The GOP’s Twisted Priorities

The Daily Caller has a jaw-dropping exclusive about how the RNC is spending its money:

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.

[…]

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.

[…]

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.

[All emphasis mine]

Private planes, fancy hotels, expensive Hawaii junkets, lesbian bondage cubs…does that sound like the kind of folks you want running the country?

Health care reform may not be perfect, but I’d take the folks who gave us that over the folks who spend other people’s money to go to kinky sex clubs any day.

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Another Day, Another RNC Fail: RNC To Hold Fundraiser At Blackwater Compound

That’s the same Blackwater which has been accused of murder, illegal weapons smuggling, bribery, fraud (including using taxpayer money to buy strippers and prostitutes) and stealing weapons from the US military, among many other serious crimes.

You know that if the DNC held a fundraiser at, say, an ACORN office then heads would roll, careers would end and the right-wing media would launch a massive weeks-long national outcry.

And yet, almost nobody in the media is making a fuss over the RNC getting into bed with Blackwater.

And to think, ACORN was only accused of was giving bad tax advice.

Double standards much?

ATTENTION GOP DONORS: YOUR PARTY THINKS YOU’RE STUPID, EASILY MANIPULATED

Politico obtained an RNC fundraising presentation that shows what party leaders really think of their donors:

The Republican National Committee plans to raise money this election cycle through an aggressive campaign capitalizing on “fear” of President Barack Obama and a promise to “save the country from trending toward socialism.”

The strategy was detailed in a confidential party fundraising presentation, obtained by POLITICO, which also outlines how “ego-driven” wealthy donors can be tapped with offers of access and “tchochkes.”

The presentation was delivered by RNC Finance Director Rob Bickhart to top donors and fundraisers at a party retreat in Boca Grande, Florida on February 18, a source at the gathering said.

In neat PowerPoint pages, it lifts the curtain on the often-cynical terms of political marketing, displaying an air of disdain for the party’s donors that is usually confined to the barroom conversations of political operatives.

[…]

“What can you sell when you do not have the White House, the House, or the Senate…?” it asks.

The answer: “Save the country from trending toward Socialism!”

[…]

One page, headed “The Evil Empire,” pictures Obama as the Joker from Batman, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leaders Harry Reid are depicted as Cruella DeVille and Scooby Doo, respectively.

[…]

The most unusual section of the presentation is a set of six slides headed “RNC Marketing 101.” The presentation divides fundraising into two traditional categories, direct marketing and major donors, and lays out the details of how to approach each group.

The
small donors who are the targets of direct marketing are described under the heading “Visceral Giving.” Their motivations are listed as “fear;” “Extreme negative feelings toward existing Administration;” and “Reactionary.”

Major donors, by contrast, are treated in a column headed “Calculated Giving.” Their motivations include: “Peer to Peer Pressure”; “access”; and “Ego-Driven.”

[Emphasis mine]

So if you’re a small donor to the GOP, congrats: they think you’re petty, fearful and reactionary.

And if you’re a big donor to the GOP, congrats: they think you’re easily manipulated and egotistical.

That’s what the folks currently running the Republican Party think of their own donors.

But I think the best part of this story is how Politico obtained the presentation:

The 72-page document was provided to POLITICO by a Democrat, who said a hard copy had been left in the hotel hosting the $2,500-a-head retreat, the Gasparilla Inn & Club.

That’s right–the RNC put together this long, detailed, insulting presentation outlining their entire fundraising strategy for 2010 and someone just left it at the hotel, where it was discovered and handed over to the press.

This is what you’re paying for, Republican donors: to be insulted by people so incompetent that they leave a major campaign document sitting around in hotel.

I’d be asking for a refund if I were you.

BREAKING: NY-GOV: Paterson Out

David Paterson–New York’s unpopular, scandal-plagued, accidental Governor– will not seek re-election this year:

Embattled New York Governor David Paterson has decided to withdraw from the race for governor and will not seek election this year, local media reported on Friday.

The Democratic governor, implicated in newly raised questions of impropriety involving a top aide, has been under growing pressure to pull out of the race.

His withdrawal, reported by the New York Daily News and the New York Post, focuses political attention on state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who has been widely expected to challenge Paterson for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

[…]

Paterson was elected lieutenant governor and ascended to the top post two years ago when former Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned amid a prostitution scandal.

It now looks almost certain that Attorney General Cuomo will enter the race. On the Republican side, their candidate is likely to be former Congressman and failed Senate candidate Rick Lazio.

Michael Steele Demonstrates Republican Priorities

The RNC Chair is living the high life using other people’s money:

Republican National Chairman Michael Steele is spending twice as much as his recent predecessors on private planes and paying more for limousines, catering and flowers – expenses that are infuriating the party’s major donors who say Republicans need every penny they can get for the fight to win back Congress.

Most recently, donors grumbled when Steele hired renowned chef Wolfgang Puck’s local crew to cater the RNC’s Christmas party inside the trendy Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue, and then moved its annual winter meeting from Washington to Hawaii.

[…]

A POLITICO analysis of expenses found that compared with 2005, the last comparable year preceding a midterm election, the committee’s payments for charter flights doubled; the number of sedan contractors tripled, and meal expenses jumped from $306,000 to $599,000.

“Michael Steele is an imperial chairman,” said one longtime Republican fundraiser. “He flies in private aircraft. He drives in private cars. He has private consultants that are paid ridiculous retainers. He fancies himself a presidential candidate and wants all of the trappings and gets them by using other people’s money.”

[…]

When Steele took over the chairmanship last winter, he inherited a $23 million surplus. Since then, the former Maryland lieutenant governor has raised $10 million less than the party collected in 2005 and has spent $10 million more. By the end of 2009, the committee’s surplus had shrunk to $8.4 million, according to campaign finance reports.

[Emphasis mine]

The RNC tries to justify this mess by saying that, since there isn’t a Republican in the White House, Steele has to travel a lot more to fundraise than some of his predecessors.

But, again, Steele is spending more and raising less–it certainly doesn’t look like the exorbitant travel, lodging, food and floral (really?) expenditures are profitable investments.

Personally, if I were a Republican donor, I’d be angry that my hard-earned money was going to pamper the RNC Chairman rather than win elections.  Without enough funding, the pool of potential GOP pickups will shrink–and for what? Fancy food, private jets and all of the pretty flowers Michael Steele desires.

(Not to mention the hypocrisy of complaining about Democratic spending policies when the Chair of the GOP is using other people’s money to keep himself knee-deep in Hawaiian junkets and gourmet food. At least we’re creating jobs and improving health care.)

James O’Keefe Arrest Update

We have an update this morning on the arrest of conservative activist James O’Keefe–apparently O’Keefe & co. weren’t trying to wiretap Sen. Landrieu’s phones.  the Times-Picayune is reporting that they’re being charged with ‘entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.’

Still, a crime is a crime and a felony is a felony.  But I expect that the right will complain about the allegations of wiretapping in order to draw attention away from the fact that O’Keefe and his friends quite possibly broke a number of federal laws.

The question is, though, if they weren’t trying to wiretap the Senator’s phones what exactly were they doing?

MSNBC’s First Read brings us this:

A law enforcement official says the four men arrested for attempting to tamper with the phones in the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) were not trying to intercept or wiretap the calls.

Instead, the official says, the men, led by conservative videomaker James O’Keefe, wanted to see how her local office staff would respond if the phones were inoperative. They were apparently motivated, the official says, by criticism that when Sen. Landrieu became a big player in the health care debate, people in Louisiana were having a hard time getting through on the phones to register their views.

That is, the official says, what led the four men to pull this stunt — to see how the local staffers would react if the phones went out. Would the staff just laugh it off, or would they express great concern that local folks couldn’t get through?

[All emphasis mine]

So, James O’Keefe & co. quite possibly violated a number of federal laws so they could…break Sen. Landrieu’s phones to see what would happen.

Well, I certainly hope it was worth it…

And this is the guy who’s supposed to be the future of conservative journalism? Are you kidding?

UPDATE: And now some on the right are trying to brush this off as a prank.

Uh, no. ‘Entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony‘ is not a prank–felonies aren’t pranks.

And you know that if a group of progressives had done the same thing to a Republican Senator no conservative would accept ‘it was a prank’ as a defense.

The right’s golden boy caught quite possibly breaking federal laws (and for a pretty stupid reason to boot). Maybe they should stop trying to spin this away and just own up to the fact that James O’Keefe isn’t exactly the sterling anti-corruption crusader they made him out to be.

BREAKING: Undercover ACORN Filmmaker Arrested (UPDATED X3)

Remember James O’Keefe, the conservative activist who filmed those dubious undercover videos at various ACORN offices?

Well, he was just arrested by the FBI, apparently in an attempt to bug the offices of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA):

James O’Keefe, the conservative filmmaker who was behind the undercover operations that lead to the ACORN scandal last year, has been arrested with three others for allegedly trying to bug the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), the Times-Picayune is reporting.

[…]

FBI Special Agent Steven Rayes alleges that O’Keefe aided and abetted two others, Joseph Basel and Robert Flanagan, who dressed up as employees of a telephone company and attempted to interfere with the office’s telephone system.

[Emphasis mine]

So, apparently James O’Keefe is so concerned about government corruption that he had his friends dress up like telephone company employees and tried to illegally wiretap a United States Senator.

Remember, O’Keefe’s ACORN investigation broke a number of anti-wiretapping laws, so it looks like this publicity stunt is simply an extension of his lawbreaking MO.

The right touted James O’Keefe as a conservative anti-corruption crusader, but he’s looking more and more like a common criminal.

(Or maybe like a reality TV star, willing to go to any length for the limelight. O’Keefe should team up with Balloon boy’s dad–that is, whenever they’re both out of jail).

UPDATE: Andrew Breitbart, who was instrumental in publicizing O’Keefe’s dubious ACORN videos, had this to say:

I need to find information on this. I’m out of the loop on this. I will make my determination then on when to comment.

TPM’s headline for that piece was ‘More Liddy Than Woodward & Bernstein?’

Yeah, that’s what we on the left have been saying for a while now–and it’s about time O’Keefe’s underhanded tactics caught up with him.

UPDATE II: Read the FBI affidavit here.

UPDATE III: There might be more here than meets the eye–Jonathan Turley reports that one of the people arrested with O’Keefe, Robert Flanagan, is the son of William J. Flanagan, who is the Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana.

It’s kind of  a big deal when the son of a US Attorney is arrested trying to wiretap the office of a United States Senator.