Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 23, 2010

REVERBERATIONS FROM THE RNC'S HIDDEN-DEBT PROBLEM.... Other news stories this week helped keep the Republican National Committee's problems off the front page. That's a silver lining, however, to an otherwise massive cloud.

We learned on Wednesday that the RNC's own treasurer believes the party deliberately failed to report more than $7 million in debt to the Federal Election Commission recently, as part of a scheme to make the RNC's finances look better than they really are. Hiding off-book debts is not only illegal, it also points to more system problems at party headquarters.

The Republican National Committee's disarray -- ABC characterized it as a "civil war" -- comes at a bad time for the party, and Marc Ambinder reports that Republican strategists fear the "chaos" at the RNC could lead to electoral consequences.

During midterm elections, the national committee plays two essential roles. First, it serves as a bank account that can be drawn upon to shore up House races or put others into play. Second, it coordinates the party's field operations and funds joint "Victory" committees with state parties. The RNC, at the moment, is barely fulfilling the second function and has less than $10 million on hand, so it cannot help much with House races. [...]

The degraded political environment, the sluggish or non-existent economic recovery, and the enthusiasm of Republican base voters are intangibles that, properly harnessed, could easily put Republicans over the top. But without a solid field program to bring voters to the polls, and with ranks of well-funded Democratic incumbents, that edge could be lost on election day.

The party's well-regarded political director, Gentry Collins, has seen his budget slashed considerably, and state parties have complained about the condition of the party's Voter Vault datamart. Many state parties are outsourcing their targeting operations, which would have been unthinkable during the flush years of the Bush-Cheney administrations.

The latest scandal, involving $7 million that the RNC's own treasurer categorized as unreported debt, will undermine any opportunity the party has to regain its financial footing before the election.

Remember, as we talked about the other day, what makes this story serious is the fact that it has multiple angles, all of them bad news for the RNC. We have (1) the in-fighting among RNC officials, with the chairman going up against his own treasurer; (2) potentially illegal accounting tricks; (3) weak RNC fundraising in advance of a critical election season that necessitated the illegal accounting tricks; (4) another distracting scandal for Steele to deal with, just a few weeks after the last one; and (5) the fact that the controversy itself steps all over the Republican message of fiscal responsibility.

Oh, and for good measure, also note that if the FEC penalizes the party for its accounting tricks -- which seems likely -- the RNC would likely have to pay fines before the election. That's money the party would much prefer to spend on competitive races.

There's a reason Democrats tend to look at Michael Steele as the greatest party leader of all time.

Steve Benen 8:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (16)

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Comments

Rumor has it that ex-senator Norm Coleman is eyeing Steele's job. . .

Posted by: DAY on July 23, 2010 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

C'mon, ACORN, that great Liberal 'voter suppression' machine STOLE the RNC's money, authorized by The Usurping Kenyan, with the help of the NAACP, and the NBPP.
Poor Michale Steele, he's the victim of a racist plot to suppress the white voters around this great country.
For shame, NAACP and your Kenyan Overlord. You should be helping you black brother in this time of crisis. Not leaveing him 'hung' out to dry by a Liberal 'lynching.'

Wanna bet someone tries this angle soon?

Posted by: c u n d gulag on July 23, 2010 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

A civil war in the RNC? lol. I'm not sure this is what the Republicans intend when they talk about the tree of democracy being refreshed from time to time.

Posted by: square1 on July 23, 2010 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

Will Rove's group, American Crossroads, make up the difference?

Posted by: Questioner on July 23, 2010 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

It is hard to see how republicants use reason and logic in mapping out anything more distant than lunch . Norm Coleman is a perfect booschie stooge . A welcome consideration now that everything booschie conforms to BPKKKeColirepublicant aspirations .
This should stroke the massive ego of the lil booschie puppet himself , even if he still needs troopers to keep offending tee shirts from his pure mind and eye .

Posted by: FRP on July 23, 2010 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

"...all of them bad news for the RNC"

In what alternate multiverse is this - or anything at all - bad news for the RNC and the Rethugs generally? Everything is always good for Republicans always, and ever shall be world without end amen, also.

Posted by: katie on July 23, 2010 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

Michelle Bachman says if they regain the majority, every day they will have investigations on democrats, this is a laugh considering the party she is from, we could start with Ensign, Darryl Issa's sweetheart deals on foreclosed properties & previous car theft charges,Steele's scandals, and have Bush Cheney ever answered the international war crimes commission?

Posted by: Joan S on July 23, 2010 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

If the Republicans were smart, they'd dump Steele and have George W. Bush take over. His experience in business before being President would be a boon for the party finances.

Posted by: Wapiti on July 23, 2010 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

Don't agree with the ABC slant.

The primary reasons that the Rs will very likely underperform in November, given the crap economy:

- No ideas
- Terrible candidates
- Some voters will remember who broke the economy

The forces that have driven all the intelligent pragmatic people far from the Rs - leading to all of these problems - are much older and more serious than Michael Steele.

So he will make a convenient scapegoat if the underperformance is profound - but these are structural problems, not tactical.

I don't know what will happen in November. But I am pretty sure that the Rs will be weakened by their idiot candidates. Just look at Nevada...

Posted by: DavidDuck on July 23, 2010 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

The RNC is just applying Bush/Cheney policy to their own finances. Remember how the cost of the wars were kept off the books?

Posted by: Gridlock on July 23, 2010 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Next time you see Boehner on TV - with the idiot Cantor standing one step behind with that sick grin on his face -
just think - would you buy a used car from this duo?

Posted by: JS on July 23, 2010 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe Steele is a secret liberal who's been playing a very long con for the last 30 years, planning to get into a position of power in the Republican party and destroy it from within. Kinda like how Obama is a secret islamo-fascist non-citizen whose parents faked his US birth so that he could one day become president and destroy America.

Posted by: kahner on July 23, 2010 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

I'd bet my house that the $7 million debt is just the tip of the iceberg. Steele is an arrogant, none too bright con man, he likes to live large and I wouldn't be surprised if he's been dipping into the till. Here's hoping the you know what hits the fan well before November.

Someone suggested coming up with a short catchy phrase to characterize the GOP that could be repeated by the Dems over and over like the Republicans do since the party of no is getting old. My suggestion is "party of failed ideas", as in do you really want put the party of failed ideas back in power. Someone else could come out with a better one but I think it's a good idea for this blog to submit ideas to Steve. Sadly, our elected congresspeople don't seem too good at this and Steve must have the ear of someone if a firecracker phrase is suggested.

Posted by: Kathryn on July 23, 2010 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK
Someone suggested coming up with a short catchy phrase to characterize the GOP that could be repeated by the Dems over and over like the Republicans do since the party of no is getting old. My suggestion is "party of failed ideas", as in do you really want put the party of failed ideas back in power. Someone else could come out with a better one but I think it's a good idea for this blog to submit ideas to Steve. Sadly, our elected congresspeople don't seem too good at this and Steve must have the ear of someone if a firecracker phrase is suggested.

That's a good idea Kathryn, but I suggest something shorter like, "Republicans, the party of failure."

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on July 23, 2010 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans hiding debts off book - gee what a surprise.

This is what Bush did by not putting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in his budget. By using supplemental war funding it hid the true costs.

Posted by: wbn on July 23, 2010 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

BOOM! Baby! Off the book, er hook!

Posted by: Patrick on July 23, 2010 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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