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April 29, 2009

Republican Steele faces new internal challenge

Republican National Chairman Michael Steele's adversaries on the Republican National Committee have mounted what one Steele defender describes as "a hostile attempt to embarrass and neuter the chairman."

The effort, by the RNC's treasurer and several respected former party officers, appears designed to force Steele to make good on his campaign promise to impose new checks and balances on the hiring of outside consultants.

Amid the latest debris for the party--the defection of Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania to the Democrats and the loss of the upstate New York congressional seat that Steele and others had been heavily invested in winning---the latest contretemps may not seem like much.

But it's a new sign that Steele has still not calmed the internal upheaval that followed his election in January.

Details of the latest challenge, reported by the redoubtable Ralph Z. Hallow of the Washington Times, can be found here.

The RNC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Steele, who is in the midst of a coast-to-coast fundraising swing, has kept a relatively low profile in recent weeks. That has helped calm much of the negative publicity that rocked national party headquarters back in the late winter.

The internal challenge for control of the organization's purse strings is evidence that Steele has not yet convinced his rivals on the RNC that he is up to the job. And that's more bad news for a party that's already bumping along at its lowest point in decades.

Posted by Paul West at 10:19 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Michael Steele


The Republican National Committee members didn't want to discuss the 800 lb elephant behind the move to police Mr. Steele's spending--the irregular spending in his 2006 senate campaign.

He paid a defunct business owned by his sister, a pediatrician, $37,000 for catering and web services, and he and Gov. Ehrlich paid $417,000 to Steele friend Sandy Roberts through another business that was defunct at the time.

The RNC members' resolution looks like a direct response to those stories.

Here's something else:

It would be tough for Steele to oppose this spending resolution in light of his widely circulated platform when he sought the RNC chairman job, his Blueprint for Tomorrow, which proposed ethics and contract bidding procedures very similar to the ones the RNC members are trying to impose on Steele with this resolution.

RNC Chair candidate Steele said,

The RNC must lead by example to correct the perception we are ethically challenged. I will personally chair an ethical review committee made up of RNC members who will assure contracts are awarded on merit and meet the standards of best practices. And we will pass a tough new code of ethics that prohibits RNC staff and family members from benefitting financially beyond their salary.

and in the same document,

I will insist on a tough new code of ethics for all RNC staff, consultants and vendors. Contracts will be awarded on merit, staff and their family will not benefit beyond their salaries, and we’ll never pay more than what other clients pay for the same services.

Chapter II of his Blueprint for Tomorrow said,

Financial terms of every contract will be reviewed according to a standard of fair practice so that charges to the RNC will not exceed the industry standard for the same services.

- Steve Lebowitz

Steele was heavily promoted for the job by the usual group of Maryland bloggers.

Steve must have a program bot that alerts him any time a story on Ehrlich or Steele pops up on the WWW.

Fed Up must have a program bot that alerts him any time Steve makes a post.

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About the bloggers
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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