Scandal Triggers Shift in Republican Fundraising

Donors flee to channels outside the RNC

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On Tuesday, the Wire covered concerns how the RNC strip club spending spree was likely to affect donors. Now answers are beginning to surface. Donors are beginning to bypass the RNC, donating directly to candidates or giving instead to the National Republican Senatorial Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee. Meanwhile, the Beltway media is beginning to buzz with news of a new fundraising group supported by, in the words of National Journal's Peter Stone, "GOP uber strategists Ed Gillepsie and Karl Rove." Here's the debate on the extent of the bondage story's damage:

  • 'Deal with This Now or Deal with It Later'  Aware that this is just one more in a long string of RNC-tires-of-Steele stories, conservative Hot Air's Allahpundit points out, as many do, that Steele is unlikely to get sacked. That doesn't mean this isn't a big deal, though.
Even so, the expense at the nightclub is just the tip of the RNC’s fundraising iceberg, as NPR describes it, with some grassroots righties already wondering just how free the "free-spending culture" is under Steele that an almost $2,000 bar tab at a place called "Voyeur" would be mindlessly rubber-stamped by the RNC finance department. Suffice it to say, if the RNC gets caught short-handed financially in the fall and loses winnable House races because it can’t pay for ads, the wrath of conservatives will be unimaginable.
  • Donors Deserting  "In January," notes irritated conservative Kathleen Parker in The Washington Post, "the RNC spent $9 million of its $10 million monthly haul, much of it on its annual winter meeting in Hawaii. Keeping a buck out of every 10 is probably not inspiring confidence in donors, who are beginning to put their money elsewhere." She also rebuts the notion that Steele not having been present at the bondage-themed nightclub settles that story: " RNC and lesbian bondage are now tattooed on the American brain, and the buck stops at the top."
  • Very Bad Timing, says Joe Gandelman of The Moderate Voice. "This kind of scandal has profound implications for the GOP --fundraising problems at a time when many Republicans think the party is on the brink of making big political gains."
  • Are GOP Money Issues Really About Steele?  Conservative blogger Dan Riehl questions the conventional wisdom on this topic: "How much does [RNC credibility and fundraising ability] have to do with the way the GOP in the WH, House and Senate behaved for the last five years, long before Steele was ever around? ... Change that behavior and I don't care who's running the RNC."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.