Tales from the Trail

RNC drops $1,946 at risque night club but says Steele wasn’t the big spender

USA-POLITICS/REPUBLICANS

Politics and money can lead to some naughty things. Take RNC Chairman Michael Steele, for example. He was forced to deny a claim that he spent megabucks at a risque West Hollywood night club last month. The only trouble is that even if he didn’t, the Republican National Committee did.

Official documents show the RNC forked over $1,946 for meals at Voyeur, a high-end nightclub in West Hollywood where guests can enjoy drinks, cucumber tea sandwiches and live female performances that will “titillate the senses while still remaining classy and tasteful.”

RNC disclosure documents on file with the Federal Election Commission include the Voyeur expense in a monthly report that also shows the committee spending $9,099 at the Beverly Hills Hotel and $6,596 at the nearby Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire.

The Daily Caller, a Web site co-founded by conservative commentator Tucker Carlson, says those giant and controversial expenditures were incurred during Steele’s travel in California. It alleges that the spending is part of the RNC chairman’s lavish style and adds that the committee also spent $17,514 on private aircraft and $12,691 on limousines during February.

The Democratic National Committee was positively giddy about the report, gleefully describing its political rival as the “Risque National Committee” in media releases.

Democrats lead on fundraising for 2010, but the gap may be closing

CHINA

If new campaign dollars were votes, Democrats would be leading Republicans in the early returns for the 2010 congressional elections by about 7 percentage points overall. But that’s with Republicans closing the gap and eight months to go before Election Day.

A report by the Federal Election Commission says the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee pulled in $183 million in new donations during 2009, the first half of the 2009-2010 congressional election cycle.

That put Democrats about 9 percent ahead of their Republican counterparts – the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee – which raised $168.6 million together.

Gingrich once again at head of Republican pack

Once, a first-term Democratic president failed to deliver on healthcare reform and found his party USA-POLITICS/swept from office by a wave of voter anger that brought Republican Newt Gingrich to the forefront of American politics. Could this history lesson from the Clinton era be repeated?

Healthcare reform is stalled, voters are angry and Gingrich — who rose to prominence as House speaker after Republicans won Congress in 1994 — is again leading the pack, this time among  potential White House hopefuls for 2012.

The Washington-based political news outlet, Politico, says Gingrich’s political action committee is raising money far faster than those of 2008 campaign veterans including Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.