Republican Bondage Club Party Should Cost Steele His Job

Steele should pay for heedless party in a topless bar.

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By Linda Killian, the Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Whoever thought we would be using the phrase "topless bondage themed nightclub" and Republican National Committee in the same sentence? You just couldn't make this stuff up. Obviously, it's not called Grand Old Party for nothing.

The escapades of the RNC staffers and donors at the Voyeur nightclub in West Hollywood and the subsequent $1,946.25 expense account submission to the RNC is a perfect, albeit crude and somewhat hilarious, example of what so many people around the country are thinking right now--people in Washington just don't get it.

Even David Letterman, no slouch in the inappropriate behavior department, gets it. His Top 10 list Tuesday featured the RNC incident and one of the reasons he listed for the RNC's actions was--"If we can't spend donor money at a strip club the terrorists have won."

Late-night talk show host Craig Ferguson said that in one week, the Republicans have gone from the party of no to the party of "no don't stop."

This really is too easy, but sadly, this is not just fodder for blogs and late-night comics. It actually reflects a serious problem.

RNC Chairman Michael Steele and everyone at the RNC should not only be embarrassed but in serious jeopardy of losing their jobs for a number of reasons. First there is the hypocrisy of being a party that publicly stresses family values and morality but behaves very differently when it thinks no one is looking.

A bigger problem is the breach of trust with everyone who donated money to the party. A recent Federal Election Commission report details not just the ridiculous sex club expenditure but loads of lavish spending on the part of Steele and others at the RNC, including $17,000 for private planes in February alone, nearly $13,000 for car services, and more than $18,000 to redecorate Steele's office. Steele, a former Maryland lieutenant governor, also reportedly has received substantial fees for making speeches, even though the RNC pays him a full-time salary.

At a time when the country is hurting, people are out of work and looking to Washington to help solve problems not make them, people must be saying to themselves, "Oh yeah, more of the same from those idiots in our nation's capitol."

Public trust in government, in our institutions, and in elected officials is at record lows and this kind of stuff just reinforces a public perception that those in public life believe there is one set of rules for them and another for everyone else.

A fairly low-level female staffer has been made the fall gal and been fired, but this incident isn't over and more heads should and probably will roll, including Steele's.

And for those people who believe in Republican principles and want to see more Republicans elected to Congress in November, this must be extremely dispiriting since it doesn't look like this is the most effective way to accomplish that mission. A recent FEC filing shows the RNC has only $9.5 million cash on hand and these events certainly won't help with the fundraising. Since Steele took over as head of the party, the RNC has spent more than it is raising. NPR reported that since January 2009, the RNC has raised $109 million, but spent $115 million.

Politico quotes former RNC member and Texas state party Chairman Tom Pauken as saying this is a "big problem" and Steele needs to think hard about resigning.

"There have been too many situations in which there have been questionable expenditures coming out of the RNC," he said. "It really raises the issue of what is the RNC being run for? The benefit of the chairman and a bunch of consultants? Or is it being run to advance the conservative cause?

"If we're going to retake Congress, we need to get our act together," he added.

Kudos to Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller for breaking this story on Monday. All it took was good old-fashioned reporting and looking at a publicly available FEC report.

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The Democrats are undoubtedly gleeful, but they would do best not to spend too much time celebrating. They should put their heads down and continue to focus on the people's business. Somebody has got to prove that public servants really are just that, employed by voters who can hire and fire them at any time.

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