RNC Political Director Quits, Slams Steele in Letter

Posted: Nov 16, 2010 4:55 PM
A top Republican National Committee aide resigned today, penning an unflattering letter about current RNC chairman, Michael Steele, on his way out the door:

In a four-page letter to Steele and the RNC’s executive committee obtained by POLITICO, [Gentry] Collins lays out inside details, previously only whispered, about the disorganization that plagues the party. He asserts that the RNC’s financial shortcomings limited GOP gains this year and reveals that the committee is deeply in debt entering the 2012 presidential election cycle.

“In the previous two non-presidential cycles, the RNC carried over $4.8 million and $3.1 million respectively in cash reserve balances into the presidential cycles,” Collins writes, underlining his words for emphasis. “In stark contrast, we enter the 2012 presidential cycle with 100% of the RNC’s $15 million in lines of credit tapped out, and unpaid bills likely to add millions to that debt.

Collins offers a brutal assessment of Steele's leadership and fundraising prowess:

“In the last two non-presidential cycles of 2002 and 2006, the RNC raised $284 million and $243 million respectively,” he writes, without noting Republicans held the White House in those two campaigns. “So far this cycle, the RNC has reported raising just $170 million. Less than $18 million (10.53%) of that total came from contributions of $1,000 or more, collected from a mere 5,379 donors. This is a fraction of either the previous cycles.”

Of the $170 million raised to date, Collins points out that much of it came from low-dollar donors giving online and in the mail, suggesting Steele can’t claim credit for it.

The letter also reveals that Steele effectively abandoned the GOP's "vaunted" 72-Hour voter turnout effort:

Of the 72-Hour Program, devised by President George W. Bush’s political team, Collins recalls that the states didn’t even know that the turnout effort had been shelved until days before it was to begin this year.

“States were not notified of RNC Chief of Staff Mike Leavitt’s order that no 72-hour funding would be made available to them until October 22, 2010 – just one week before the 72-hour window opened,” he writes.

Politico notes that Collins' parting salvo is especially damaging to Steele because he had no previous reputation as a member of the committee's vocal anti-Steele faction.  The full letter can be accessed HERE

Steele has not yet announced whether he intends to run for a second term as RNC Chairman.

UPDATE: The Washington Post reports that Collins may be considering a run for RNC chairman.  If his blistering exit letter was designed to set himself up for a bid (Look at this mess! Only I can clean it up!), its contents and tone should be taken with a grain of salt.

UPDATE II: Is Steele re-evaluating potential plans to run for a second term?