Steele Enjoys Spending Spree on Donors' Dime

Meredith Jessup

2/23/2010 9:44:20 PM - Meredith Jessup
Politico has a lengthy look at RNC chairman Michael Steele and the recent spending practices of today's Republican National Committee--practices that are causing justified angst among donors:
Republican National Chairman Michael Steele is spending twice as much as his recent predecessors on private planes and paying more for limousines, catering and flowers – expenses that are infuriating the party's major donors who say Republicans need every penny they can get for the fight to win back Congress.

Most recently, donors grumbled when Steele hired renowned chef Wolfgang Puck's local crew to cater the RNC's Christmas party inside the trendy Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue, and then moved its annual winter meeting from Washington to Hawaii.

For some major GOP donors, both decisions were symbolic of the kind of wasteful spending habits they claim [have] become endemic to his tenure at the RNC. When Ken Mehlman served as the committee chairman during the critical 2006 midterm elections, the holiday party was held in a headquarters conference room and Chic-fil-A was the caterer.

A POLITICO analysis of expenses found that compared with 2005, the last comparable year preceding a midterm election, the committee’s payments for charter flights doubled; the number of sedan contractors tripled, and meal expenses jumped from $306,000 to $599,000.

“Michael Steele is an imperial chairman,” said one longtime Republican fundraiser. “He flies in private aircraft. He drives in private cars. He has private consultants that are paid ridiculous retainers. He fancies himself a presidential candidate and wants all of the trappings and gets them by using other people’s money.”

Fiscally responsible?  Try absolutely outrageous.  There's much MUCH more in the report--click here to read the full story.

Hopefully Steele's lousy leadership will not hurt individual conservative candidates who are trying to make the most of campaign contributions.  The lessons of the Politico report are two-fold: donations are best made directly to your candidate of choice and the Republican establishment is still clueless.