3.29.2010

RNC's Steele Wanted Private Jet, RNC Spends Money at S&M-Themed Nightclub (UPDATED w/ Calls for Steele's Resignation)

Republican National Committee chairman & head of the Family Values Party, Michael Steele, wanted a private jet? For what? To shuttle him to and fro a" bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex?"

Why, yes. Yes he did (h/t Think Progress):

According to two knowledgeable sources, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele once raised the possibility of using party money to buy a private jet for his travel.

“I know that … regular ongoing use of planes was something that was looked at,” says one person with direct knowledge. “I can’t speak to how serious those inquiries were.” Both sources say Steele considered purchasing a plane outright, or buying fractional ownership in one, through a company such as NetJets.

Steele’s spokesman, Doug Heye, did not deny that such discussions took place, responding that the RNC never had a “plan” to buy a plane. “I don’t know what somebody might have discussed or might not have discussed.”

[snip]

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.

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It could have been worse.

Do as I say
... I guess.

UPDATE: While this really isn't a "sex scandal" in the usual GOP sense per say, here's a encyclopedia's worth of GOP Sex Scandals compiled by Daily Kos if you want a good laugh.

UPDATE II: TPM's Josh Marshall wonder if this is an RNC Outreach to GLBT Community? LOL.

UPDATE III: RNC denies Steele was spending money at this bondage-themed club; wil be “investigating” the spending:

“We are investigating the expenditure in question. The story willfully and erroneously suggests that the expenditure in question was one belonging to the Chairman. This was a reimbursement made to a non-committee staffer.

“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.

Funny, so they reimbursed a "non-committee staffer" for his trips(s) to a lesbian, bondage-themed nightclub? Even if that's true, it's too funny...

UPDATE III:

Via

Oh, like I wasn't gonna photoshop THAT. Original marketing image from Voyeur Nightclub, West Hollywood, found here. Attempts to reach the actual Voyeur website resulted in "server busy" errors.

LOL.

UPDATE IV:

Penny Nance, the CEO of the conservative group Concerned Women for America, ripped the RNC:

“Did they really agree to reimburse nearly $2,000 for a bondage-themed night club? We have several questions. For the RNC: Why would a staffer believe that this is acceptable, and has this kind of thing been approved in the past? And for the Democratic National Committee: Do you believe that it is appropriate to use tax dollars for pornographic exhibits like the ones recently funded by the stimulus bill?

“Please explain to Republican and Democratic women if and why you think it is appropriate to promote pornographic enterprises? As women we find the very idea of officials from either party approving of endeavors that objectify and demean women outrageous. This kind of behavior is not appropriate for national leaders that our children should be able to look up to as role models, and that our daughters could be working for.

“Did you really swill drinks, ogle young girls and plan party business at this kind of establishment? Please explain!”

Ouch.

UPDATE V:

Via TPM:
Late update: The Daily Caller pegs the person who spent the money as one Erik Brown of Orange, Calif. Brown owns a direct mailing firm and has tweeted about hanging out with Steele. (Here's the cached link. Brown's Twitter account was deleted today.)

[snip]

Late late update: RNC spokesman Doug Heye, on Fox News just now, said the party has gotten a commitment that the money will be repaid. Heye wouldn't name who spent the money.
UPDATE VI:

Maybe the RNC's budgeting isn't so strange after all:
Americablog posted this picture from the Club's Website:
Oh, and rethugs are now calling for Steele's resignation (via Sam Stein).
Michael Steele Called Tone Deaf By GOP Brass, Urged To Resign

In the world of politics, there was plenty of eye-rolling and mockery at reports that Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele spent lavishly on gratuitous and questionable expenditures in February.

For Republican donors and strategists, however, the revelation sparked yet another round in a lengthy debate over whether the rambunctious GOP leader really is the right fit for the party in the minority.

[snip]

"For those donors who truly believe in conservative values, this latest news about Steele has to be very disturbing," said Douglas MacKinnon, former press secretary to Majority Leader Robert Dole. "No matter which side of the aisle you find yourself, if you are giving a political party your hard-earned money, you should have no doubts that it is going to be spent as advertised and not to provide a spoiled, egocentric, out-of-touch chairman with frivolous luxuries which are out of reach of the vast majority of the American people. Michael Steele needs to resign and let the RNC vote in a man or woman who understands that his or her needs do not come before the needs of the nation or the party."

"I think it certainly suggest a certain tone deafness," confirmed Mark DeMoss, a longtime GOP donor who has decided to stop giving to committees. "I think it suggests either that you are out of touch or that you are more important than your constituents and your donors and either case is bad, whichever one you are guilty of."

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UPDATE VII: Young Republicans?

The Daily Caller is now reporting that the event at this bondage-themed club was for a group of young Republicans who attended the RNC-sponsored Young Eagles event earlier that evening (h/t charyl):

A $1,946.25 bar tab at a bondage-themed Hollywood nightclub financed by the RNC was part of a night of cultivating young Republican donors, The Daily Caller learned Monday after first reporting the expense that showed up on recent FEC filing.

The California blog Red County reported that the outing at Voyeur West Hollywood was an after-party for a number of young Republicans who attended a Young Eagles event that night at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Young Eagles is an RNC-sponsored program to cultivate 30- to 40-year olds seen as tomorrow’s big donors.

RNC chairman Michael Steele is not thought to have attended either event, according to Red County.

Erik Brown, who runs campaign firm DMI and has worked for prominent southern California Republicans, was reimbursed by the RNC for the Voyeur West Hollywood after party.

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It was bad enough for the GOP when it was thought that Steele was the club's visitor, but to learn that it was a group of young, virile Republicans - the cream of the crop and party future hopefuls -- well, uh oh.

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