By Mark Memmott
The Republican National Committee says it is investigating why someone charged $1,946.25 for "meals" at a West Hollywood bondage-themed nightclub to one of its accounts, and is taking aim at The Daily Caller for writing that the bill is an example of how RNC Chairman Michael Steele "travels in style."
The Hill and Politico are saying they've been told by an RNC "spokesperson" that Steele "was never at the location in question", that the money was spent by a "noncommittee" Republican "staffer" and that the RNC has asked to be reimbursed.
The expenditure came to light in RNC filing with the Federal Elections Commission. That filing does not name the person who spent the money at Voyeur on Feb. 4.
Daily Caller, founded by conservative pundit Tucker Carlson, mentioned the bill from Voyeur West in a story that also claims "two knowledgeable sources" say Steele "once raised the possibility of using party money to buy a private jet for his travel."
Carlson tells Politico that Daily Caller's reporter did ask the RNC about the Yoyeur bill before publication of the story, but was told that the party does not comment on specific expenditures.
Update at 3 p.m. ET. A longer response from Carlson.
There's a new post from Carlson on the Daily Caller that alleges the RNC's complaints "lack substance." And, he adds:
"To be clear: We did not claim that Michael Steele personally visited Voyeur West Hollywood. In fact, and unfortunately, we still know almost nothing about that trip, including its purpose. If the RNC provides details, we'll put them on the site immediately.
"The Daily Caller requested interviews with Michael Steele on Jan. 14, Jan. 15, Jan. 18, Feb. 10, Feb. 23 and again on March 23. All were denied.
"The story we ran today is accurate, as the RNC knows."
As to Carlson's statement that the original story "did not claim that Michael Steele personally visited Voyeur West Hollywood," read this paragraph from that story and judge for yourself whether it was or was not implied that Steele had been there:
"Once on the ground, FEC filings suggest, Steele travels in style. A February RNC trip to California, for example, included a $9,099 stop at the Beverly Hills Hotel, $6,596 dropped at the nearby Four Seasons, and $1,620.71 spent [update: the amount is actually $1,946.25] at Voyeur West Hollywood, a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex."