Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How incompetent is the RNC?

This whole scandalette about the RNC reimbursing for a fundraising outing to a "bondage-themed nightclub" reveals that something is not quite right at the RNC. They might try to distance themselves from the story and stress that Michael Steele wasn't there, but he seems to be running a very loose ship.
The RNC’s February Federal Election Commission report shows a $1,946.25 reimbursement to Brown, the owner of an Orange County direct mail firm that has worked for top GOP candidates and committees, for “MEALS” at Voyeur.

The RNC, which came under fire earlier this month after POLITICO revealed an inflammatory fundraising presentation, has been doing damage control on the bondage story since the Daily Caller reported the expenditure Monday morning.

It emphasized that Steele did not attend and was unaware of the post-event foray to Voyeur, and announced an investigation into how the reimbursement, which the source said violated RNC policy because it was not affiliated with an official event, slipped through accounting procedures.

In a Monday night statement, RNC spokesman Doug Heye said, “The committee has taken appropriate steps to address the issues relating to the reimbursement of certain expenses,” including “personnel actions” and revisions of “accounting and reimbursement processes … to ensure that such an action cannot reoccur.”
One of the main jobs of the RNC is to raise money for Republican candidates. Who is going to want to turn over big bucks to an organization that doesn't know where their money is going?

Remember that this is the organization that thought it was a great idea in the middle of a recession when they're blasting the Democrats for their handling of the economy to hold the RNC winter meeting in Hawaii. What genius thought of that? And this whole bondage club story first arose in a Daily Caller story that focused on other wasteful spending at the RNC with Steele reportedly considering buying an airplane and all his spending for chartered airplanes and pricey hotels.
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.

The RNC explains that Steele charters jets only when commercial service is unavailable, or when his tight schedule requires it. “Anytime the chairman has taken any private travel has been a either to a route that doesn’t exist or because of connections and multiple travel to where he just wasn’t able to do so,” Heye said. Yet Steele’s office repeatedly refused to explain in specific terms the circumstances of the February charter flights.

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.

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.
Right there, even without the bondage nightclub, is enough reason for donors to close their checkbooks. Steele just seems too fond of the high life. Just as people don't want to see their elected officials wasting money, they certainly don't want to see the National Committee of the Republican Party spending donor money on expensive hotels and fancy trips. If they're going to be soliciting money from small donors hurting in this economy then the RNC has to demonstrate that it will spend that money wisely. There is nothing that Steele can do to reverse the damage he's done to the party by wasteful spending. I don't care if he knew nothing about the spending at Voyeur West Hollywood. He certainly knew that he was flying in chartered airplanes and staying in expensive top class hotels. Even without the titillating tidbits from the evening at a lesbian-themed nightclub, a man who doesn't have better sense than all that wasteful spending on his own comfort should not be leading the efforts for the party to be raising money for the fall campaign. He is a distraction and is proving incompetent at his major job and should go.

UPDATE: This excuse doesn't help.
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele was flying home from Honolulu the night young Republican donors and at least one RNC staffer – who has now been fired – were partying at Voyeur West Hollywood, a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex.
Am I the only one who is more upset about the "flying home from Honolulu" part of that sentence than the "bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex" section of the lede? Perhaps Steele can't be blamed for a staffer being an idiot, but he can take the blame for scheduling the meeting in Honolulu.