Politics

Steele was flying home from Hawaii during RNC-funded after party at bondage-themed L.A. nightclub

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Jonathan Strong
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      Jonathan Strong

      Jonathan Strong, 27, is a reporter for the Daily Caller covering Congress. Previously, he was a reporter for Inside EPA where he wrote about environmental regulation in great detail, and before that a staffer for Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA). Strong graduated from Wheaton College (IL) with a degree in political science in 2006. He is a huge fan of and season ticket holder to the Washington Capitals hockey team. Strong and his wife reside in Arlington.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele was flying home from Honolulu the night young Republican donors and at least one RNC staffer – who has now been fired – were partying at Voyeur West Hollywood, a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex.

Steele hosted the RNC’s winter retreat in Honolulu, telling local television station KHON, “This is not a vacation” while sporting a Hawaiian shirt and lei. “When the expense was incurred … Steele was … returning from the RNC Winter Meeting,” RNC spokesman Doug Heye said.

The RNC now says it is firing a staffer for an “improper request” related to the $1,946.25 expense at Voyeur.

Some GOP donors are calling for Steele to resign in the wake of the revelations about the RNC’s expenses, which include the nightclub, lavish hotels, private planes and limousines.

“This incident does not help the RNC leadership dispel the charge that they are nothing but duplicitous high rollers and big spenders at a time when we should have the president and his collectivist friends on the ropes we find our leadership on the defensive,” former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who Steele beat in his campaign for RNC chair, told the Politico.

The California blog Red County reported the RNC-paid bar tab at the risqué Hollywood nightclub was part of a night of cultivating young Republican donors. According to the report, the night began with about 50 young donors at the Beverly Hills Club (where documents show the RNC spent $9,099) and ended at Voyeur.

California Republican political consultant Erik Brown originally incurred the Voyeur expense and was reimbursed by the RNC, documents show.

According to his Twitter account, Brown was close to Steele – the two recently watched a Redskins vs. Eagles football game together in Washington. “Enjoying the football game with RNC Chairman Michael Steele. (Eagles vs Redskins at FedEx Field),” Brown wrote Oct. 26. Brown has since apparently deleted his Twitter account.

“It is unfortunate that a loyal GOP donor who has recruited other donors became involved in this incident while merely trying to help what turned out to be the improper request of a staffer who is no longer with the committee,” Heye said.

Some California politicians who had paid Brown for consulting services in the past said they only had a tangential business relationship with him. “I buy letterhead and envelopes from the guy. I pay him for printing signs and stuff like that,” Assemblyman Chuck Devore told ABC News. A spokesman for the Steve Poizner for Governor campaign, Jarrod Agen, also distanced himself and his candidate from Brown in a Daily Caller interview.

A plethora of Republicans have purchased Brown’s services including former presidental candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain, according to FEC filings.

Besides the bondage-themed nightclub expense, Steele is under fire for expensive chartered planes, hotels and limousines.

Steele’s penchant for private travel is well known, but according to two knowledgeable sources, Steele once also raised the possibility of using party money to buy a private jet.

While Steele has not purchased a plane, he continues to charter them. According to FEC filings, 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). Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine has used a private plane twice in his tenure, a spokesman said; both times donors lent Kaine the use of their planes because of “flight cancellations” and were reimbursed by the DNC.

Heye said RNC criticism over the revelations about the Voyeur nightclub expense were appropriate. “We think it was proper that the committee was called to the carpet on this expenditure because it was not proper and that’s why the chairman made sure immediately that it was made clear that it was unacceptable,” Heye said in an interview with Megyn Kelly on Fox News.

  • tomdoff

    ‘Course, the charter aircraft he flew in was full of naked guys wielding whips and nipple clamps.

  • BeenLiedToByMyLender

    Steele should be run out of town. He has been a schmuck from day one.

  • liquidflorian

    After reading the piece on this over at Ace’s; this whole thing is just ludicrous. This is a swanky/sexy lounge not a bondage club. You guys friggin fail at life, but hey at least that drove up traffic for a few days, huh?

    Seriously a Google search could’ve showed you this was just a lounge not a sex club. Morons.

    • Lochness71

      I think you are in denile and trying to minimize the issue. This is not an appropriate place to conduct business.

    • killtruck

      Once again, it’s not about the lounge… or the sex club. It’s about the donor’s money.

  • honestly

    Yeah, and they were REpublican snakes.

    I would get why first class would be an option, but chartering a plane on the dime of the guy who gave ten bucks that he couldn’t afford because he’s worried about his constitution and his freedom? This is also why so many are NOT giving to the RNC but instead giving directly to newbee conservative candidates, who the state chairs are killing themselves to avoid supporting.

    This exemplifies what is wrong with the so called leadership. Maybe Lord Steele and Lady Pelosi could share a broom?

  • thebigodoopedu2

    This whole thing continues to stink up the room. It makes you wonder who’s side DC Caller is on..Surely they wont use some lame mantra that they are on the side of the people. As Obama is making choices for us (LIKE IT OR NOT STYLE POLITICS). we are chasing a stupid red herring dangled at us by DC. Surely DC is smarter than this..If they are on our side they would be honed in on real stories and not the RNC’s credit card receipts. how many ways will they twist this story? it’s more than apparent at least one person from DC has a personal vendetta to fulfill in regards to Mr. Steele.

    • theneighborhoodguy

      Big…this smells of INSIDE dirt being shoveled DC’s way…easier to get him to go quickly without the aura of party bickering being wafted about.

  • jimw

    anything else going on these days? jeez, back page this for awhile

    • suttree

      Indeed, it looks like another slow news day.
      I am suspicious – should we be watching the other hand, or something?

    • anniebanannie

      I think the dead horse quivered a little bit. Better keep beatin’ on him.

      • theneighborhoodguy

        That’s OK annie…pretty soon it’ll be a dead donkey, and we’ll make sure it doesn’t quiver.

  • ohthehugemanatee

    Were there “snakes on the plane”?

    • grayzel

      I like this:”Yeah, and they were REpublican snakes.” “Were there “snakes on the plane”? oh

      Movie buff are you?

    • anniebanannie

      *sigh…good ol’ days of old on Aces….