RNC fundraising under Michael Steele's leadership
The Republican National Committee has announced its first monthly fund-raising totals since Michael Steele became chairman, and the figures may not quell his critics.
The RNC said it raised $5.1 million in February, and has $24 million cash on hand.
“The Republican National Committee is in a strong financial position thanks to our motivated base of supporters and contributors,” Steele said in a statement. “We are building the organization we need to be successful in 2009 and beyond.”
The numbers have been highly anticipated by those watching Steele’s tenure and examining whether his self-inflicted wounds would inflict lasting damage. One of the main functions of the chairman is to raise money, so high levels of contributions could dampen criticism.
The February figures, however, don’t appear to stack up well against recent historic parallels.
As Adam Nagourney of the New York Times reported: “At a similar moment in the political calendar in February 2005, also just after a presidential election and the start of fundraising for the mid-terms, the Republican National Committee raised $12.5 million, according to the Federal Election Commission. In the first two months of that year, the committee, under Ken Mehlman, raised $23 million.
“Mr. Steele’s advisers argued that the beginning of 2005 is not a fair yardstick, since Republicans controlled both Congress and the White House then. ‘We’ve just lost the White House — it is what it is,’ said Curt Anderson, a senior adviser to Mr. Steele. ‘Every Republican committee has to deal with the new reality ’cause everyone got fat and happy having the White House.’
“In that same period in 2005, the Democratic National Committee, which was out of power — but not quite as out of sorts — raised $6.5 million. ‘We’ll hold our own,’ Mr. Anderson said. ‘I think we’ll do fine.’”
The RNC released only its topline number; reporters and political operatives will soon dive in to the details of expenditures and receipts.
Politico blogger Anne Schroeder Mullins writes that “sources say [the fund-raising report] will have some lavish expenses.”
We’ll soon see whether Steele’s supporters and critics think the party is doing fine.