Michael Steele sought private jet with RNC funds
From The Daily Caller - RNC Chairman Michael Steele once raised the possibility of using party money intended for political campaigns to buy a private jet for his travel...
From Jonathan Strong, The Daily Caller:
According to two knowledgeable sources, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele once raised the possibility of using party money to buy a private jet for his travel.
“I know that … regular ongoing use of planes was something that was looked at,” says one person with direct knowledge. “I can’t speak to how serious those inquiries were.” Both sources say Steele considered purchasing a plane outright, or buying fractional ownership in one, through a company such as NetJets.
Steele’s spokesman, Doug Heye, did not deny that such discussions took place, responding that the RNC never had a “plan” to buy a plane. “I don’t know what somebody might have discussed or might not have discussed.”
While Steele has not purchased a plane, he continues to charter them. According to federal disclosure records, the RNC spent $17,514 on private aircraft in the month of February alone (as well as $12,691 on limousines during the same period). There are no readily identifiable private plane expenses for Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine in the DNC’s last three months of filings.
The RNC explains that Steele charters jets only when commercial service is unavailable, or when his tight schedule requires it. “Anytime the chairman has taken any private travel has been a either to a route that doesn’t exist or because of connections and multiple travel to where he just wasn’t able to do so,” Heye said. Yet Steele’s office repeatedly refused to explain in specific terms the circumstances of the February charter flights.
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.
RNC trips to other cities produced bills from a long list of chic and costly hotels such as the Venetian and the M Resort in Las Vegas, and the W (for a total of $19,443) in Washington. A midwinter trip to Hawaii cost the RNC $43,828, not including airfare.
Steele himself declined numerous interview requests, though his defenders point out that luxurious accommodations are sometimes necessary to attract big-time donors, especially since Republicans remain in the minority in Washington.
Continue to the full article at The Daily Caller website.
The RNC recently “lost a bid to restore “soft moneypolitical fundraising, on the grounds that such unlimited contributions are necessary for activities beyond federal elections.
UPDATE – Follow this developing story with Domenico Montanaro of MSNBC’s First Read.