. HMMMMM?

Posted by: st john on March 31, 2010 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Who cares how much the DNC spent? How is that in the least relevant?

This is NOT ABOUT HOW MUCH WAS SPENT, BUT WHERE IT WAS SPENT!!!!

Posted by: Capt Obvious on March 31, 2010 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

And, I wonder what the HI event cost/person?

Posted by: st john on March 31, 2010 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Capt Obvious: You are right,and, if they want to make an issue of how much the DNC spent, I'm sure the Dems will come out of that one OK, also. If not, then back to WHERE IT WAS SPENT!

Posted by: st john on March 31, 2010 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Typical. The RNC (and GOP) never DENY they are scum, they just spend their time spreading their scuminess around. 'They do it TOO' whether it's apples to apples or apples and oranges. Worry about your OWN party, bubs!

Posted by: SYSPROG on March 31, 2010 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

St John - But what would the Democratic equivilant be? The Republicans are the "Family Values" party that has been caught loving on some lesbian bondage porn. What is the Democratic equivalant?

Without engaging in hardcore snark I don't have any idea. This is the problem with holding yourself out to be morally superior like the Republicans have been doing for decades.

Posted by: Capt Obvious on March 31, 2010 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

And, in the end, the RNC will make it up to fit their agenda, anyway, so it doesn't much matter what facts are used. And, the MSM will do their bidding.

Posted by: st john on March 31, 2010 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

the Republicans will never quit while they're behind. You know why? In a (technically not real) word: Monicagate. They spent years and years, and millions and millions of taxpayer dollars, to prove Clinton broke one law, and eventually was unable to prove it. BUT they caught him lying under oath about an extramarital affair with an intern. With that, the GOP, many of them ass-deep in affairs of their own (looking at you & your fat ass Newt), impeached the President for lying about oral sex. Because of this, they looked like petty vindictive thunderdolts to Dems and to the rest of the industrialized the world, but they set the stage and infuriated just enough voters to steal an election and change the world far for the worse, yet I'm sure they will look back on as "the god times," they're just that morally bankrupt. So they learned a very bad lesson - never quit while you're behind, you never know when you'll strike gold - but they learned it well.

Posted by: slappy magoo on March 31, 2010 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Capt Obvious has a point, but

a) So what if the Dems spent a $1million at strip clubs - we never ran on "family values" so who cares?
b) It was the Reps that brought this up in the first place, not the Dems, so WTF cares?

As the saying goes, if your opponent wants to self-destruct, get out of the way.

Posted by: Marko on March 31, 2010 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

They fired one of those punk staffers, I bet.

Posted by: CDW on March 31, 2010 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure about how all this "who pays how much for what" business goes, but I do have a couple questions? Within the past 18 months, didn't we have some high-profile national elections? Doesn't some of the $2.2mil get attributed to that?

Posted by: Ken on March 31, 2010 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

RNC = Republican Nudie Club??

Posted by: Moxo on March 31, 2010 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

"The Republicans are the 'Family Values' party that has been caught loving on some lesbian bondage porn. What is the Democratic equivalant?"
Posted by: Capt Obvious on March 31, 2010 at 5:47 PM

We don't have to hypothesize or theorize; the Pubbies have already done this for us.
The Dem "equivalent" is Algore (I have less than no idea why they write his name like that; apparently it's an insult of some kind, but mysterious are the minds of the Pubbies) daring to live in a big house while warning about the potentially catastrophic effects of AGW. He apparently also flies in airplanes.
And John Edwards living in a big, and expensive, house, while ostensibly bemoaning the poverty, and lack of real, accessible opportunities for advancement, in which too many Americans live (because if he really cared, he couldn't possibly be wealthy himself).
And Michael Moore is fat.
That's about it.
And no, it doesn't make any more sense to me, either; but it's not totally surprising that people who apparently have a Kelvin zero recognition of their own hypocrisies, inconsistencies, double-dealings, and downright deceits, would not be terribly trenchant, or even anywhere near accurate, in identifying analogous failures in others.

Posted by: smartalek on March 31, 2010 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

"The RNC should appreciate the value of quitting while they're behind."

Aaah, but that'd make them all Sarah Palin clones, quitters, quitters, quitters, which would actually be good for America, if all the Republicans just quit, like quit watching Faux News and listening to fools like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, like quit threatening other U.S. citizens, like quit trying to ram their hardcore right-wing religious agenda down the throats of all other freedom-loving Americans, like quit being homophobic racists. This type of "quitting" by Republicans might actually boost their intelligence and humanity levels, as well as increase their patriotism quotient and reverse their slide into oligarchical corporate-owned religious-bigoted racist-driven fascism. Oh well, one can dream.

Posted by: The Oracle on March 31, 2010 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, in 2 years the democrats can barely spend as much on luxury hotels as the Republicans can spend on a single sex club in one night?

I'm outraged. Sorry, Obama. You're pretty good on policy and stuff, but you Democrats clearly aren't providing the value for my political donation that the GOP does.

Posted by: Jon on March 31, 2010 at 10:43 PM | PERMALINK

Knock, knock, hello? Isn't anybody seeing the bigger picture? Why focus on one issue here when this is a twofer. Didn't anyone notice the RNC spent more than they took it? Hello deficit spending by the personal responsibility and family values crowd. If they're not responsible with their own money how can they be responsible for the taxpayers?

Posted by: flyonthewall on April 1, 2010 at 5:51 AM | PERMALINK

Knock, knock, hello? Isn't anybody seeing the bigger picture? ... Didn't anyone notice the RNC spent more than they took it?

Why, yes. Hari Sevugan is directly quoted to that effect in the post you're commenting on.

Posted by: shortstop on April 1, 2010 at 6:32 AM | PERMALINK

Why, yes. Hari Sevugan is directly quoted to that effect in the post you're commenting on.

I know, but it seems the bigger item is the Voyuer issue. I guess I'm asking too much of the media to walk and chew gum at the same time. Sex sells, but deficits created by republicans only sell for republicans.

Posted by: flyonthewall on April 1, 2010 at 7:39 AM | PERMALINK

First comment wins the thread.

Posted by: Gregory on April 1, 2010 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

Whole bunch of very mean Democrats here - Have you no sympathy for those poor young RepuGs being restricted to Branson, Missouri?

One night with "Hotties"; next, back to the Osmands.

Posted by: berttheclock on April 1, 2010 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

yo soy deprimida ...
Have a nice day

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Posted by: Truden on April 4, 2010 at 3:48 AM | PERMALINK

Sevugan is consistently good. I love a spokesperson with a little bite to him.
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