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. regis

    How come not even one republikkkans are defending this man !!!! By the way Michael did you call dick to wish him well ??? I just hope my tax money is not paying for his health care.

    February 23, 2010 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  2. Rani McBride

    All you hypocrit Republicans make me laugh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 23, 2010 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  3. Marty, FL

    Anonymous (whoever you are),
    I happen to vote for the candidate, not the party, but I can remember President Bush coming into office with a budget surplus.

    What happened?? Yes, that's WHY I left the GOP. Will not be fooled again, thanks.

    February 23, 2010 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  4. hal

    What about the Democrats and the way they spend their money?! Nancy Pelosi spending thousands of dollars on flowers!! Give me a break!

    February 23, 2010 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  5. The Unsub

    Steele is the one who said, "a million dollars isn't really a lot of money"

    February 23, 2010 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  6. RobertFTL

    This only illustrates the hypocrisy of the GOP and Teabaggers! They only have sound bites and NO solutions.

    February 23, 2010 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  7. ChicagoDB

    Keep selling out you own kind Steele

    February 23, 2010 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  8. bjon

    The Black President and the Black RNC Chair. Anything a Black man does is going to be looked at closer than usual. Leave both of them alone and you'll be surprised that they, as Black men, are just as capable as the White man!

    February 23, 2010 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  9. Victim of GOP Taliban

    How trivial. Too bad the fascists didn't care about running up the biggest deficit back when they controlled Congress and the White House for 6 years.

    February 23, 2010 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  10. Kali

    Everybody get your support for Steele ready! The Dems haven't had so much fun in years.

    February 23, 2010 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  11. No Incumbents 2010

    Republicans hate excessive, wasteful spending.
    Steele engages in excessive, wasteful spending
    Ergo, Republicans love Steele as their leader.

    February 23, 2010 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  12. johnrj08

    The RNC can't very well fire Steele. He's one of the few people of color in the entire party. Firing him from such a high profile job, no matter how incompetent he might be, might lose a few votes. And the Republican Party is doing all it can right now, including lying, to get votes.

    February 23, 2010 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  13. Jim

    A $10K dinner at a Wolfgang Puck restaurant in Beverly Hills. Hardly a "grass roots" fund raiser. This does show the RNC focus though: the Rich.

    If you aren't invited to an expensive dinner or Redskins game, then the Republicans aren't your party.

    February 23, 2010 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  14. Josephus

    Really? He spent the RNC's own money on car service and this is even a story.

    If he were Nancy Pelosi, he would have just taken military aircraft at the expense of the taxpayers (my how some of you forget recent history). Don't worry though, she is more than willing to borrow from your children to foot the bill!!!

    February 23, 2010 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  15. craig

    Hilarious! Palin must have given him some tips on how to budget. They can't even trust each other!

    February 23, 2010 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  16. Paul

    Democrats – take the log out of your own eye.
    Republicans – take the log out of your own eye.
    We need a second party. DemoRepugs are the Progressive Party.

    February 23, 2010 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  17. Donnatella

    Oh, please, this is why I could never be a republican, the hypocrity is unbelievable, you have to be really stupid not to read between the lines. I guess all you need to do nowadays is just say you hate Obama and your in. That's all it take, I predict the next republican candidate will be the one the hates the president the most. LOL

    February 23, 2010 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  18. CF

    Spend, spend, spend. Typical Republican. They are no "fiscal conservatices." The Bushes and Reagan spent more than any Dem, raised the deficit more than any Dem.

    February 23, 2010 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  19. 8 Years of 2 Wars and Tax Breaks, did the shrub pass out in Econ 101 at Yale?

    Yo' brutha Steele, just say you are "donating it all to charity" after your time in office is done!

    February 23, 2010 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  20. rosslaw

    The RNC is standing up for Steele's fiscal responsibility? That's like Sen. Dave Vitter receiving the hooker endorsement on the Disney channel. Well, I for one think that Steele's doing a grand job and a $10,000 dinner for a retread like Newt is money well spent-not for the RNC necessarily but for the country.

    And the comment on anonymous sources-I would think the RNC should show a little respect for anonymous sources like Dick (I have a heart!) Cheney and his efforts to slime Joseph Wilson for speaking the truth.

    February 23, 2010 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  21. Chris

    I agree with the statement about the 'Imperial' nature of his spending, and yea that seems to be the neo-con way. Marie Antoinette must of been the inspiration for Republican fiscal policy.

    February 23, 2010 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  22. Stephanie

    Mr. Michael, you are doing a GOOD job. Surprise Cheny, with a visit as a worthy comrade would do. You may put out of his MISERY!!!!

    February 23, 2010 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  23. once upon a horse

    yep the Republicans are going to take back the house and senate in November and turn this economy around and the Tea baggers and Palin lovers will cheer.......but they don't spend, right?

    February 23, 2010 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  24. Andrew (Lima Ohio)

    Could you really expect him to live like an average Joe? He is, after all, the leader of the GOP. Most of those punks at the top don't even know lower middle class people, let alone experienced it.

    February 23, 2010 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  25. annie against biased news

    It is nice to see politicians irking politicians as all politicians continually irk all of WE THE PEOPLE who have the horrible task of paying their stolen salaries and seeing nothing in return.

    February 23, 2010 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
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