Some of the most fiscally conservative players on the Republican National Committee championed the election of Michael Steele to chair that august body.
As someone who has covered the RNC for years, I always wondered about their reasoning.
While Steele’s an able television presenter — we’ve appeared on some of the same shows and I like his edgy style and sense of humor — I have always had doubts about his political judgement when it comes to money matters.
As someone who believes that the country is best served by robust political parties with distinct visions and approaches — not just two parties but three or four or five — I’ve been a harsh critic of the RNC and the DNC, both of which tend to dumb down our discourse and debates.
But Michael Steele is just making it too easy to criticize the RNC.
This week, an RNC spokesperson confirmed that the committee is looking into a report that thousands of dollars from the committee’s account was spent at a Los Angeles club called Voyeur West Hollywood, which offers discerning customers a chance to sample simulated bondage scenes and nudity. The ambience of this club, one web site promises, "transports you to a world of risque sexuality and eroticism."
I’m certainly not going to criticize the RNC for reaching out to the country’s more sexually-adventurous communities. Presumably, the GOP’s spin doctors considered making the case that recent developments should be seen as a measure of progress for which Steele could claim credit.
Ultimately, however, the chairman proved to be a tad shy about the Voyeur connection.
"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," says the RNC spokesperson.
Fair enough. But that doesn’t exactly end the discussion.
Or the questions. Conservative Women of America, a group that is usually more critical of Democrats than Republicans asks party leaders: "Did you really swill drinks, ogle young girls, and plan party business at this kind of establishment? Please explain!"
Indeed, as conservative columnist Tucker Carlson noted Monday with regard to complaints about Steele: "Our questions remain: Why did the committee spend more than $17,000 on private jets in the month of February? How and why was RNC business conducted in a bondage-themed nightclub, and how and why were the nearly $2,000 in charges that resulted approved by RNC staff?"