RNC Implosion? 6 Bad Things That Have Happened to Michael Steele and the Republican National Committee in 48 Hours
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Although the Republican National Committee has not had to battle any soft-core porn scandals yet, its week is still off to a rough start. Here are six bad things that have happened to the RNC in the past 48 hours.
1. More shady finances
Michael Steele has a new "special assistant of finance." So far, his most visible accomplishment has been to generate another embarrassing RNC finance story. Yesterday Annie Groer reported on Politics Daily that Neil Alpert managed to rack up almost $70,000 in unauthorized expenditures as chair of two local baseball teams. According to a copy of the complaint against Alpert obtained by Justin Elliott at TPM, Alpert used the money for "...cash, C.V.S. drug store, gasoline, various meals, and night club bills."
2. Thrown under bus....
Two prominent Republican lawmakers scolded the RNC on Sunday and pointedly refused to give their support to the embattled chairman. Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, on Fox news Sunday: “This kind of thing has got to stop or they won’t get any contributions.” Rep. Kevin McCarthy: “The RNC does have some challenges that they need to correct.”
3. Scapegoating time
But Steele is taking responsibility! By pushing out another underling. Late yesterday Hotline OnCall reported that the RNC chief of staff, Ken McKay, has given up his post. "The chairman felt it was critical to make a move swiftly to ensure that no improper expenses happen in the future," RNC spokesman Doug Heye told Hotline .
Problem solved. Except that according to top-level Republicans (who, to be fair, might just be trying to make Steele look as awful as possible) McKay was actually competent. Said one Republican operative in an e-mail to Washington Post's the Fix: "If Ken's resignation was to signal a positive shake-up at the RNC, it will actually have the opposite effect. He was one of the few level-headed and widely respected aides at the committee."
American Crossroads, an alternative fundraising committee that's wooing rich conservative donors by not embarrassing the Republican party every five minutes, pledged yesterday to spend $50 million on Congressional races this fall. Wealthy conservatives seem to like them; the organization, headed by Ed Gillespie and advised by Karl Rove when he's not lying on TV, has allegedly raised 30 million in pledges. The RNC only had $8.4 million in January; an inauspicious amount of money in a month America's first socialist president was inaugurated.
5. More rich people jump ship
It's not just rich people on the outside that the RNC has managed to alienate. Sam Fox, a top-level RNC fundraiser, has resigned his unpaid position, stating he was “deeply troubled by the pattern of self-inflicted wounds and missteps," and that he’s lost confidence in Steele. Apparently Fox was one of the few people left in the RNC with connections to very wealthy donors. No worries. The RNC can close that funding gap by preying on the fears of poor people.
6. Michael Steele went on TV and talked; Robert Gibbs slammed him
Clearly the last thing the RNC wants is for Michael Steele to stop embarrassing the organization/running it into the ground/alienating rich people and quietly go away. So Steele went on TV Sunday to announce that he would absolutely not step down, reassuring nervous colleagues and donors that the only way for them to stop the RNC's implosion is to very publicly boot one of the few prominent African Americans involved in GOP politics.
Then Steele wisely reached out to his critics -- a category that last week included anyone interested in the fortunes of the Republican Party -- by accusing them of racism. “I tend to come at it a little bit stronger, a little bit more streetwise if you will," said Steele to George Stephanopoulos. When asked if he faced a slimmer margin of error because of his race, Steele said, "The honest answer is yes.” This gave Robert Gibbs the opportunity to say the following: "I think Michael Steele’s problem isn’t the race card, it’s the credit card.”