Washington (CNN) - An ally of Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele claimed Tuesday that the so-called "purity test" being circulated by some RNC members is a publicity stunt designed to "stick it" to Steele after he defeated other candidates for the chairmanship in last January's election.
"You've got a few backbenchers who are unhappy," said Shawn Steel, an RNC member from California and one of the chairman's top supporters on the committee. "They don't have the power they once had under the previous chairman, and that's what motivating this. This is an attempt to stick it to Chairman Steele by the losers."
The resolution, still in draft form when it was leaked to reporters late last month, would prohibit party funds from going to GOP candidates who disagree with elements of a proposed 10-point ideological platform. The proposal has sparked a pointed debate between conservatives who want candidates to adhere to strict principles and moderate Republicans who want to broaden the party's appeal.
Citing e-mail exchanges with his fellow committee members, Steel estimated that almost 80 percent of the RNC opposes the purity test. "This resolution will fail," Steel told CNN. "It will absolutely fall on its face. The resolution was just to stir the pot. It's for reporters."
Steel made similar assertions in a Politico op-ed Tuesday about the resolution and alleged that the resolution's chief sponsor, Indiana committeeman Jim Bopp, Jr., is frustrated because he lost a legal contract with the RNC once Steele became chairman.
Contacted by CNN, Bopp called that claim a "flat out lie" and said he is still representing the RNC. Bopp said he isn't sure why Steel is targeting him with "personal attacks," but suggested that his fellow committee member "feels he is losing the argument and the only recourse he has is personal attacks."
Bopp stressed that the resolution "has nothing to do with Michael Steele."
"It has to do with the desire of RNC members to take every reasonable step to re-establish our conservative bona fides, and put out money where our mouth is," Bopp said.