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. Republicans-R-Slime

    Way to go Michael Steele. How's living high on the hog off the dummies that contribute to the RNC.

    February 23, 2010 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  2. Nick

    "Come on people, get with it. It costs money to concoct lies and pay for smear campaigns."
    So not one Dem. has done this?

    February 23, 2010 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  3. Nick

    "That's the party of money for ya. They have plenty of it." Last I checked Obama destroyed McCain in campaign funds

    February 23, 2010 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  4. Aunt Bea and Opie

    He knew this job was just temporary.He will get a good lobby job and write a book.

    February 23, 2010 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  5. dgauss

    You fools are going for a repeat of 2008. You need to return to our roots of limited government, low taxes and individual freedom. Supporting McCain, a political traitor, is NOT in the Conservative interest!

    February 23, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  6. L for Legend

    Don't they need permission from Rush and Beck before they begin to forgive?

    February 23, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  7. Jim

    Financial Conservatism at it's best... Awesome....

    February 23, 2010 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  8. Dysfunctional Palin's Malfunctioning "Palm" Pilot

    Of course, there's always an "explanation" for "spending" when your a Rethuglican. It may be the biggest lie ever told, but inevitably defensible – you know, like the Palin family wardrobe and world history tutoring fees for the ignorant Saracuda . Remember, Mr. Cheney saying that deficits didn't matter? Hmm?

    February 23, 2010 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  9. If you want someting taxed, and ruined, elect a democrat

    WOW...you libs/dems sure hold a lot of hate in your heart. Are you just mad that conservatism isn't "dead" as most of you posted when Obama won? That you are upset because it is actually making a STRONG comeback? And please do not mistake conservatives for republicans. Many of you seem weak-minded and can only resort to name calling. Go ahead and grin as you nail the iron into your own coffin.

    February 23, 2010 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  10. Liberal4Obama

    If the "fiscally responsible" RNC cant stop it's chairman from spending like a drunken sailor how are they going to get the US deficit under control?

    Seriously and this ppl want Americans to trust them... nice try !

    February 23, 2010 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  11. Dale

    Don't blame me-Tea Party Taliban flys plain into Austin, tx building

    February 23, 2010 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  12. Conserve America!!!

    How is anyone surprised that Republicans can talk about fiscal responsibility but spend like morons? Isn't that how they governed? And they'll do it all again when they get back into power.

    February 23, 2010 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  13. molinewolf

    I think that Rush calls this behavior "uppidy". All of the republicans out there are saying what's the problem? We have lived like this all along, just with Abramoff paying for it. retards

    February 23, 2010 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  14. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    Safe? NO incumbent is safe this fall. That's the problem everyone thinks Congress is corrupt by not my representative. Well you know what if they are in Congress they are corrupt it's both of the major parties. If they accept money from outside the voting district that they represent they are corrupt. All those funds coming from Washington DC, lobbyists, PACs, Wall Street, banking, Unions, and other special interest groups outside of the state is nothing short of a bribe of your right for fair representation.
    Vote Congress out, “you are fired” if they are in. Vote them out this fall no matter what party they belong to, and in the next election and every election going forward until they become the servants of the people once more.

    February 23, 2010 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  15. Ohio D

    Snoore, tired of these stupid stories... Tell me what happened in College Basketball last night...

    February 23, 2010 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  16. Chris

    Could it be that he is taking in less money because the recession has reduced the money people are willing to give? Also people are angry that he is spending money on events to raise money just like every other fundraiser ever? Stop hiding the real news behind these meaningless stories CNN

    February 23, 2010 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  17. rdk

    Will any political party ever abandon the policy of tax, borrow, and spend? Bad habits are bad habits and the RNC and DNC seem to want to continue profligate spending wherever they can get away with it. The country is in trouble but political officials and operatives and government officials and operatives remain oblivious to the need for belt tightening.

    February 23, 2010 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  18. midwestmatt

    One more example of how completely out of touch and hypocritical my former party of choice has become. What a joke.

    February 23, 2010 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  19. jim in oregon

    All we can do is tag each other with stupid names and suffer the pure lack of COMMON SENSE! In the grand sceme of it all, these petty differences will undoubtedly be the ultimate downfall of our SPECIES!


    February 23, 2010 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  20. Hypocrisy Abound

    Stop your whining and get over yourselves. All of you are hypocrites who will support their party tooth and nail and then point a finger across the aisle at a group doing the same thing you just did and you'll scream bloody murder over it. Grow up and realize that our selfish natures are destroying this country...that is not just the politicians, but most of those who have commented on this story.


    God help me find a fiscally responsible, pro-life, pro-sexual equality, pro-racial equality, pro-military, pro-patriotism party...

    Wait, I'm insane...will never ever happen...

    February 23, 2010 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  21. Franky, Land of Lincoln

    Well I've never been a fan of earning more and deserving what you get, based on Equity Theory. Of course many factors come into play that if its your money and you are entitled and blah, blah, that I understand. But if you wanna be one of the locals, is not the best way to earn less than what you get and spend more on fancy rides to work, fancy meals, etc. Hollywood does that, not Conservatives but it does seem like both left and right make their end of the cash so is fair game in the end.

    I the end, is your money so if you are entitled to it, then be happy and waste it. This applies to Dems as well so is no secret. After all, it is the free market and everyone is entitled to how they wanna waste their profits or dough, is your money, that's it.

    But is true, Steele will be judged in wins and losses, not progress and style. is all about that W.

    February 23, 2010 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  22. Davon

    The sad thing is that people actually give this clown and this party their hard-earn dollars. Yet they have no ideas. It dont take money to say no. What a waste...

    February 23, 2010 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  23. jon doe

    Right......and you liberals are just doing a great job at getting things done........right.

    February 23, 2010 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  24. Randy T

    Wow, feel the hate. The only thing your gonna hate more is the November slaughter. Dems had their chance & blew it. The right is on its way again. I cant wait to listen to your screams then. Cut welfare & give away money programs and the Dems will moan & complain. Get a life, get a job, get educated. Take care of your own issues and everything will fall in line. Stop begging for a handout from the government / working people. Solve your own problems, then you will be a Republican !

    February 23, 2010 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  25. proud american democrat oregon

    this is way too funny . brown won because his apponent didn't get off her butt and try to win .. so any money steele is spending is just for him to live high on the hog .. its great to see the republicans complain about the same type of spending Bush Cheney did .. its the party of selfish greed and lies and threats of socialisum and capitalisum is rampent in the republican way of ripping off america ..

    February 23, 2010 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
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