NPR logo GOP Spending Scrutinized After 'Bondage Club' Story


GOP Spending Scrutinized After 'Bondage Club' Story

RNC Chairman Michael Steele. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The second-day stories about some eye-popping details in the latest spending report from the Republican National Committee — which included $1,946.25 for "meals" at a West Hollywood bondage-themed nightclub — are focusing on the questions being raised about GOP Chairman Michael Steele and the party's spending.

As we reported yesterday, the RNC says Steele had nothing to do with the money spent at the club Voyeur in West Hollywood. And there's word that the RNC staffer who expensed the tab has been fired.

Last night, RNC spokesman Doug Heye issued a statement about that bill, saying that "upon finding out of the expenditure this morning, Chairman Steele demanded the committee get to the bottom of this matter immediately."

Heye added that:

"The committee has taken appropriate steps to address the issues relating to the reimbursement of certain expenses. First, as reported, the expenditure in question will be recouped by the RNC. Second, appropriate personnel actions have been taken and accounting and reimbursement processes are being revised to ensure that such an action cannot reoccur. We recognize the difficulty this incident has caused and assure our members and supporters that any necessary and proper remediation is being implemented immediately."

But as The Washington Post writes, the party and Steele have been "engulfed in controversy again ... after new financial reports showed that the party used tens of thousands of donor dollars for luxe hotels, private jets and other questionable expenditures."

Politico says that "top donors and committee members for the Republican National Committee expressed outrage on Monday," particularly over the bondage club tab.

"This incident does not help the RNC leadership dispel the charge that they are nothing but duplicitous high rollers and big spenders at a time when we should have the president and his collectivist friends on the ropes we find our leadership on the defensive," former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, told Politico. He had challenged Steele for the chairman's job after the '08 elections.

Mike DeMoss, a major RNC donor, told Politico that "the RNC cannot attack Democrats for how the government spends taxpayer money when it is spending Republican donor money recklessly."

The headline at The Hill's Ballot Box blog: "Misspent Money Is Latest Mark Against Michael Steele's Leadership At RNC."

The Daily Caller, which yesterday broke the news about the expenditures, writes today that:

"Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele was flying home from Honolulu the night young Republican donors and at least one RNC staffer — who has now been fired — were partying at Voyeur West Hollywood, a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex.

"Steele hosted the RNC's winter retreat in Honolulu, telling local television station KHON, 'This is not a vacation' while sporting a Hawaiian shirt and lei. 'When the expense was incurred ... Steele was ... returning from the RNC Winter Meeting,' RNC spokesman Doug Heye said."