Republican party chief says he’s staying put despite spending furor
Under fire for the Republican National Committee’s free-wheeling spending on posh hotels, private jets and a party at a Los Angeles nightclub, committee Chairman Michael Steele said Monday he will not resign despite the controversy.
“No,” he said flatly on ABC’s “Good Morning America” when asked whether he would step down. It was his first television interview since the controversial spending came to light. “When I first heard about this behavior going on, I was very angry and we dealt with it.”
Steele has been excoriated over the last week, including by some members of his own party, for spending that included $2,000 at a sex-themed nightclub as well as tens of thousands of dollars spent on luxury hotels, private planes and limousines in the month of February.
“I’m not staying in fancy hotels, in the Four Seasons, and flying around in corporate jets,” Steele said. One RNC staffer has already lost her job because of the nightclub incident. “We have managed the money in a way that has allowed us to compete in some races that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to compete in.”
Last year, Republicans wrested victories in two key governors’ races — Virginia and New Jersey — and also won an upset victory in January to fill Democratic U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts after he died from cancer.
Steele said that the organization was establishing some controls to rein in spending since Republicans no longer control either chamber in the U.S. Congress or the White House.
“A lot of our donors, our major donors, are used to a particular type of event, we’ve been scaling those back,” he said, predicting that the RNC would have a good fundraising effort in April despite media reports that some donors are sending their money elsewhere. Still, he said he understood the furor of donors and members.
“I hear my donors, I hear our base out there, I hear the leadership, and we’re taking steps to make sure that we’re even more, how shall we say, fiscally conservative in our spending and making sure that the dollars are there when it’s time to run our campaigns,” Steele said on a morning talk show.
- Photo credit: Reuters/Molly Riley (Steele during a news conference after being appointed RNC chairman)