RNC FUNDRAISING ANXIETY GROWS MORE INTENSE…. Since Michael Steele took over as chairman of the Republican National Committee, the party’s budgetary decisions have been the subject of widespread consternation, intensified by the fact that RNC fundraising has fallen far short of expectations.

These concerns have escalated in recent months, in light of expense reports pointing to unnecessary spending on private planes, limousines, catering, flowers, softball equipment, and an outing at lesbian-themed bondage nightclub.

A CNN report this afternoon will likely raise the anxiety levels among Republicans to new heights.

An internal Republican National Committee document obtained by CNN paints a damning picture of the committee’s financial standing compared to the past five election cycles.

The document, pulled together during a recent review sparked by concerns over RNC spending practices, said the committee had $12.5 million in cash on hand at the end of April.

By comparison, the average cash on hand at the end of April from 2002-2009 was $40.4 million. And that average includes the odd numbered years when there are fewer election contests.

Looking only at even-numbered years, this year’s $12.5 million end of April COH is less than one-third the amount the RNC had on hand on April 30 for the 2002 ($47 million) and the 2006 ($44.6 million) midterms.

Republicans clearly believe 2010 represents a unique opportunity to elect a slew of right-wing candidates, and possibly even take control of Congress. But the fear within the party has been that the RNC would lack the resources necessary to take advantage of the opportunity. Those fears appear justified.

Indeed, the underlying message is a bit of a disaster — while arguing that the GOP is best suited to manage the nation’s books effectively, the GOP’s national party is failing to manage their own books effectively.

There is, however, a catch, which should bring some comfort to the Republican base — as donors have moved away from the RNC, at least in part due to a lack of confidence in the party’s humiliating chairman, they haven’t stopped donating altogether. Fundraising at the NRCC and NSCC has been strong, as have the totals from the Republican Governors Association.

And that’s just the official party entities. Karl Rove is helping orchestrate a new Republican fundraising/mobilization machine, with vast amounts of money from far-right supporters.

Still, the RNC is supposed to lead the Republican charge, especially in a key election year. At this point, it’s struggling — with money, staff, message, and relevance.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.