May 7th, 2010
06:09 PM ET
5 years ago

RNC fires finance director in wake of spending scandals

Two RNC staffers have been fired in the wake of two scandals.
Two RNC staffers have been fired in the wake of two scandals.

(CNN) – The Republican National Committee has fired Finance Director Rob Bickhart in the wake of a two embarrassing scandals that originated in the committee's fundraising department.

Deputy Finance Director Debbie LeHardy has also been removed from her post.

RNC Chief of Staff Michael Leavitt informed the RNC's 168 members of the decision in an e-mail Friday.

"As you may of heard, the Chairman has asked for the resignation of Rob Bickhart and Debbie LeHardy from their positions in the Finance department," Leavitt wrote. "While we appreciate their service to the RNC and wish them well in future endeavors, the Chairman felt it was important to restructure the department in order to continue to improve on our strong fundraising numbers."

Bickhart, a veteran GOP hand on Capitol Hill, was reportedly behind a powerpoint presentation to Republican donors in February that promised a 2010 fundraising campaign based on "fear" of President Obama and socialism. The presentation also derided GOP donors as "ego-driven" and easily swayed by "tchochkes." Steele was forced to publicly denounce the document when it was made public in March.

A bigger scandal erupted later that month when it was revealed that the RNC approved a $2,000 expenditure at a Hollywood nightclub featuring topless dancers in bondage gear. That news set off a firestorm within the party and resulted in the departures of several top RNC officials, including then-Chief of Staff Ken McKay and longtime Steele consultant Curt Anderson.

Both stories exacerbated worries among top GOP donors that the committee, traditionally the Republican Party's biggest fundraising machine, has mishandled its finances under Steele.

Bickhart will be replaced by Mary Heitman, formerly the finance director for the Republican Governors Association and RNC deputy finance director under former Chairman Haley Barbour.

"We are well positioned for victory this fall and look forward to working with Mary to continue to improve upon our strong fundraising numbers and provide the support necessary to win elections," Steele said in a statement.


Filed under: Michael Steele • Popular Posts • RNC
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Scarecrow

    Mr. Leavitt wrote:

    "As you may of heard,
    the Chairman has asked for the resignation of Rob Bickhart and Debbie LeHardy from their positions in the Finance department,"

    Has he forgotten that OF is a preposition? "As you may OF heard," ??? NOT!!!!

    May 7, 2010 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  2. Dale

    Republicans peddling fear? Say it isn't so!

    May 7, 2010 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  3. You Lie

    And this means what... Only that the GOP needs your money. Thr Flavor of the party was reflected in thos recently fired – Publically to send a message.... You can think and act like us – but do it behind closed doors... The same ole GOP – nothings really changed.

    May 7, 2010 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  4. Betty

    In November, the electorate will proceed to fire a lot more GOPers.

    May 7, 2010 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  5. Save America, impeach the treasonous republicans

    Republicans spent some of their donor's contributions on lesbian sex and bondage. The rest they just wasted.

    May 7, 2010 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  6. Ken in NC

    And these people want me to put more of them in public office? I wonder what they have been smoking.

    May 7, 2010 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  7. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Interesting that Steele would fire and replace 2 finance people but can't hire 2 communication people that quit.

    May 7, 2010 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  8. CR

    They were just doing the bidding of the Republican Party, promoting fear, selfishness, and hatred. Only fired because they're activities were publicly exposed. Steele needed scapegoats.

    May 7, 2010 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  9. Livin' the good life

    Another one bites the dust

    >OWHey, Hey<

    Another one bites the dust...

    And another ones gone and another ones gone,

    Another one bites the d-u-s-t...

    Just like dominos fall, can you say "Karma"?...Beau Colby

    May 7, 2010 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  10. Save America, impeach the treasonous republicans

    The new tea bagger GOP is made up of R-OIL's. Republican Oil Interest Lovers.

    May 7, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  11. LouAz

    Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic ?

    May 7, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  12. Donnatella

    Everybody gets the ax except Michael uncle tom Steele, he should be ashamed of himself letting these people take the fall for him. This is the party that is suppose to be fiscally responsible, yea right, they won't get my vote in November they can't handle their own finances.

    May 7, 2010 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  13. DCBill

    More Steele "CYA ."

    He really isn't up to the job and most Democrats, I know, hope he'll stay right where he is and logical consequences follow in the November elections.

    May 7, 2010 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  14. ehwilson429

    it's there money. spend it where they want.

    these consultants don't even care who wins elections as long as they make $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

    May 7, 2010 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  15. jloome

    It'll be interesting to see how Republican supporters feel about the fact that a prime member of their inner circle has such obvious contempt for the money that supporters their party.

    Avaricious individuals feeding off other avaricious individuals, I guess.

    May 7, 2010 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  16. Real American

    RNC, why not make matters simple for yourselves and unify fund raising efforts under the slogan "We'll do anything Big Oil, Big Insurance, Big Banking and Wall Street tells us to do" and skip the bondage acts and smaller donors altogether. Or even more simple "You pay, we play".

    May 7, 2010 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  17. thomas

    Ohh ,
    I can't say I'm sorry to see them go !
    Steele will get the axe after the Fall elections , he's a perfect yes man, fall guy .

    TURN OUT THE LIGHTS " THE PARTYS OVER" !

    May 7, 2010 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  18. Gil

    It's not finances it is their priorities. We are sick and tired of their no, no, no and mor no! It is time for some yes! I know it is hard for morons to think, but maybe the Party of No should try it once!

    May 7, 2010 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  19. Dave

    Two down...one to go........Steele needs to be next!!

    May 7, 2010 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  20. FRANK - LAS VEGAS

    In should be Steele who leaves. I guess he doesn't believe that the buck stops at his desk, it's always someone else with him isn't it.

    Just remember one thing, Vote NO in NOvember to the party of NO.

    May 7, 2010 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  21. Alan Codi

    And the Buck stops where?

    May 7, 2010 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  22. SM

    "While we appreciate their service to the RNC and wish them well in future endeavors, the Chairman felt it was important to restructure the department in order to continue to improve on our strong fundraising numbers."

    It's nice that the reason they let them go was so that they would be in a better position to take more of your money. Maybe you should think about restructuring so that you can actually practice what you preach about fiscal conservation.

    May 7, 2010 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  23. DWCSR

    The can't fire them!!! I just bought stock in a stripper pole company.

    May 7, 2010 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  24. Jentra

    Think again, Mr. Steele, if you think Republicans are positioned well this Fall for victory. That will not be as to do that is to change the climate in the country who overwhelmingly has gone Democrat because they see what the Republicans do and do not want any more of that kind of management in their affairs and daily lives. Nice try but no cigar!

    May 7, 2010 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  25. Kevin

    I wonder if these firings would've happened if the scandals had not been brought to light? I doubt it. Stupid is as stupid does.

    May 7, 2010 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
1 2