December 22nd, 2009
05:36 PM ET
3 months ago

Gibbs jumps on Steele report

Gibbs quipped over a report Steele is making thousands of dollars off paid speeches.
Gibbs quipped over a report Steele is making thousands of dollars off paid speeches.

(CNN) - White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs couldn't help but pounce on a Washington Times report Tuesday that Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has received thousands of dollars in paid speeches since becoming chairman of the GOP.

While not delivering a formal response to the report, Gibbs sarcastically asked the White House press corps Tuesday how much Steele was paid to conduct the recent conference call in which Steele declared Democrats were "flipping the bird" at the American people with their health care bill.

Gibbs later returned to the subject when a reporter's cell phone interrupted the briefing, leading Gibbs to declare that if Steele was on the line it would cost $30,000 to answer the call.

Gibbs' comments come hours after the Washington Times reported Steele continues to garner between $10,000 to $15,000 in paid speeches across the country at "colleges, trade associations, and other groups."

Though the practice is not illegal according to the RNC's own polices, several former Republican Party chairmen are quoted in the article criticizing Steele, saying the chairmanship is a full time job in itself.

Gail Gitcho, an RNC spokeswoman, told CNN in a statement that the whole controversy is "silly."

"Many Democrat and Republican national chairmen have regularly received outside income," Gitcho said. "Michael Steele has been giving inspirational speeches based on his personal story long before he was elected RNC Chairman and will long after."

"Chairman Steele of course does not receive compensation for any speeches conducted in his duties as Chairman," she continued. "He is more than a full time Chairman, is in complete compliance with all RNC rules and regulations, and is wholly focused on growing the Republican Party."


Filed under: Michael Steele • Robert Gibbs
soundoff (199 Responses)
  1. Mike

    Hey, way to work together and not look like a spoiled kid in the sand box (BOTH SIDES)! Oh wait, maybe we need some closed door meetings to talk about how transparent this whole issue is..

    December 22, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  2. Joe in NJ

    Since when is it the job of the WH press secretary to insult and put down people? As a mouthpiece for Obama, he's not setting a good example.

    December 22, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  3. Moderate Democrat

    Come on people, don't act so surprised. It's common practice for republicans to SELL OUT and tell fairy tales to crowds.

    December 22, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  4. stevegee

    Robert Fibbs has no room to criticize anyone.

    All he does is get paid to spout lies to keep the PropOganda Machine running. This administration will go down in history as the worst ever!

    December 22, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  5. George

    Steele is a jerk. The same kind of a jerk as the rest of the Republicans in Washington. The ones that are the death panels. All they want is for people to die because they are working poor and they can't afford insurance. They wine and dine on insurance money while the working poor are dying. They are all a disgrace to America. They have no values other than money values.

    December 22, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  6. Carl Abernathy

    Does Gibbs actually get a salary for his stammering and bumbling?

    December 22, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  7. Bob in Pa

    So why even make a point of it Gibbs ? Lets talk about how much money US politicians take in from running PACs. That would get my attention.

    December 22, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  8. Ex-NC-Pub

    Gibbs' comments come hours after the Washington Times reported Steele continues to garner between $10,000 to $15,000 in paid speeches across the country at "colleges, trade associations, and other groups."

    It is the Republican way; just ask old "you betcha your bottom dollar" Palin.

    December 22, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  9. Jim

    Bill Clinton earned $31 million in speaking fees between 2001 and 2005. Pot Kettle Black

    December 22, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  10. Wayne

    Flipping the bird at the American people. Bush, Cheney and the Republicans did that during Bush's entire administration.

    December 22, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  11. EVERY TIME A REPUBLICAN DRAWS BREATH ...

    it's an obscene gesture.

    December 22, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  12. Ken in NC

    Mr. Steele is the "Flipping Bird". Sarah "Sure SHot" Palin and "Shot Gun Dick" Cheney are bird hunting. Make your noise now M. Steele. You make your noise now and Palin or Cheney are sure to blow out out of the sky or out of the water.

    December 22, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  13. joec

    There is no question that this is a racially motivated attack. Gibbs is a racist and should be removed.

    December 22, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  14. Andrew

    Give Steele a break! He's a leading face of the party that serves the rich, and the corrupt corporations – there are some dems in this mix as well. With the rich $ corporations already in their pocket, that leaves the ignorant where Steele is perfect for the job.

    December 22, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  15. Tom

    As a Canadian looking in from the outside on this crucial health care debate I cannot help but recall that this level of division, of heated partisan rhetoric is exactly what transpired in Canada in the '60's when our then Prime Minister (Tommy Douglas) dragged the entire country kicing and screaming into a nationalized health care program. There was talk of bankrupting the government then as well and people thought he was committing political suicide. Some 50 years later and Douglas is recognized as the most important historical figure in the history of our country... ever. Solely due to his vision on national health care. True leaders have the vision and the courage to make seemingly unpopular decisions and let history be their judge. Douglas had that strength and so does Obama now.

    December 22, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  16. Andrew

    Give Steele a break! He's a leading face of the party that serves the rich, and the corrupt corporations – there are some dems in this mix as well. With the rich and corporations already in their pocket, that leaves the ignorant where Steele is perfect for the job.

    December 22, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  17. Audrey in VA

    Doesn't Mr. Gibbs get paid to give speeches too? The only difference is Mr. Steele gets paid by the RNC's patrons. We have no choice but to pay Gibbs to spew hot air.

    December 22, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  18. Lynda/Minnesota

    No doubt Steele is getting paid per word for his long winded, often incoherent, grandstanding speeches?

    Why people would pay good money to hear him speak, let alone any one pay him TO speak, is beyond me.

    December 22, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  19. j williamson

    Would Steele be the RNC chairman is he were white? This Republican window dressing insults both whites and blacks.

    December 22, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  20. Bill NC

    Question: Would you pay .05 to hear this nitwit?
    Me either...

    December 22, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  21. Jim

    @Sniffit

    LOL, you are truly sad. The point which has fallen from your short periphery is these politicians all make large sums of money. I find both political parties and their followers truly narrow minded and can only think their party is right all the time, hence the problem we are in now.

    December 22, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  22. chelle

    K2 December 22nd, 2009 1:40 pm ET

    So, will Gibbs be ridiculing Obama about his book royalty income???

    Ummmmmmmm K2, the President wrote those books long before he was elected. His income from those doesn't derive from his current job. Mr. Steele's does....

    December 22, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  23. joec

    All these libs on this board are truly hypocrites. Obama and Hillary taking money for book deals. Buying votes from Landreau and Nelson in what amounts to bribery. What bunch of short sighted buffoons. Corruption is through all politics and your talking about a small amount of money in comparison. Grow Up.

    December 22, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  24. notfooledbydistractions

    "inspirational speeches"? From Michael Steele?!

    It's more like stand-up comedy than inspiration.

    December 22, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
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