GETTING TO THE BOTTOM OF THE RNC’S RISQUE SPENDING…. By yesterday afternoon, the controversy surrounding the Republican National Committee’s latest expense report was coming into focus, but there were some unanswered questions.
The most scandalous expenditure was, of course, the nearly $2,000 spent on “meals” at a nightclub called Voyeur West Hollywood, an establishment where “impromptu bondage and S&M ‘scenes’” are “played out on an elevated platform by scantily clad performers throughout the night.” The RNC insisted that Chairman Michael Steele was not directly responsible for the charge, but conceded that the party had reimbursed Erik Brown, a California-based political consultant, for the expenses.
So, why did Brown seek reimbursement from the RNC? Apparently because his evening at the risque nightclub was part of an effort to impress Republican donors.
An RNC investigation of the incident found that the Voyeur party was attended by a group of young Republicans who had been at an official party “Young Eagles” event at the Beverly Hills Hotel the same night, according to an internal memo obtained by The Washington Post. The Young Eagles is an RNC program to cultivate 30-to-40-year-olds as major future donors.
The request for reimbursement was then submitted on behalf of Brown by an unidentified RNC staffer who “was aware that this activity was not eligible for reimbursement and had been previously counseled on this very subject,” according to the memo, which was written by the committee chief of staff, Ken McKay.
By late yesterday, the RNC staffer who joined Brown and the donors at the bondage nightclub had been fired. The party has also asked Brown to give the money back.
We do not yet know, however, who at the RNC signed off on the reimbursement and why.
Regardless, to put it mildly, Republican insiders are not happy. Mike DeMoss, a longtime RNC donor who served as a liaison to the evangelical community for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, told Politico, “The RNC cannot attack Democrats for how the government spends taxpayer money when it is spending Republican donor money recklessly. Recent RNC spending stories suggest a tone-deafness at best and a misappropriation of funds at worst…. Ultimately, the RNC can spend however it wishes — it just may have less to spend the next time around.”