Michael Steele, RNC Chair | Republican cash spent on strip club?

Michael Steele, RNC National Chairman

Michael Steele, on the right, has faced criticism for his spending. Image from Flickr.

Michael Steele, the head of the Republican National Committee, is continuing his high-flying, high-publicity controversy today with accusations of RNC money being spent on exotic dancers, private jets and gourmet catering. Just last month, Michael Steele faced accusations of over-spending the RNC budget on swank restaurants and private consultants. Today, Jonathan Strong of the Daily Caller posted his reading of the RNC federal disclosure records. Among other things, the Republican federal disclosure reveals that the RNC paid for an almost $2,000 trip to Voyeur West Hollywood — a “bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless dancers.” The debt repair for the Republican Party may take a while; Michael Steele has spent $109.6 million of the RNC’s money, while his fund raising efforts have brought in $96.2 million.

Voyeur West Hollywood may not have seen Michael Steele

Though Michael Steele is the head of the RNC and was in Los Angeles at the time of the Voyeur West Hollywood charge, the Republican National Committee is disputing that he actually visited the strip club. In the line immediately before the Voyeur West Hollywood charge, the Republican federal disclosure contains a matching payment to Erik Brown, who is a Republican direct mail consultant. No matter whether Michael Steele actually attended the event where $1,946.25 worth of “meals” were charged at Voyeur West Hollywood, as the RNC Chairman he had to approve the expense. The Republican National Committee is launching an internal investigation and requesting that the strip club reimbursement be returned to the RNC coffers.

Michael Steele’s other RNC expenditures

In addition to the $1,946.25 spent at the West Hollywood strip club, Michael Steele has been the head of the Republican National Committee during many other disputed expenses. A fund raising trip in California included a $9,099 bill at the Beverly Hills Hotel and $6,596 spent at the Four Seasons. Michael Steele has also used $17,514 worth of private planes and $12,691 worth of private vehicles in February. The Republican National Committee has responded to these allegations by saying that these expenditures are guaranteed loans – necessary for bringing in the high-dollar donations that the RNC relies on to fund their political activities.

Michael Steele angering some Republican National Committee Members

Michael Steele has been the head of the Republican National Committee since January of 2009. One large Republican party contributor was quoted saying Michael Steel “fancies himself a presidential candidate and wants all of the trappings and gets them by using other people’s money.” Michael Steele has also faced serious criticism for spending RNC money on high-end catering from Wolfgang Puck where previous heads of the RNC used Chic-fil-A. In April of 2009, the Republican National Committee passed a new rule that any checks from the Republican National Committee be signed by two officers.

If Michael Steele was present at the Voyeur West Hollywood dance club or not, the RNC federal disclosure makes it clear that the Republican National Committee is spending more money than it is taking in. At a time of economic downturn, many American Republicans are beginning to question if the Republican National Committee is spending fund raising dollars wisely.

The Washington Post
The Baltimore Sun
Newsweek / The Gaggle

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