*The Republican National Committee has fired a staffer it says was responsible for a $1,946 visit last month to a sex-themed Hollywood club, and the GOP says it will recoup the money from a donor who also participated.
The move comes after a report yesterday that suggested RNC Chairman Michael Steele, whose spending decisions have angered some donors in this midterm election year, was behind the expenditures. A rep for the RNC denied that Steele was involved.
An RNC internal memo says the Feb. 4 outing to Voyeur West Hollywood, which features topless dancers and bondage outfits, involved several members of the “Young Eagles” GOP group who had been in Los Angeles for a meeting. An unnamed staffer, who had been warned that such activities did not qualify for reimbursement, has been fired, said the memo from RNC lawyer Ken McKay.
RNC spokesman Doug Heye said the committee will be reimbursed by Erik Brown of Orange, Calif., the donor-vendor who billed the GOP for the club visit on behalf of the attendees.
Since November, the RNC has paid Brown’s company, Dynamic Marketing Inc., about $19,000 for printing and direct-mail services, campaign spending reports show. He has contributed several thousand dollars to the party.
The most recent financial disclosure report said the RNC spent more than $17,000 for private planes in February and nearly $13,000 for car services. Heye said such services are used only when needed.
McKay’s memo says the RNC is committed to using donors’ funds efficiently and responsibly.
The monthly report says the RNC paid $18,361 over the past several months to the “Tiny Jewel Box” in Washington for “office supplies,” which may have included trinkets or gifts for big donors. It spent $13,622 at Dylan’s Candy Bar in New York City.
Some Republican officials and donors have complained about Steele’s spending decisions, saying the party should devote every available dollar to trying to win House and Senate races this fall. He held this year’s four-day winter meeting at a beachfront hotel in Hawaii, although it often takes place in Washington.
Some donors grumbled when Steele spent more than $18,000 to redecorate his office. Steele, a former Maryland lieutenant governor, also has received substantial fees for making speeches, even though the RNC pays him a full-time salary.