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Capitol Idea: The Peep Show I’d Pay to See is Inside the RNC

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We know that after they write their big checks in support of the party, Republicans love to party at a raunchy strip club in Hollywood called Voyeur.

But if I was going to play voyeur, it would be as a fly on that proverbial wall, well within the offices of Republican National Committee headquarters this week to watch events as they unfolded into scandal when it became known that the RNC used donor funds to cover nearly $2,000 in "meals" at an establishment mostly known for lesbian bondage.

To be sure, RNC staffers dutifully churned out press release after statement, expressing shock and dismay that such a thing could ever have happened, while simultaneously offering boilerplate assurances that Chairman Michael Steele certainly knew nothing of this aberration — and, of course, hadn't actually been in attendance at the festivities regardless.

That's the damage-control meant for all of us unwashed masses. But what was really done and said within the confines of the RNC suites — other than the aforementioned 24/7 manufacture of public outrage — as the embarrassment mounted?

I can only guess that it started with an incessant loud ringing of phones, with Republican donors, large and small, raising holy hell. Some would be social conservatives, the faithful of the Christian Right, calling in to protest the morality. But I expect, indeed hope, many more simply were rank-and-file supporters incredulous that their hard-earned money was funding such absurdity.

This week's debacle may be the most, well, colorful — but by no means first — instance of big-spending on the part of the RNC under Steele.

Recent reports indicate that the RNC, which is the main Washington apparatus of the Republican Party, has less than $10 million in hand despite having raised $96 million last year.

That the GOP won elections last year in New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts should be no excuse for the meager balance. If the party spent that much to win a handful of off-year elections, what's that portend for the 2010 midterms in which it will want to win dozens of races?

If I were peeping in on the Michael Steele organization, I'd also want to satiate a growing curiosity about just how many other times in the past that these same shenanigans might have gone on undiscovered.

It goes without saying that the RNC summarily fired the staffer who put the offending event together, but its official PR on the matter raises more questions than it answers.

The dismissed staffer, identified as Allison Meyer, reportedly was let go because she "was aware that this activity was not eligible for reimbursement and had been previously counseled on this very subject."

She was previously counseled? That suggests she had been talked to earlier when she put through similar reimbursements before. How many times was that? What other sorts of fundraisers of questionable taste had Meyer or other RNC staffers attempted? Gotten away with?

And then there is the firing itself. Just how did it go down?

Was Steele, or anyone else at the RNC, genuinely angry with Meyer and her Hollywood escapades? Or, instead, was she let go more with anger and disappointment at the fact that she had become sloppy and just gotten caught?

Or, alternately still, was it all just a kabuki dance in which Meyer was "fired" just for damage control, with a wink, a nudge and a promise that the party will find her a campaign job down the line after everything cools off?

Were I a Republican donor, I'd be more interested in watching those at the top of the party who spend my money than in the peep shows they want to invite me to.

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About Scott Nance

  • Our national treasure Ann Coulter…

    It’s official, then. The Treasury is bankrupt.

  • “Our national treasure Ann Coulter . . .”

    We are whom we behold.

  • Baronius

    Our national treasure Ann Coulter brought up the DNC fundraiser at the Playboy Mansion, from a few years ago, that was cancelled after the outcry.

  • Michael

    If the RNC even had a clue they wouldn’t have such a dismal 2006 and 2008 showing for Republican’s. There is seemingly no accountability there. The Tea Parties are not going to throw good money into such a corrupt organization. They are much more interested in supporting the candidates who exhibit true conservative principles. They will be the recipients of Tea Party funding. Let the RNC rot!

  • While it shouldn’t matter, I agree with Ken that will to many.

  • Baronius

    The tea partiers are the last people to give money to a political party’s central treasury. They’re looking to support particular candidates that they agree with. They’re money-bombers.

  • Good read Scott.

    And Dave, it matters.

  • Cannon and Scott are both right: tea partiers are not for the most part wealthy, and they are skeptical of the Republican party, although their votes are likely to go in that direction.

    Plus: although they have certainly gotten lots of press attention, their numbers are still small compared to other groups: Democratic voters, independent voters and other Republican-leaning voters.

  • Roger, offhand, I think there are 2 factors in play. One, the tea party people don’t seem interested in the social conservative agenda Republicans are pushing in terms of gay rights, abortion, etc.

    Even more than that, however, these tea partiers watched Republicans during the George W Bush years, saw the big GOP spending there, etc., and have a healthy skepticism of Republicans as a result.

  • cannonshop

    #5 Ya gotta HAVE money to donate money, Roger.

  • Interesting links, Scott.

    A question. Granted the majority-party advantage in fundraising, how do you explain the Republican’s comparative deficit in view of the fully-energized tea party movement that Quale talks about.

    To wit, one would expect that at least a good percentage of the teapartiers would support the Republican cause. Apparently, that’s not the case.

  • Dave,

    Your comment here appears dismissive of some of the same concerns you yourself raised in your own piece about RNC leadership.

    Also, did you see Dan Quayle’s WaPo piece on the tea parties?

    Or the news that the Dems continue to out fundraise the GOP heading into the midterms?

    The point here is that if the GOP is complacent, if they think 2010-as-1994 is foretold and a slam dunk, they could be in for a surprise.

  • Arch Conservative

    Meanwhile that paragon of virtue, charlie rangell, in on TV giving tax advice and lecturing the nation about the immorality of the tea party folks.

  • Tell that to dingbat Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, who got lots of air time with his heavy breathing yesterday. This is all pretty good for a giggle.

  • Scott, most of the questions you raise in the end of this piece really don’t matter at all. In fact, the fact that money was spent on exotic entertainment doesn’t really matter, IF the expense produced results and led to additional funds being raised.

    Bottom line, the only thing that matters about the RNC is that it produce money to support campaigns. And the problem is that this is where it has been falling down by spending too much — and it doesn’t matter where the money was spent.

    The cost of the visit to Voyeur was basically trivial compared to some of the other things they blew money on, and that should be the real concern.