Washington (CNN) – Republican National Committee Political Director Gentry Collins, a respected political operative in GOP circles, quit the committee Tuesday with a biting letter to chairman Michael Steele complaining in detail about the party committee's troubled financial situation.
"Sadly, if left on its current path, the RNC will not be a productive force in the 2012 campaign to deny President Obama a second term, retain our House majority, and elect a Senate majority," Collins wrote in the letter, which was also sent to members of the RNC's Executive Committee.
Read the full letter
The letter was first reported by Politico and later provided to CNN by a member of the committee.
Collins, an Iowa campaign veteran, wrote that the committee "allowed its major donor base to wither" and collected just $170 million this cycle compared to $243 million during the 2006 midterm cycle.
Much of the money, he wrote, came from small donations online instead of personal solicitations from the chairman.
As a result, Collins argued, the RNC was "dramatically under-resourced" during the midterm cycle, handcuffing state party victory operations and perhaps costing the GOP 21 additional House seats "that could have been competitive if not for lack of funds."
The sharply-worded missive is striking not just because of the timing, as multiple Republicans dissatisfied with Steele's leadership line up to run for the top RNC post in January, but also because the publicity-averse Collins chose to remain on staff at the committee throughout several personnel shake-ups that saw the departures of other skilled strategists.
The letter seems to verify whispers among Republican operatives that Collins, behind closed doors, vented to Steele and other top RNC staffers about the committee's use of funds, including disbursements to party organizations in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
UPDATE: RNC spokesman Doug Heye emailed the following statement in response to the news.
“For the first time in 16 years the Republican Party held neither the White House or either Chamber of Congress. Despite lacking that fundraising advantage, the RNC was able to raise more than $175 million, over $24 million more than the RNC raised during the entire 1994 cycle and over $36 million more than the DNC raised during the entire 2006 cycle, indexed for inflation. Our resources enabled us to expand the playing field to all 50 states and break records with 45 million voter contacts, over 200,000 volunteers, 360 Victory field offices and 358 Victory field staffers. These accomplishments are shared by our entire team at the RNC as well as volunteers, donors and state parties. Their efforts enabled us to contribute to the most successful elections for the Republican Party in modern times.”