Steele’s suspect spending

STEELE’S SUSPECT SPENDING…. It seems the political story of the day is the latest headache for RNC Chairman Michael Steele. New revelations, published this morning, point to a variety of hard-to-explain spending with donor money, including nearly $2,000 at an establishment called “Voyeur West Hollywood,” which is apparently “a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex.”

The Republican National Committee is pushing back very hard today, demanding that the media understand that the initial reporting was misleading — sure, nearly $2,000 in RNC money paid for “meals” at Voyeur West Hollywood in February, but it wasn’t Steele who made the charges at the racy nightclub.

To be sure, the Republican National Committee is not known for being truth-oriented, but I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt on this one. If RNC officials say Steele wasn’t the one racking up big charges at the nightclub, I’ll believe them until evidence suggests otherwise.

But I might offer the RNC a small tip: whether Steele was spending freely at Voyeur West Hollywood or not, these revelations are more than a little humiliating. The party can push back all it wants about the one detail it finds most damaging, but by effectively conceding that the rest of the story is entirely accurate, the RNC is nevertheless left with more questions to answer.

For example, all of this is apparently uncontested and true.

The Republican National Committee spent tens of thousands of dollars last month on luxury jets, posh hotels and other high-flying expenses, according to new Federal Election Commission filings, including nearly $2,000 for “meals” at Voyeur West Hollywood, a lesbian-themed nightclub that features topless dancers in bondage outfits.

The RNC spent more than $17,000 on private jet travel in February as well as nearly $13,000 for limousines, according to the documents. The GOP’s main political committee also ran up tabs at numerous posh hotels, including the Beverly Hills Hotel ($9,000); the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons ($6,600) and the W Hotel in Washington ($15,000), and spent more than $43,000 on its controversial midwinter meeting in Hawaii, not including airfare.

For donors who may be thinking about making contributions to the Republican National Committee, do you suppose this helps or hurts? And do you suppose it makes much difference whether the chairman was personally at Voyeur West Hollywood, or merely oversaw an office that signed off on the expenditure forms that allowed Voyeur West Hollywood to get nearly two grand in RNC donor money?

For his part, Tucker Carlson, which runs The Daily Caller site that broke this story, asks, “Why did the committee spend more than $17,000 on private jets in the month of February? How and why was RNC business conducted in a bondage-themed nightclub, and how and why were the nearly $2,000 in charges that resulted approved by RNC staff?”

Repeating the line that Steele never attended the nightclub in question doesn’t make the questions go away.

Update: We now know who made the charges at the establishment in question: Erik Brown, a California-based political consultant. We don’t yet know who he was with, why he sought reimbursement from the RNC, or why the RNC agreed to spend the money.

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