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March 18, 2009

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.

Posted by David Nitkin at 7:58 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Michael Steele


And of course in 2005, as opposed to now, we were in the midst of the worst recession in 30 years, if not 60.

Perhaps donations to the Republican National Committee were down in Mr. Steele's first month because donors wrote their checks directly to Brown Sugar Unlimited and Allied Berton.

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Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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