Michael Steele, hapless chairman of the RNC, doesn’t just suffer from Loose Lips Syndrome. He’s also been running a really loose ship.
On the heels of the recent revelations about the RNC cheerfully reimbursing expenses for a group trip of young donors to a topless lesbian-bondage nightclub, we learn about seriously misrepresented reimbursements:
At the Republican National Committee, the term “office supplies” seems to have taken on a whole new meaning. If you take its recent filings with the Federal Election Commission at face value, the RNC, it seems, requires thousands of dollars worth of pricey clothing and more than a splash of booze to run its office.
Listed on the report in the category of “office supplies” are purchases from a New England winery and a Capitol Hill liquor store, as well as more than $3,800 from a Florida clothing store. The category of “meals” also seems to extend to the sartorial, with a $450 purchase from a high-end Manhattan boutique — one that has no restaurant or take-out shop on the premises — falling into that category, as listed on the RNC’s reports to the FEC. That purchase, as well as one for more than $500 from the Florida clothing store, are attributed to RNC Deputy Finance Director Debbie LeHardy, who, according to the report, was reimbursed for them.
LeHardy also received reimbursement for more than $2,800 in “tips” between December 2009 and February 2010, according to the reports.
Records also show that LeHardy received reimbursement for $282 spent at Boca Grande Outfitters, which bills itself as “the area’s most complete saltwater fly fishing and light tackle outfitter.” The report designates the reimbursement for “meals.” Aaron Sutcliffe, a clerk at BGO, said the store doesn’t sell food.
In December, RNC reimbursed LeHardy for $453 worth of “meals” from Henri Bendel, a posh boutique on New York’s Fifth Avenue. Bendel’s is an upscale source for costume jewelery, handbags and make-up. The store bills itself as a “Girls’ Playground for trendsetting young women from around the world.”
“[W]e do not have a restaurant in the store so I don’t know how she would have spent $450 on meals,” spokesperson Jodi Mellman wrote in an e-mail.
AlterNet drily concludes that their “review of RNC campaign finance records suggests a pattern of reporting irregularities within an institutional culture of over-the-top extravagance.”
In his defense, though, Michael Steele can truthfully point out that there’s no evidence (so far) that either Chairman Steele or any of his designated heirs, appointees or assigns has been discovered to have eaten caviar with a silver spoon from the navel of a nude woman. Or, more specifically, that the RNC reimbursed them for doing so.