RNC FLOUNDERING CONTINUES…. After a humiliating week last week, the Republican National Committee hoped to get back on track quickly. It had already fired one staffer, “Young Eagles” events had been scrapped, and the RNC managed to go the whole weekend without any new scandals emerging.
Late yesterday, however, we saw the latest evidence of a party in total disarray.
The Republican National Committee’s chief of staff resigned under pressure Monday, which Chairman Michael S. Steele described as an effort to reassure wavering donors in the wake of a controversy over its most recent expense accounting.
The resignation of Ken McKay, Steele’s highest-ranking aide, is the most drastic in a series of attempts at damage control by the RNC after it was revealed March 29 that the committee had spent $1,900 to entertain young donors at a risque West Hollywood nightclub. The staff member who authorized the expenditure was fired last week, and the RNC has implemented new spending accountability procedures.
Forcing McKay’s ouster was apparently intended to prove that Steele was taking charge and cleaning house. Republicans are angry about donor money being spent at “a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex”? The beleaguered chairman wants to show he’s putting things right.
The move may have actually made things worse. With McKay sacked, a major GOP consulting firm with long-standing ties to Steele announced it is severing all ties to the national party. Worse, McKay will be replaced by Steele loyalist Mike Leavitt. ABC News reported that this “could spell even more trouble for the RNC,” since Leavitt’s overbearing style has already led four RNC staffers to quit since February.
Complicating matters further, former Ambassador Sam Fox, one of the Republican National Committee’s biggest and most important fundraisers, announced yesterday that he, too, is severing his ties to the national party, in large part because he had “lost confidence” in the RNC chairman. Steele, in turn, elevated fundraiser Neil Alpert — who has a record of using his employer’s money to pay his “night club bills.”
Any chance the internal turmoil will calm the nerves of RNC donors? It seems unlikely.