Free-Spending Steele Enrages RNC Donors

Chairman doubles expenses on gourmet food, limousines

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 23, 2010 7:49 AM CST

(Newser) – Michael Steele has expensive tastes. The RNC chairman has doubled the committee’s spending on things like limousines, charter flights, and catering, and that’s got donors seething, Politico reports. In one recent incident, Steele hired Wolfgang Puck to cater a committee Christmas party at a trendy restaurant on Pennsylvania Avenue; last year, the party was held in a conference room and catered by Chic-fil-A.

The RNC’s budget chairman defended the expenditures. “Nobody is living it up,” he said. “There are a number of upscale events, but those are all profitable.” But disclosure documents reveal that the $23 million surplus Steele inherited has shrunk to $8.4 million. January’s much-touted $10 million fundraising haul was almost all spent on the Christmas party and the committee’s Hawaii getaway. Big donors are fleeing, giving nearly half as much as they did in 2005. “Michael Steele is an imperial chairman,” one fundraiser complained. “He fancies himself a presidential candidate and wants all of the trappings and gets them by using other people’s money.”

Chairman of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele addresses an audience at the John F. Kennedy School of Government on the campus of Harvard University, Feb. 3, 2010, in Cambridge, Mass.
Chairman of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele addresses an audience at the John F. Kennedy School of Government on the campus of Harvard University, Feb. 3, 2010, in Cambridge, Mass.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
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Michael Steele is an imperial chairman. He fancies himself a presidential candidate and wants all of the trappings and gets them by using other people’s money. - An anonymous longtime GOP donor

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