March 29th, 2010
07:58 PM ET
13 years ago

California Republican returning RNC money after racy club visit

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="RNC chairman Michael Steele said Monday it was unacceptable for the party to pay for a night out at racy Los Angeles nightclub."]Washington (CNN) - A California-based political consultant who charged the Republican National Committee nearly $2,000 for a night out at Voyeur - a risque West Hollywood nightclub now at center of the latest controversy surrounding RNC chairman Michael Steele - will return the money to the party, a committee spokesman told CNN Monday.

Erik Brown, president of the Orange County-based Dynamic Marketing, Inc., was re-imbursed in February for $1,946.25 worth of charges at the nightclub, according to the RNC's latest filing with the Federal Election Commission.

It's not clear why the RNC re-imbursed Brown for the charges or who else was with him at the club. A spokesman for the RNC said Steele was not at the club when the charges were made.

The RNC said Brown is returning the money in question to the RNC. "The committee has received a commitment that the money will be returned," the spokesman told CNN.

Earlier Monday, after questions arose about why the party would spend precious donor funds at a trendy Hollywood nightclub that features topless dancers simulating sex acts, a committee spokesman said the charges were being "investigated" and that the reimbursement was "made to a non-committee staffer."

Brown's firm, which also has an office in Washington, D.C., has done direct mail and consulting work for GOP candidates in California including Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, now a candidate for Senate, and Steve Poizner, the state Insurance Commissioner now running for governor.

Brown did not respond to phone calls or e-mails seeking comment, but he has spent time with Steele in the past. In October, Brown tweeted: "Enjoying the football game with RNC Chairman Michael Steele. (Eagles vs Redskins at FedEx Field)."

Brown closed his Twitter account on Monday after the nightclub story broke.

- CNN's David DeSola contributed to this report

Filed under: 2010 • California • Michael Steele • Popular Posts • RNC
soundoff (302 Responses)
  1. Tisha

    Michael Steele is not only an Uncle Tom but he is also spending Massa's money...uhhhh ohhh! Massa gonna's be mad

    March 29, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  2. filp

    Typical Republicans:

    Genuflect to the religious right by day and party with hookers at night!

    Way to go Chairman Steele!

    Keep it up!

    March 29, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  3. musician

    Micheal Steele continues to entertain and amaze.

    March 29, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  4. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    Where are the $150,000 in designer clothes Sarah Palin said she would return?

    March 29, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  5. GAK

    Kind of makes you wonder how they can say anything about the Democrats when they are always shooting themselves in the foot ..I guess the consultant was a good family values kind of guy!!

    March 29, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  6. Bubba

    Probably something to do with Palin's new tv show?

    March 29, 2010 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  7. Rich

    I can't believe people are looking at a $2,000 expense. All the parties and groups spend millions on useless activitities and lavish events. If the republicans donated the money on their own, then who cares!! Just think how much it costs ALL OF US, each time the President, or any leader, runs off to Afganistan or Iraq to support the troops. I can't imagine how much money the government WASTED today.

    This is another attempt bu the media to pick apart the Republicans.

    Come on let's get serious about what ailes the nation.

    March 29, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  8. what do Tiger Woods and republicans have in common?

    I'll make a prediction: Steele and others are going to try to turn this around and SOMEHOW blame the democrats. CNN will print and sell the stories that the RNC gives them, and the American electorate will buy it hook, line, and sinker. Happens all the time.

    I mean, the republicans nearly bankrupted this country, went to war with almost everyone, and at present they still come out smelling like roses. The difference between Democrats and republicans? The republicans have CNN and Fox News on their sides. So they could invade switzerland and take all the money in their banks and the mainstream media in this country would make either Osama bin Laden or the democrats take the blame.

    Actually, scratch that. If the republicans invaded switzerland to steal all the money in their banks, they'd just be stealing from themselves anyway.

    March 29, 2010 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  9. jane

    It's about time some of these kinds of practices were exposed about the Republicans by the media. Enough attention on the small groups of lunatic fringe out their venting anger at the Democrats!

    March 29, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  10. Rodney - Compton

    I have been grossly misinformed about the nature of "Christian Family Values" ...and now have decided to become a Republican after all.

    March 29, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  11. DennisK

    This wouldn't be considered newsworthy if the GOP wasn't constantly positioning themselves as the standard bearers of morality and family values. Which, by the way, they prove by their actions time and time again that they are not.

    March 29, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  12. Another Shoe To Drop?

    There's a lot of wiggle room to be had. Was Steele ever at that particular club, not just "at the time the charges were made?" If so, how many times and when? Did Brown just overreach on his own, or was it charged to his credit card while out with RNC bigwigs who didn't want to directly charge to their own expense accounts and then laundered back via the reimbursement process? If this was not meant for reimbursement, doesn't anyone at the RNC monitor/oversee the reimbursement process before the checks are cut? Would not be surprised if and when journalists/bloggers follow up, there is more to the story than Brown just trying to slide 2K for a night of fun by the RNC paymasters.

    March 29, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  13. Ben in Texas

    They tell us they're for "Family Values", and then they rack up 2K in charges at the titty bar.

    They tell us they're for fiscal responsibility, and then they start wars they have no hope of paying for.

    They tell us they are for the middle class, and their main objective is to cut taxes on rich people.

    They tell us they are Christians, and then they lie, cheat, torture, and murder.

    And we should every believe a Repugnant, why?

    March 29, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  14. Mickey

    Gotta love the party of morals and ethics...

    GOP = domestic terrorism

    March 29, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  15. mike


    I LOVE it!!!!

    The GoP is all the entertainment I need on a daily basis....

    You couldn't make this stuff up!!!!

    March 29, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  16. andrewstl

    typical gop stuff

    act like they are the moral authority and then get caught with this stuff.

    another day another gop hypocritical story in the news

    March 29, 2010 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  17. Tom, St Paul

    Own it, GOP Taliban.

    March 29, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  18. Don

    Hypocracy runs rampant once again for the republicans.

    March 29, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  19. Harvey Ballstein

    Oh yeah, these guys got my vote in November. Unbelievable. They ain't winning nothin' back.

    March 29, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  20. MikeH

    Oh I'm sure there's more to this, the Republican party of consumate liars, after all is being investigated for bribery concerning Senator Ensign, and has had subpoenas served.

    Don't hold your breath waiting for CNN to do any undercover work on this, a real unbiased investigative journalism effort is called for, say by Rachel Maddow's people.

    March 29, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  21. Joseph-Ohio

    And just think, these are the guys many tax payers are paying to sit in Congress and "just say no" to everything that comes down the pike because there is a Dem majority. Democracts have NEVER acted this sharply against a sitting Republican......Just goes to show you how small mingded and childish Republicans are.

    March 29, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  22. katiec

    Cnn, you failed to mention the additional millions that has been spent on hotels, transportation, Hawaii getaway, meals etc. It is a gross misuse if campaign funding. They are spending now like they did with out taxpayer dollars.Conservative?? Only when it is against our country and the American people.

    March 29, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  23. Mr Manhattan

    Looks like the party of "good ol' fashion American family values" prove yet again to be guilty of the very thing they accuse the Dems of. Dubya & company did more spending than the Clinton administration but not one Republican voter expects any accountability from the politicians in their party. Rather than think it thru or challenge its congressman, they let the Right Wingnut Media do their thinking for them and paint Hitler mustaches on Obama because whack jobs Herr Beck & Drugs Windbaugh say it is the patriotic thing to do. By the way wasnt Hitler a white supremist?

    March 29, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  24. Brink

    I guess that erases it. How about what was the consultant doing on behalf of the RNC and with whom, that gave the consultant the idea that he could charge this back to the entity that he worked for.

    March 29, 2010 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  25. amazing

    typical GOPr

    nice family values dude

    March 29, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
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