February 23rd, 2010
06:01 PM ET
4 years ago

RNC defends spending habits under Steele

GOP donors have been privately critical of RNC chairman Michael Steele.
GOP donors have been privately critical of RNC chairman Michael Steele.

Washington (CNN) – Michael Steele's handling of Republican National Committee's bank account is under fire once again, thanks to a Politico story out Tuesday detailing some of the committee's expensive habits during Steele's tenure.

The story compared last year's RNC's financial disclosures with committee paperwork from 2005, the last comparable year before a midterm election, and concluded that Steele not only took in less money than his predecessors, but also spent nearly twice as much on items like car services, charter flights and fancy meals.

"Michael Steele is an imperial chairman," grumbled one GOP fundraiser to Politico.

But Steele adviser Doug Heye is defending the party's money management under Steele, a record that has irked a number of top Republican donors who have sought out other party committees when cutting checks ahead of the midterms.

"We are focused on two things, raising money and winning elections," Heye, the RNC's communications director, told CNN. "In the past year we have raised over $90 million, we have sent money directly to state parties and have won three statewide elections," he said, referencing gubernatorial wins in Virginia and New Jersey along with Scott Brown's victory in the Massachusetts Senate special election.

Heye also e-mailed reporters Tuesday attacking the "anonymously sourced" Politico article and offering "some context and a fuller picture" than what he said was reported.

He pointed out that the Democratic National Committee had only slightly more cash on hand at the end of January ($10.2 million) as the RNC ($9.5 million) – and said that unlike their Democratic counterpart, the RNC has no debt. As for the spending, Heye wrote: "It costs money to make money."

The RNC, for instance, spent $10,000 on one fundraiser with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich last year at Spago, the upscale Wolfgang Puck restaurant in Beverly Hills.

But Heye argued that the RNC must be "more aggressive than the DNC in its fundraising efforts" because Democrats control the White House and both chambers of Congress.

"Therefore, a fundraiser with Newt Gingrich at Spago (an event that cost $10,000, but raised $53,000) or events such as inviting donors to a Redskins game become necessary," Heye said in the e-mail, noting that Democrats have also doled out large sums to hold fundraisers at fancy venues.

Ultimately, he said, Steele will be judged on wins and losses. He is up for re-election as chairman next January.


Filed under: 2010 • Michael Steele • Popular Posts • RNC
soundoff (131 Responses)
  1. Chris - Denver

    Good. Keep wasting your donors' money on perks. That is the best possible use the RNC could make of these funds, rather than deploying them to spew lies and hate as usual.

    February 23, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  2. Deb (Long Island)

    HaHa...the party of FISCAL responsibility. Laughable!

    February 23, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  3. Eunice Ervin

    Steele, go and visit Dick Chency. Something for you to do positive.

    February 23, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  4. Jane/Seattle

    All this obscene CASH needs to be spent on food and shelter for the most needy among us. Were these fake self-serving parasites to forego the spending of money so frivolously, the american people would note this and let them "serve". Folks like Dennis Kucinich and Bernie Sanders and now Alan Grayson understand what it means to speak truth and try, against all odds, to do the correct actions for the majority. Anything less than redirecting this money does not reflect the lies that people profess under religious belief systems! This goes for our entire system. It squanders wealth on false values and then wonders (and lies) about where the money went! But then again, this IS a construct which could be de-constructed for the common good were so many not getting rich in it's service! ABOLISH MONEY AND FIND THE TRUTH OF HOW TO LIVE IN HARMONY AND LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER. Peace

    February 23, 2010 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  5. hongli

    It will be imperative that the RNC get rid of Michael Steele because the Party generally belongs to the white people as we saw in the TEA PARTY GATHERINGS and a lot of white Republicans are sceptical of Steele's work and are withholding their large contribution and this story today will just add gas to the fire. I'm certain if a polling was done today the percentage of support for him will be very slim among the RNC which is the Racial National Congress.

    February 23, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  6. LIP

    The Republican party needs to reaccess the way they solicit for donations. When you give money to an organization, they shouldn't turn around and spend twice as much to try and get more money out of you. Phone calls and weekly literature is wasteful and definitely not "Green" and Steele is directly responsible.

    February 23, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  7. The Voice

    So much for the GOP understanding or listening average Americans. They are full of crap.

    February 23, 2010 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  8. Carol

    Always different for them. What a joke theRNC is, on every level.

    February 23, 2010 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  9. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    This ain't about money, the RNC has finally figured out a way to officially get rid of Steele, all the writing was on the wall. Steele will be left with the only responsibility of announcing he's fired.

    February 23, 2010 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  10. Clint, Wa.

    You woundn't want him to live, eat, or travel like a low middle class American would you?

    February 23, 2010 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  11. Wayne

    It's the Republican way. They are against big government and don't like it when the Democrats increase spending because it gives them a smaller pot to steal from.

    February 23, 2010 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  12. Hi I'm TriG, and my mommy scares me :-(

    As for the spending, Heye wrote: "It costs money to make money."

    Funny how that only applies to the RNC and not the economy.

    Very funny.

    February 23, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. sammieb51

    Don't the quotes "We are focused on two things, raising money and winning elections" and " ... concluded that Steele not only took in less money than his predecessors, but also spent nearly twice as much on items like car services, charter flights and fancy meals" sort of contradict themselves?

    The proof is so 'in the pudding' for the GOP, they are lucky their 'constituents' are so stupid they can't realize how destructive this party is for them. Read the Shock Doctrine folks, wake up.

    February 23, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  14. bostonianTheWoodlsndsTx

    Do as thy say,not as thy do........

    no big surprise here. The RNC only 'tolerates' Steele. If it weren't for President Obama, he be waiting tables at RNC fundraisers.

    February 23, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  15. 60's survivor

    pots calling kettles black. do you really think politicians on the whole are working for you. LOL. no they work for the status qou. which in reality is not to support the average. and increasingly poorer American citizen.

    February 23, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  16. Joel Miller

    Republicans preach frugality but are the party of extravagance. From the Palin's pricey wardrobe during the campaign to Steele's luxurious spending, these guys know you don't pimp the country to the rich without flashing your cash.

    February 23, 2010 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  17. Freedom

    Michael Steele leads the real Conservative Party . Spend lot`s of money and then complain the democrats are spending money.

    February 23, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  18. Ellie

    Yeah RIGHT..... wait until the money is GONE, GONE, GONE. Then we'll be hearing a whole different story about how Micheal Steele ROBBED them blind, blind, blind.

    February 23, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  19. Jay

    I'm waiting to Steele and the RNC to put in a request for some of the stimulus money to balance their accounts. Of course, the Republicans in office will decry this as a wasteful use of federal dollars that does not produce positive results or lead to jobs in their districts, will vote against it when it comes up for a vote on the floor, then take the money and proudly pose for pictures with giant checks written out to their political action committees.

    February 23, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  20. EDDIE

    Aren't they the party of fiscal responsibility?

    February 23, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  21. Costello Williams

    this dude wouldnt even have a job if President Obama wasnt Black.

    February 23, 2010 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  22. Mike in Dallas

    Won't matter a bit as soon as the unlimited corporate donations start rolling in (thanks to a right-wing tilted sotus). Individuals will have no say in governing of this country, not that we have that much of a say anyway.

    February 23, 2010 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  23. al in memphis

    "We are focused on two things, raising money and winning elections," Heye, the RNC's communications
    _____________________________________________________

    Now that there are no limits to corporate donations, neither of these should be a problem- Unless the American people start looking at the issues and ignoring the rhetoric.

    Here an idea, why don't both political committees spend some money on finding canidates with some good ideas instead of one who can repeat their political chorus.

    February 23, 2010 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  24. Allen in Hartwell GA

    The GOP always have good reasons why they spend money – it's just spending by Democrats that the GOP can't stand.

    February 23, 2010 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  25. Marie MD

    Nothing says thrifty more than to hold a convention in Hawaii while the rest of the country is having problems putting food on their table and/or don't have a roof over their heads.
    Anyone watch John Oliver (Daily Show) interviewing some of these people? They are talking about wasteful spending and they are too clueless to understand that what they were saying only showed that they were spending/wasting the money.
    $10,000 for $53,000 – doesn't seem like enough does it?

    February 23, 2010 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
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