February 23rd, 2010
06:01 PM ET
8 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. Steve (the real one)

    Wayne February 23rd, 2010 4:45 pm ET

    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
    @Wayne BOTH the DNC and RNC operate on PRIVATE funding, and not government funding. I hear what you are saying and both parties should lead by example but your argument really does not apply with private funds! I will say both parties make it harder for us to trust them, not just the DNC or not just the RNC but BOTH!

    February 23, 2010 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  2. Otto

    Michael Steele is a very smart man, remember he is suppose to be the answer to the "black" resident.
    I'll bet my last dollar, if John McCain had won the Presidency, there would be not Steele. I betcha!

    February 23, 2010 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  3. Jackson

    No surprise the RNC can't manage a thing. They destroyed this country financially, allowed the war criminals Bush and Cheney to go unpunished, and now their Supreme Court appoints have declared "We the people" dead. I hope the Republican party dies a sick, lonely, and painful death.

    February 23, 2010 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  4. Hi I'm TriG, and my mommy scares me :-(

    Awww, just come out and say what you have wanted to say ALL ALONG about Steele every since your plan to "see what brown can do for you" has back-fired:

    Full Metal Jacket
    Animal Mother: All fudging naggers must fudging hang.

    February 23, 2010 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  5. ahetch

    That's the party of money for ya. They have plenty of it.

    February 23, 2010 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  6. Steve (the real one)

    Let's start taxing both the DNC and RNC at (at least ) 10% of what they raise. Since the are so interested in paying down the debt, they should have no issues with that, right??

    February 23, 2010 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  7. S Callahan

    Give the guy a break...the whole landscape of politics has changed dramatically over the last two years....it's definately more mobile...it's hard to differentiate a local election from the national..as they seem so meshed now. Let things settle alittle and then do a fair evaluation.

    February 23, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  8. CR

    Sound fiscal management is obviously not a Republican priority. Who in their right mind would trust the GOP with anything ever again anyway?

    February 23, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  9. GDI

    "We are focused on two things, raising money and winning elections," Heye, the RNC's communications director, told CNN.

    Nothing in there about the country's best interests, I note. Zero on ethics and accountability to boot.

    Tragically typical. *sigh*

    I'm going to have to punch a straight ticket if you GOPers can't field better than what you've got. I hate doing that. It undermines my sensibilities and intelligence.

    I like to keep my ballot mixed as a function of what I research and learn about my candidates.

    Bet you won't see a post like this on Faux!

    February 23, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  10. The Unsub

    Poor fella, he doesn't even know what he got himself into. I actually pity the fool.

    February 23, 2010 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  11. Marty, FL

    So-called "fiscal conservative" is a sad fallacy for my former Republican Party. It is difficult to understand how fellow Americans can continue to fall for gullible campaign slogans/nonsense.

    The GOP sadly does just the opposite while in power, and Steele creates another example of it.

    February 23, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  12. found work without help of stimulus or obama

    i'm a Republican, but I WILL NOT VOTE for a Republican till Steele and all the rest of the OLD CROWS are thrown out.

    February 23, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  13. A keen observer

    Who cares how the Dinosaur Party spends its money. Steele needs the perks because he is the token for the racist, radical Republicans.

    February 23, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    Man, wish I wasn't in meetings all day. I apparently missed a fantastic day of GOPer hypocrisy here on the Ticker:

    1. "We didn't block health care reform: you have a supermajority but your own blue dog democrats did it for us" versus "the blue dogs are all extreme leftist liberals who mindlessly support Obama's agenda"

    2. Obama says "antitrust laws should apply to the insurance industry" versus more idiot GOPers regurgitating the words "communist" and "socialist" at it

    And now this. I think I need a nap...all this hypocrisy makes me feel like I ate something that gave me food poisoning...but in my brain.

    February 23, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  15. Bill R

    Steele is practicing Trickle Down Economics, and its working out for the RNC as well as it has worked out for America. Raised less money while more was spent on lavishing Steele and his elistists while the rest of the Teabaggery wait for their welfare checks to shop at Walmart. Great job Steele, a true Trickle Down Economics practicioner. Now Steele demands you Teabaggers give more money, or how will Steele afford Caviar for his Teaparty Crackers.

    February 23, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  16. cy west

    I find it very interesting that all these guys talk about is raising money and winning elections.
    I never see any word about a specific concrete plan or an idea about taking care of the country's business or solving problems.
    All I see is finger pointing laying blame on the other guy.
    Like the comedian once said, "We should put all politicians on commission". CSW

    February 23, 2010 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  17. Texas Granny

    Add in there the RNC's recent winter meeting at a posh resort in Hawai'i. I'm all for promoting tourism to Hawai'i (it's their life blood) but I really think the RNC could have found a suitable location on the mainland which would have cost WAY less just in airfares alone.

    February 23, 2010 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  18. Alex in Wisconsin

    "It costs money to make money"-Heyes

    That, for all my conservatives friends, is a very progressive idea. Hope the Tea Party agrees with that extremely progressive concept. Would hate for the Tea people to mistake the RNC for liberals.

    February 23, 2010 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Marty, FL
    – you really are at a loss as a vast majority of this country are fiscal conservatives – NOT LIBERAL IDIOTS, thank goodness or we'd be in even bigger trouble than we are not with Nobama – 4 and the door POTUS!

    February 23, 2010 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  20. debbie

    This is the same group of people who thought nothing of spending 200 grand on Sarah Palin's campaing wardrobe. Yet healthcare for American people is just too too expensive.

    February 23, 2010 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  21. jake

    I agree with Steve(the real one), make both parties pay 10% tax on what they take in and apply it to the national debt.

    February 23, 2010 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  22. Robert

    Exactly how the GOP spent under Bush and will spend again if given control.

    February 23, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  23. Charlie in Maine

    "spent nearly twice as much on items like car services, charter flights and fancy meals"

    Oh man they are trying to take away the only good part about being a Republican. If you can't live a lavish life style at the expense of others you might as well follow your conscience and be a Democrat. Seriously you will be so happy helping others that you won't miss the perks.

    February 23, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  24. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Come on people, get with it. It costs money to concoct lies and pay for smear campaigns.

    February 23, 2010 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  25. R. Williams

    If campaigns were financed with equal public funds, there wouldn't be this mad money grab by both parties, and maybe the people we elect would be more concerned with doing their jobs than scrounging more donations.

    February 23, 2010 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
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