For the past month, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele has been traversing the country on his “Fire Pelosi” bus tour, warning whoever will listen about Democrats’ supposed fiscal ineptitude. Promising that Republicans can better manage the nation’s finances, Steele said yesterday in Kentucky, “You said enough. No more spending, no more debt, no more deficits.”
Likewise, at Steele’s big RNC rally in Anaheim last weekend with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, he vowed to “say no to deficit spending, no to more debt, no to government control of businesses, no to government control of our affairs.” Watch it (beginning 5:30):
But Steele may want to take a look at his own domain before he promises to deliver better financial discipline. Since Steele took over the RNC, the national party has been crippled by anemic fundraising (despite a strong year for Republicans, the RNC has raised $90 million less than it did in 2006), embarrassing managerial lapses, and gross financial mismanagement. While observers have long been aware of the RNC’s money woes, Hotline On Call reports the situation is much worse than previously expected, as the RNC “is deeper in debt than initially disclosed,” and it has been slow to pay off those debts:
The new reports, filed late Monday night, show the RNC had just under $4.7 million cash on hand as of September 1, while carrying $2.46 million in debt — more than twice the $1.2 million debt disclosed when the committee initially filed its August report on September 20. What’s more, earlier reports to the FEC have been amended to show previous debts, since paid off, of $4.7 million in June and July. Most of that debt was paid off within weeks, but because outstanding bills existed when reporting periods ended, they are required to be reported as obligations on FEC forms. [...]
Several debts have been on the RNC’s books for months, the filings show. The party has owed a Napa Valley company $7,751 for bus transportation since May. They have owed Political Media Inc., a Washington-based firm run by internet marketing expert Larry Ward, a total of $27,500 for website development, for the same length of time.
Indeed, a number of Republican candidates preaching fiscal discipline have run into their own personal financial troubles. Delaware GOP Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell has had a particularly tough time — she received a federal tax lien for more than $11,000 in unpaid taxes in 2006, almost had her house foreclosed on, and only paid off her college tuition 12 years after she graduated. Likewise, Florida GOP Senate nominee Marco Rubio faced foreclosure on his home in Tallahassee, and has been dogged by allegations that he misused party funds to pay for personal expenses.
As Hotline details, the RNC’s financial troubles have caused significant strife within the party. Steele and RNC Treasurer Randy Pullen have “feuded for months over the party’s finances,” leading many of party’s senior officials to split into opposing camps supporting either Steele or Pullen. “While you may not like Michael Steele, you are doing a great disservice to our party,” former Maryland GOP chairman John Kane wrote to Pullen, accusing him of leaking stories to the press. “You got a problem with Steele, settle it like an adult in December. Until then do your job internally and shut up externally.”