RNC Denies Steele Expensed Trip to X-Rated Club
The Democratic National Committee is having a field day Monday at the expense of its cross-town rivals at the RNC--or the "Risque National Committee," as the Dems put it in one of the blizzard of e-mailed releases they are sending out.
It started overnight when a politically themed blog, The Daily Caller, released the latest report about RNC Chairman Michael Steele's spending habits and his affinity for flying private jets at party expense.
The story also said that Steele dropped more than $15,000 of committee money on a recent trip to the Los Angeles area.
Included in the RNC's report for February spending was $1,946.25 for "meals" at Voyeur West Hollywood, which the online article said was a "bondage themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex."
The Daily Caller says the FEC filings "suggest" that "Steele travels in style." From there it wasn't much of a leap for the DNC to send out emails stating that "Yes, it appears that Michael Steele spent RNC money" at the nightclub.
No way to know, from the monthly RNC filing (all 2,500 pages), just who was there.
The line immediately above the expense in question in the FEC report provides a clue.
It contains a payment to Erik Brown, at an address in Orange, California, who was reimbursed for the $1,946.25.
Brown is a Republican direct mail consultant (his business address is the one on the FEC report). He did not immediately respond to a telephone call from The Baltimore Sun.
In a follow-up item, the Daily Caller reported that Brown appears to be close to Steele: In October, Brown wrote on Twitter, “Enjoying the football game with RNC Chairman Michael Steele. (Eagles vs Redskins at FedEx Field)”.
Doug Heye, the RNC's chief spokesman, has issued the following statement:
“We are investigating the expenditure in question. The story willfully and erroneously suggests that the expenditure in question was one belonging to the Chairman. This was a reimbursement made to a non-committee staffer. The Chairman was never at the location in question, he had no knowledge of the expenditure, nor does he find the use of committee funds at such a location at all acceptable. Good reporting would make that distinction crystal clear. The committee has requested that the monies be returned to the committee and that the story be corrected so that it is accurate.”
The RNC said the Daily Caller story was "riddled with misleading information and inaccuracies."
According to the RNC, referring to specific passages in the story:
1. Steele’s spokesman, Doug Heye, did not deny that such discussions took place, responding that the RNC never had a “plan” to buy a plane. “I don’t know what somebody might have discussed or might not have discussed.” – This was during our off the record conversation Friday, yet the reporter included it on the record.
2. Steele’s office repeatedly refused to explain in specific terms the circumstances of the February charter flights. – This is factually inaccurate. I personally told the reporter on Friday about the specific flights.
3. Steele himself declined numerous interview requests. This is factually inaccurate, Steele himself never declined anything; I did.
4. The piece repeated talks about “Steele’s expenses,” when quite often they are finance/fundraising expenses and not just for the expenditure in question. Though I made a clear distinction with Jonathan, his story fails to do so.
The Daily Caller was founded in January by Tucker Carlson, a Fox News veteran, as a counter
to liberal online sites like the Huffington Post.