February 23rd, 2010
06:01 PM ET
13 years ago

RNC defends spending habits under Steele

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/13/art.getty.rnc.steele.jpg caption="GOP donors have been privately critical of RNC chairman Michael Steele."]Washington (CNN) - Michael Steele's handling of Republican National Committee's bank account is under fire once again, thanks to a Politico story out Tuesday detailing some of the committee's expensive habits during Steele's tenure.

The story compared last year's RNC's financial disclosures with committee paperwork from 2005, the last comparable year before a midterm election, and concluded that Steele not only took in less money than his predecessors, but also spent nearly twice as much on items like car services, charter flights and fancy meals.

"Michael Steele is an imperial chairman," grumbled one GOP fundraiser to Politico.

But Steele adviser Doug Heye is defending the party's money management under Steele, a record that has irked a number of top Republican donors who have sought out other party committees when cutting checks ahead of the midterms.

"We are focused on two things, raising money and winning elections," Heye, the RNC's communications director, told CNN. "In the past year we have raised over $90 million, we have sent money directly to state parties and have won three statewide elections," he said, referencing gubernatorial wins in Virginia and New Jersey along with Scott Brown's victory in the Massachusetts Senate special election.

Heye also e-mailed reporters Tuesday attacking the "anonymously sourced" Politico article and offering "some context and a fuller picture" than what he said was reported.

He pointed out that the Democratic National Committee had only slightly more cash on hand at the end of January ($10.2 million) as the RNC ($9.5 million) – and said that unlike their Democratic counterpart, the RNC has no debt. As for the spending, Heye wrote: "It costs money to make money."

The RNC, for instance, spent $10,000 on one fundraiser with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich last year at Spago, the upscale Wolfgang Puck restaurant in Beverly Hills.

But Heye argued that the RNC must be "more aggressive than the DNC in its fundraising efforts" because Democrats control the White House and both chambers of Congress.

"Therefore, a fundraiser with Newt Gingrich at Spago (an event that cost $10,000, but raised $53,000) or events such as inviting donors to a Redskins game become necessary," Heye said in the e-mail, noting that Democrats have also doled out large sums to hold fundraisers at fancy venues.

Ultimately, he said, Steele will be judged on wins and losses. He is up for re-election as chairman next January.

Filed under: 2010 • Michael Steele • Popular Posts • RNC
soundoff (131 Responses)

    ...same way they defended the spending habits of Bush..

    In a few weeks, they are counting on people having amnesia.

    February 23, 2010 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  2. JLM

    GOPers are the biggest hypocrites of them all.

    February 23, 2010 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  3. Sally Republican

    The other day I was at a GOP neighborhood party and they have the last laugh on Steele. Does he know that he is just a token? All he need to see is the 41 GOP Senators and the Tea Party rallies. Either he too smart or he just doesn't get it. Don't matter, the hand writing is on the wall.

    February 23, 2010 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  4. joel palmer

    arrogant and ineffciient what a great combination; you can add big spender and small thinker to that as well

    February 23, 2010 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  5. russell

    Why is that you hear republicans talking about winning elections and how much money they have raised, how come we don't hear them come up with solutions to this mess of a country were in , goes to show you were their priorities are .

    February 23, 2010 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  6. Gil Oberdas

    Just like the party of NO! Spend, spend spend, but then complain about others spending and vote NO, NO NO!

    February 23, 2010 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
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