Not Your Daddy’s RNC, or Maybe It Is

I've never registered with a political party.  My brother once said it was because I've never taken a hard stand on anything (of course I disagree), but it's really because I can find enough distasteful about any political party's platform that I don't want to be associated with it.  Besides, I vote for the individual, not the party, so my lack of party affiliation has never bothered me.  Once I read this piece on RNC chair Michael Steele's expense account I was reminded why I've stayed independent:

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.

4 thoughts on “Not Your Daddy’s RNC, or Maybe It Is

  1. Jim Caserta

    In FL, as I think here in NC, primaries are closed, so there is a disadvantage to being an independent or unaffiliated. I only changed my party affiliation in 2008 to vote in the presidential primaries. You can’t paint members of an organization with the sins of its leaders, and I’d like to think that reform minded members can push change. I don’t see our system of political parties changing anytime soon, so an affiliation, as distasteful as one might find it, can allow you to influence things earlier on in the process.

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  2. Jon Lowder

    Actually my understanding is that as and independent in NC I can participate in any primary I choose, but I cant participate in both in the same election.  So, I could participate in the Republican primary this election and the Democratic primary in the next election.   In states where independents cant participate in primaries I definitely agree that theres an inherent disadvantage to not being able to participate, but in states where independents can participate I think its actually an advantage to be unaffiliated.  In particular, if theres a situation where a candidate I really like is running unopposed (say a Republican) or is a virtual lock for the nomination and theres a close primary on the Democratic side, then Id participate in the Democratic primary and vote for the person I think is likely to lose to my Republican favorite.  

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  3. Jim Caserta

    OK, so I guess I really just changed affiliation because I had started taking harder stances on more issues and ceased being a single-issue voter, at least from a party affiliation standpoint.
    Wasn’t that Rush Limbaugh’s idea, to have republicans vote in Dem primaries? Or you could say, in the case my candidate doesn’t win, which opponent would I rather have govern. In that case, you might vote differently in the primary.

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  4. Jon Lowder

    I think your take is definitely more positive than mine!  To be clear Ive never done that, but its an option if I ever feel strongly enough about a candidate that Id want to either work hard to keep him out of office or get him into office. 

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