NOTE: Two updates below:
I wonder whether this will finally be enough to force the Republicans to dump their embarrassment of a party chairman.
The Daily Caller writes about Michael Steele’s free-wheeling ways with party money, focusing on his use of private jets to ferry him about the country and his rather hefty hotel bills.
“According to federal disclosure records, the RNC spent $17,514 on private aircraft in the month of February alone (as well as $12,691 on limousines during the same period). There are no readily identifiable private plane expenses for Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine in the DNC’s last three months of filings.
The RNC explains that Steele charters jets only when commercial service is unavailable, or when his tight schedule requires it. “Anytime the chairman has taken any private travel has been a either to a route that doesn’t exist or because of connections and multiple travel to where he just wasn’t able to do so,” Heye said. Yet Steele’s office repeatedly refused to explain in specific terms the circumstances of the February charter flights.
Once on the ground, FEC filings suggest, Steele travels in style. A February RNC trip to California, for example, included a $9,099 stop at the Beverly Hills Hotel, $6,596 dropped at the nearby Four Seasons, and $1,620.71 spent [update: the amount is actually $1,946.25] at Voyeur West Hollywood, a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex.”
An RNC chairman blowing two grand at a bondage-themed Hollywood nightspot featuring topless lesbian acts? In journalism, putting that sentence so far down in your story is called burying your lede. Sure, it’s only two thousand dollars, but it’s the kind of expenditure that can crystallize the discontent felt by many top Republicans about Steele.
It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. Personally, I’m surprised Steele has managed to survive as long as he has.
Here’s how a review from Clubplanet.com describes the place:
“In Los Angeles, it takes a lot to shock and awe. When you walk into Voyeur on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, you might not be completely shocked at the almost naked women writhing on each other but you will undoubtedly be in awe.
Voyeur is an intimate space, provocative and sexy, sophisticated and interesting. Inspired by Eyes Wide Shut and London lounge, Annabelle’s of London, Voyeur transports you to a world of risqué sexuality and eroticism. In fact, even if you tried to escape looking at the naked women all around you, you would ultimately fail. But then again, why would you even try?
Of course the guests are sexy, but the walls are also lined with black and white pictures of beautiful naked girls from decades past while temptresses wearing nothing more than pasties and a black thong “stretch” on tables or in large glass boxes. Yes, the women don’t strip or show off their outdone go-go girl dance moves. Instead, they hold onto ropes on the walls and literally stretch, like yoga class but much sexier (and probably more naked).”
“The RNC said in a statement Monday morning that it was investigating the Voyeur West Hollywood expenditure, which it said was “a reimbursement made to a non-committee staffer.” The committee also said it was requesting that the money be returned and emphasized that Steele was not at the event.
“The chairman was never at the location in question, he had no knowledge of the expenditure, nor does he find the use of committee funds at such a location at all acceptable,” the RNC statement said.”
For Steele personally, that distancing is no doubt useful. For Steele as chairman of the RNC, I’m not sure it’s going to help him much.
Washington (CNN) – A California-based political consultant who charged the Republican National Committee nearly $2,000 for a night out at Voyeur – a risque West Hollywood nightclub now at center of the latest controversy surrounding RNC chairman Michael Steele – will return the money to the party, a committee spokesman told CNN Monday.
Erik Brown, president of the Orange County-based Dynamic Marketing, Inc., was re-imbursed in February for $1,946.25 worth of charges at the nightclub, according to the RNC’s latest filing with the Federal Election Commission.
It’s not clear why the RNC re-imbursed Brown for the charges or who else was with him at the club. A spokesman for the RNC said Steele was not at the club when the charges were made.