[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/22/art.steele.gi.jpg 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."