Today, reporter Jonathan Strong, in a story accusing Steele of wanting to buy a private jet for himself, implied that Steele had visited a West Hollywood, CA strip club noted for its lesbian menage-a-trois. Here's the passage:
The wording has already fostered inaccurate headlines. "Michael Steele Spent RNC Cash at Bondage Club" says the Daily Beast. The Daily Caller itself now calls the event in question an "orgy." Liberal bloggers are...Well, you can guess.
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.
The RNC is adamant that Steele never attended the strip club in question and says it can prove he was elsewhere. "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."
The staffer, according to a search you can do yourself, was "Erik Brown" from Orange, CA.
Elsewhere, the story suggests that "Steele's office repeatedly refused to explain in specific terms the circumstances of the February charter flights." The RNC says this isn't true: Steele was on a fundraising swing that can be corroborated through news accounts. Then the story suggests that "Steele himself declined numerous interview requests." The RNC spokesperson says that Steele never talked to the reporter.
The flashy implications of the story are going to hurt Steele, who absorbs body blows (like the leak of a devastating internal fundraising memo) as if he had guts of, well, steel. But the sad truth for the RNC chairman is that he escapes censure because his party isn't organized enough to censure him, because Steele wields too little power to be considered a threat, and because the locus of Republican energy these days can be found in the House. These last two errors have been made by staffers, but they point to a culture of casualty at the RNC. No one, it seems, is afraid of enough the boss to go out of their way to avoid embarrassing him or the party.
This article available online at: