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. fielding mellish

    Oh those free spending Repubs...always the hypocrites.

    February 23, 2010 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  2. Jason

    DUH: The Republicants are the ones who spent & spent under the Bush administration without any regrets or complaints. Now that Obama is trying to fix the messes started by Bush, Iraq & Afghanistan, several trillion spent there, for what? A failed Medicare drug program that costs more than most spend a month on drugs! A increase in gas prices to fund Cheney's & Big Oils profits at the expense of the tax payers. Remember that "rebate" check you got in 2007 from King George, where did most of us spend it? At the gas pump. Cheney made $80 Million off his oil stocks, What did you make?

    The GOP has ZERO room to complain about spending now, when THEY wasted a budget surplus with insane tax cutting. America is in the deep end because of under taxing. Taxes need to be raised NOW!! But NOT on persons income.

    February 23, 2010 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  3. John L Mendez

    I Pray for Michael Steele's Salvation with respect to his possible misuse of funds. We are all Sinners. Now, that Steele is being investigated may he find the opportunity to Repent for his Sins and accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Amen.

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

    Somebody comment about this pleaseeee, thats what is this party about spend on fancy meals and talk about the other party.

    February 23, 2010 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  5. VernisRobertson

    Their lying about the money they raise . Maybe Steele financing his own private party . The Republicans are spending to much money , paying these people to act like idiots at those Tea Party"s and Town Hall circus .

    February 23, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  6. Angy

    those hateful repugs sure are doing a lot of in fighting. they are so hateful they can't get along with each other. LYING LOSERS!!!!!

    February 23, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  7. bearced

    Conservative Republicans in action!

    February 23, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  8. Marty

    The who's who of the GOP are always picking on Steele. Another black man they would like to see removed from decision making. They are so stupidly transparent. They will do and say anything to regain power, even though they have no solution to the most mundane problem this country faces. If they do, I would surely appreciate hearing one. Cutting taxes don't count. They always say that because they would have to use their brains to come up with something else. I am so tired of their bellyaching. They need to get to work and do their job.

    February 23, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  9. What a Joke

    Are you sure Michael Steele isn't secretly a democrat? Seems as if he is doing what the GOP is complaining the government is doing too much of – SPENDING!!!!! You be the man.

    February 23, 2010 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  10. master6118

    Not surprising that the RNC can not manage their finances. They couldn't manage the countries finances when they controlled congress and when they controlled congress and the presidency.
    They rant on and on about deficits, but ask them what programs they would cut and you get waste,fraud, and abuse, public broadcasting, foreign aid, and americorps. All those together add up to less than 2% of deficit spending.
    One of their leaders, congressman ryan released a budget alternative to president obama. out of 160 gop members of congress, exactly 9 came out in favor of mr ryans proposal.
    ever since the gop aligned themselves with grover norquist and the club for growth their true, undeclared agenda has been to bankrupt the government. they claim this is the only real way to reduce the size of government . this would have a disasterous effect everywhere in our own country and around the world. It tells me that the gop is not fit to govern and that the republican leadership is dishonest, irresponsible. and near treasonous.

    February 23, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  11. Mark Maxwell

    typical modern day GOP mentality - spend, spend, spend without having any way to pay for it .. just like Reagan & Bush Jr did when they were president.. Hey how about a rebate to big doners to stimulate the economy?

    February 23, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  12. An 8 year old ELEPHANT dung heap, does not transform into compost in just 1 year!

    The Reds no longer need a "token", as Chairman, Mr. Steele.

    After your numbers at CPAC, your days are numbered.

    Cons have a new poster boy of color Mr. Rubio, he is already visiting states to get some presidential capital flowing.

    As of now you are the official Chia pet of the Rabid Nazi Committee

    Of course, to show your still a player, Steele, trim that moustache so it is just an inch wide!

    February 23, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  13. Socialism...keeping police/fire stations, roads, justice system and the military out of the hands of Capitalists

    "We are focused on two things, raising money and winning elections,"

    So where does "America first" enter your focus?

    February 23, 2010 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  14. Juan

    Spend Michael, Spend. Just make sure you don't spend more than a million a day. Have it your way, and the rest can take the highway.

    February 23, 2010 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  15. Hypocrites

    "Red" as in "red ink"

    February 23, 2010 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  16. Conserve America!!!

    Michaeal Steele–the gift that keeps on giving. Both to affirmative action opponents and to Democrats. Pretty impressive to unite those two groups like that.

    February 23, 2010 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  17. snood

    Reading all the Chenay comments makes me laugh at how the Dems are the tollarate party and the reps are the party of hate. just makes ya laugh. both parties are hypocrates

    February 23, 2010 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  18. ray

    hang all rep..........

    February 23, 2010 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  19. Bob

    Listen, money is no object, because as soon as the GOPers take back power in 2020, they will jack up energy costs, and pay themselves all over again by criminally selecting their friends' businesses over objectively-priced competitors.

    February 23, 2010 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  20. Hi I'm TriG, and my mommy scares me :-(

    Oh god, will you Republicans just lynch the man and get it over already.

    You know you want to ;-)

    February 23, 2010 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  21. Mark

    Steele is taking the RNC for all their worth. He is overly self-indulgent and grabbing personal benefits as fast as he can.

    February 23, 2010 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  22. Mark

    Let's not forget the "vacation" in Hawaii that was supposed to be a conference. How could it NOT have been cheaper to hold it on the "mainland".

    February 23, 2010 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  23. emma

    This boy needs a good knock out punch from his former brother-in-law, Mike Tyson.

    February 23, 2010 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  24. Albert R. K. . L.A., CA

    And the Republicans want to do for you what they do for the Republican National Committee - SPEND on themselves!

    February 23, 2010 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  25. Dumbasrocks [R]s

    More [R] hypocrisy. And the deluded GOP apologists will be on here soon, proferring their knucklehead fairytales about how this is all good....or maybe that its Obama's fault....or?.....the sky is the limit when you don't have to conform to reality.

    People who continue to support the GOP are insane, retarded, or both. That party and the people who supported it FAILED horribly in congress from 1994 to 2006, and they FAILED even more miserably in the presidency in 2000-2008. The net result of all that habitual [R] FAILURE, and the failure of the American public to vote it out sooner, is the just-missed economic depression that their backward policies almost got us into. And the mangled leafage is so dense inside the skulls of the remnant [R]etards that all they can do is shrilly cry 'socialism' when the adults finally take over to clean up their pre-pubescent catastrophe.

    February 23, 2010 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
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