December 22nd, 2009
05:36 PM ET
8 years ago

Gibbs jumps on Steele report

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Gibbs quipped over a report Steele is making thousands of dollars off paid speeches."](CNN) - White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs couldn't help but pounce on a Washington Times report Tuesday that Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has received thousands of dollars in paid speeches since becoming chairman of the GOP.

While not delivering a formal response to the report, Gibbs sarcastically asked the White House press corps Tuesday how much Steele was paid to conduct the recent conference call in which Steele declared Democrats were "flipping the bird" at the American people with their health care bill.

Gibbs later returned to the subject when a reporter's cell phone interrupted the briefing, leading Gibbs to declare that if Steele was on the line it would cost $30,000 to answer the call.

Gibbs' comments come hours after the Washington Times reported Steele continues to garner between $10,000 to $15,000 in paid speeches across the country at "colleges, trade associations, and other groups."

Though the practice is not illegal according to the RNC's own polices, several former Republican Party chairmen are quoted in the article criticizing Steele, saying the chairmanship is a full time job in itself.

Gail Gitcho, an RNC spokeswoman, told CNN in a statement that the whole controversy is "silly."

"Many Democrat and Republican national chairmen have regularly received outside income," Gitcho said. "Michael Steele has been giving inspirational speeches based on his personal story long before he was elected RNC Chairman and will long after."

"Chairman Steele of course does not receive compensation for any speeches conducted in his duties as Chairman," she continued. "He is more than a full time Chairman, is in complete compliance with all RNC rules and regulations, and is wholly focused on growing the Republican Party."

Filed under: Michael Steele • Robert Gibbs
soundoff (199 Responses)
  1. demmie2

    weak diversion from this health care fraud & bribery scandal

    December 22, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  2. jacq

    Steele is only head of the RNC so it looks like their not racist,plain and simple,he has no control over how money is spent they took it away from him he is just a mouth piece.The republican form of affirmative action

    December 22, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. Hip Hop out the door

    Bye Bye Michael Steele!! What will it be ? More time for the family? More time to dig my career grave? More time to kiss Dick Armey's you know what?

    December 22, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  4. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    I wonder how Steele's 10 communist principles of the republican party are working out for republicans.

    December 22, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  5. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Steele needs speak intelligent to people instead of always using that street jive talk, we're not all from the ghetto.

    December 22, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  6. Dee G. - CT Voter

    Honestly, if Steele doesn't think he's just a pawn in the Repugs game, he's more delusional than I gave him credit for!

    December 22, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  7. brainns...

    he should make a hip hop album. "Tom'in it up with Big Uncle" so he can get it to the hip hop urban suburbans.

    December 22, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  8. bobbymcgee

    Sad to say there are no longer any "MORALS" in America! And it is even MORE interesting to think that remarks like those of Michael Steele are just "common place" and "right in style" in America! And to think the Republicans and the Republican right arepromoting themselves as the most Christian and "holy" people in America??????? Wonder what happened to the "Ten Commandments" that were certainly a part and parcel of the Christian and Catholic Church rituals for thousands of years????????? WE NO LONGER HAVE A SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE!!

    December 22, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  9. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    No wonder only 20% of the population claims to be republican. Oh wait, with Parker Griffith's defection, it will be over 20% now.

    December 22, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  10. Jenn, Philadelphia

    I'm so glad the Administration has changed the tone in Washington DC like candidate Obama promised.

    December 22, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  11. Mike in MN

    Trying to change the subject Gibbs? Whether Steele should be paid for giving speeches or not has nothing to do with the clear fact that the Democrats have been 'flipping the bird' at voters on every single piece of major legislation passed in 2009. Polls show that voters oppose the bank bailouts, auto bailouts, stimulus, cap and trade, health care reform and the record setting pork filled spending bills.
    Steele is not running for office.
    Gibbs buddy Obama and his Democrat buddies in the House and Senate will be in 2010 and 2012. Voters are pissed off big time. A Wall Street Journal poll shows the Tea Party movement is more popular than the Democrat party. The Tea Party movement is a movement that started out of pissed off voter frustration. They are part of the majority of voters that the Democrats have been flipping off. Every time Democrats flip off voters by passing bills a majority oppose, voters get more pissed off and the Tea Party gets more recruits for its cause. Democrats are toast in 2010 and 2012.

    December 22, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  12. Murf

    Say it with me people "follow the money". His appointment was a lame attempt to pander to black voters, just as Joe Lieberman's position against health care reform is due to his not wanting to bite the hands that feed him. Cmon guys, try working just a little harder to cover-up your true motivations.

    December 22, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  13. K2

    So, will Gibbs be ridiculing Obama about his book royalty income???

    December 22, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  14. Donald

    Michael Steele should encourage his comrades in the GOP (Republican Party) to be part of the solution. They have being the major cause of the current problem that president Obama and his administration inherited. Michael Steele was afraid to hold Rush Limbaugh accountable after Rush's venomous vitriolics against president Obama and stating that the president should be assassinated. Michael Steele does not have the crdibility as a leader to be making any comments. If he wish to be constructive, he should advise the "No Group / Standpat Do Nothing Group i.e. Republicans in Washington" that will oppose any thing as long as president Obama is president. Sorry to say, but there are of them who are mad because the president is a black man. i.e. Rush Limbaugh, the voice of the Republican Party. The GRAND OLD PARTY (GOP/Republican Party) had control of the House, Senate and White House and did not make the necessary reforms on behalf of the American people as president and the Democrats are now doing i.e. Health Care Reform, Banking Reform, Government Procurement Reform to name a few. It is either that the GOP did not have the courage or plainly sold out to the big corporations in the interest of their own political careers (campaign funding) and their own bottom line (kick backs). Many other adminstrations and Congress bodies over the last 70 years were not able accomplish in their full term what this president and Congress is accomplishing in one year. May God bless president Obama and grant him the wisdom to make wise tough decisions to move America forward domestically and internationally. Michael Steele should try to learn from the president.

    December 22, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  15. Mohandas Ghandi

    I will support the healthcare bill when the 60 Senators how voted for it will switch form their current healthcar plan to the new one

    December 22, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  16. Glen Beck is king of the morons

    Quit picking on uncle Mike,he just wants to make a fast buck like his counterpart,Glen Peckerhead.

    December 22, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  17. Tony

    Gibbs is so dumb its laughable, I hope they never get rid of this guy. I know he has to continually LIE for Obama, but what a screwball.

    December 22, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  18. Incredulous

    Give me a break! Full time job? All Mike Steele has to do is to do whatever Rush Limbaugh tell him. I mean it's not like Steele is actually running the RNC mess.

    With all the free time he has, it's no wonder he has some speaking gigs on the side. What I am amazed at is the poor compensation he is getting for these engagements. He of all people should know that Republicans can pay a heck of a lot more than $10-$15K per speech.

    December 22, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. eagle

    I don't understand American Peoples voting year after year for the same candidates -Senators / Congressman .as being blind and not seeing these individuals soon they get you vote they don' care about you.
    All they care is themselves an RICH FRIENDS, it has been so obvious now at resolving Health Care reform, their main concern s are Big Insurances, Pharmaceutical companies interest.
    Using scare tactics for Public Insurance coverage is shamefull .
    As a Canadian I am proud of my country taking care of all our citizens as we all have same health coverage no matter rich, poor or politician.
    Since Public Insurance works well in may Countries why it won't in USA
    -because those Greedy idiots will have less in their Bank accounts
    Ask your Senators/Congress rep. what health coverage they have!

    December 22, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  20. Dan

    Robert Gibbs needs to grow up and stop acting like a whiny little brat.

    December 22, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  21. Oldwhiskers

    Michael Steele is secretly a Democrat. It is very obvious.

    December 22, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  22. SF Serg

    It makes sense. Steele's getting paid to say anything. I thought he was just trying to stand up for his party since they elected him chairman. He probably even knows that the GOP is just using him as the "black face" of the party to counter Obama, as long as they allow him to use the party to generate income. You have to admire the GOP in the sense that they do stick together and they look after their self-interests.

    December 22, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  23. Tony

    "Steele is what the republican party is all about. The republican culture of corruption is alive and well."

    That is hysterical!!! Even you loons on the left can see the brides, backdoor deals in the DEMOCRATIC BILL!!!! Corruption at its highest. And these clowns pat themselves on the back like they are doing something "historical". They are the are committing mass political suicide. I LOVE IT.

    December 22, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  24. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Maybe it is not fair for Gibbs to jump on a mentally challenged individual like Steele. Every right wingnut will call Gibbs a bully and tell him to pick on someone his own size.

    December 22, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |

    Steele a great Republican and American, keep up the good work.

    December 22, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
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