The complaints from the RNC about this morning’s Daily Caller article, “High Flyer: RNC Chairman Steele suggested buying private jet with RNC funds,” while loud, lack substance. Despite claims to the contrary, no one from the committee has ever explained the specific circumstances of any of the expenses listed in its most recent disclosure filings.
Our questions remain: Why did the committee spend more than $17,000 on private jets in the month of February? How and why was RNC business conducted in a bondage-themed nightclub, and how and why were the nearly $2,000 in charges that resulted approved by RNC staff?
To be clear: We did not claim that Michael Steele personally visited Voyeur West Hollywood. In fact, and unfortunately, we still know almost nothing about that trip, including its purpose. If the RNC provides details, we’ll put them on the site immediately.
The Daily Caller requested interviews with Michael Steele on Jan. 14, Jan. 15, Jan. 18, Feb. 10, Feb. 23 and again on March 23. All were denied. The story we ran today is accurate, as the RNC knows.
Some people watch Eyes Wide Shut and decry the dark vision of depravity and alienation.
But you always thought the parties looked like a good time.Welcome to Voyeur, a lavish new nightspot suggesting that highbrow elegance and a bit of S&M are not mutually exclusive. Gotta say, you couldn’t agree more.
Behind dank casement windows salvaged from the original New York Times building, there awaits a dark lounge filled with corset-backed chairs and antique sofas made from bounced-against headboards. Lithe women fuss with their lingerie behind glass, maybe, or they really enjoy the sax from the stage. (You might also see a beauty doing stretches on the trapeze net above you—she must be hitting the gym later.)
Once settled at your table, they’ll happily mix your drinks tableside—in shot or martini form—with fresh juice concoctions like Watermelon-Jalapeno and White Peach-Sage. You probably already had dinner, but if you want to fuel up for the dance floor in the back, you can wave over some Crispy Shrimp Rolls and Fontina-Chorizo Grilled-Cheese Sandwiches.
And far in the back, past the photo booth, apothecary bar and walls plastered in contact sheets from an illicit Mexico photo shoot, there’s a private VIP room with a separate entrance and a giant chaise that could comfortably hold you and 10 beauties who appreciate furniture with well-placed handles…
And anybody else who likes to watch.
The Democratic National Committee is having a field day Monday at the expense of its cross-town rivals at the RNC–or the “Risque National Committee,” as the Dems put it in one of the blizzard of e-mailed releases they are sending out.
It started overnight when a politically themed blog, The Daily Caller, released the latest report about RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s spending habits and his affinity for flying private jets at party expense.
The story also said that Steele dropped more than $15,000 of committee money on a recent trip to the Los Angeles area.
Included in the RNC’s report for February spending was $1,946.25 for “meals” at Voyeur West Hollywood, which the online article said was a “bondage themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex.”
The Daily Caller says the FEC filings “suggest” that “Steele travels in style.” From there it wasn’t much of a leap for the DNC to send out emails stating that “Yes, it appears that Michael Steele spent RNC money” at the nightclub.
No way to know, from the monthly RNC filing (all 2,500 pages), just who was there.
The line immediately above the expense in question in the FEC report provides a clue.
It contains a payment to Erik Brown, at an address in Orange, California, who was reimbursed for the $1,946.25.
Brown is a Republican direct mail consultant (his business address is the one on the FEC report). He did not immediately respond to a telephone call from The Baltimore Sun.
In a follow-up item, the Daily Caller reported that Brown appears to be close to Steele: In October, Brown wrote on Twitter, “Enjoying the football game with RNC Chairman Michael Steele. (Eagles vs Redskins at FedEx Field)”.
Doug Heye, the RNC’s chief spokesman, has issued the following statement:
“We are investigating the expenditure in question. The story willfully and erroneously suggests that the expenditure in question was one belonging to the Chairman. This was a reimbursement made to a non-committee staffer. The Chairman was never at the location in question, he had no knowledge of the expenditure, nor does he find the use of committee funds at such a location at all acceptable. Good reporting would make that distinction crystal clear. The committee has requested that the monies be returned to the committee and that the story be corrected so that it is accurate.”
1. 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.” – This was during our off the record conversation Friday, yet the reporter included it on the record.
2. Steele’s office repeatedly refused to explain in specific terms the circumstances of the February charter flights. – This is factually inaccurate. I personally told the reporter on Friday about the specific flights.
3. Steele himself declined numerous interview requests. This is factually inaccurate, Steele himself never declined anything; I did.
4. The piece repeated talks about “Steele’s expenses,” when quite often they are finance/fundraising expenses and not just for the expenditure in question. Though I made a clear distinction with Jonathan, his story fails to do so.
The RNC said the Daily Caller story was “riddled with misleading information and inaccuracies.” According to the RNC, referring to specific passages in the story: The Daily Caller was founded in January by Tucker Carlson, a Fox News veteran, as a counter to liberal online sites like the Huffington Post.
Hollywood has a new hot spot, and if you want to get past the velvet ropes, you need more than your good looks to get you on the inside; you need an inside connection. Welcome to VOYEUR. VOYEUR is the newest intimate lounge that draws guests into a provocative enclave where art, festivities, and entertainment converge in a sophisticated setting unlike any other.
Young entrepreneurs David Koral and Matt Bendik of Chosen Hospitality Group and nightlife veterans, Art and Allan Davis, unveiled VOYEUR in October 2009 in an infamous venue. VOYEUR’s location, formerly known as Peanuts, is the same setting which housed one of the city’s most legendary nightlife parties of the 90’s, “Grandville”. Now, this team seeks to re-introduce and elicit a similar avant-garde concept by pushing this seemingly innocent space and ambiance to the edge of corruption with a teasing combination of elegance and eroticism.
This luxury underground sanctuary features antique chairs and sofas with custom leather corset backs, metal sphere chandeliers, dark wood-paneled walls, risqué photography showcasing women in their lingerie, and a live performance that will titillate the senses, while still remaining classy and tasteful.
We haven’t yet had the pleasure to fully explore this 6000-square-foot West Hollywood luxury lounge; but one thing is sure, VOYEUR is ROCKING! The place has an enclosed glass booth area which is adjacent to the club’s dance floor. We love the private room with its own entrance and bar, perfect for when you want some privacy with few friends of yours. VOYEUR’s signature cocktail menu includes sugar-free, all organic creations, including watermelon jalapeno, blueberry mint, and cucumber olive shots. Guests will also enjoy simple, bite-sized hors d’oeuvres from Chef Micah Wexler (formerly from Craft), including smoked salmon, cucumber tea sandwiches, prime beef sliders, and their signature crispy shrimp cocktail…
Red Country – By The Hammer
According to sources who were in attendance that night, the “official” part of the evening started with 50+ person dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel, then carried on throughout the evening, eventually ending up at Voyeur. While RNC employees, who were in town to recruit members to its “RNC Young Eagles” program, did participate throughout the entire evening and did find their way to the bondage-themed club, Michael Steele himself was “not in attendance” for any portion of the evening. Brown, by the way, is reportedly a “Young Eagle” himself, a fundraising sub-group of the RNC which targets larger donors based on age group.
Presumably, the Daily Caller (which broke this whole story on its website earlier today) is continuing to pour through RNC disclosure documents. If so, it will likely find significant sums spent by the RNC on services rendered by DMI; not only do local politicos report that Brown liked to brag about his ties to this and other state-wide and national organizations and campaigns, but it would seem consistent with someone who would think he could get away with running through such a large expense.
No word from The Monaco Group, a fierce local DMI competitor, but Vince Monaco is presumably enjoying this sideshow almost as much as the Huffington Post. And we’re reminded once again that Republicans like to party, too.
Erik Brown is Chief Executive Officer of DMI, Dynamic Marketing Inc. a direct marketing/media production company with offices in California and Washington DC. DMI provides services for corporations, political campaigns, issue advocacy groups, fundraising professionals, and various private concerns. Recipients of the prestigious AAPC Pollie Award in 2008, DMI’s portfolio includes work for notable candidates as well as a several prominent elected officials and public policy organizations.
A graduate of the University of California Irvine with a degree in Political Science, Erik has been an active member of The National Honor Society, Young Republicans, Friends of the NRA, Claremont Institute, and the Sheriff’s Advisory Council. Apart from a passion for politics and a driving commitment to advocate on behalf of founding principles, Erik is a sportsman and a mentor to young athletes. As an ice hockey coach for over 12 years, his teams have won acclaim as State, District, and National Champions.
Erik is married to Alison Brown, a graduate of Chapman University and an MBA student at UCI’s Merage School of business. Alison has served as President of the Illuminating Engineers Society of Southern California, a mainstay of her industry. A former director of the Sunday school, Alison and Erik reside in Las Flores, California and are actively involved in the ministries of their local church.
Red Country – By Chip Hanlon
“…After a follow-up Red County post reported exclusively on some of the details missing from that original DC piece, for the rest of the day I found myself in contact with a number of that night’s key attendees, some of whom I know personally.
After speaking with multiple sources I understand how the whole night went down but for the sake of putting the focus back where it belongs—the RNC—in my opinion there is only one moment from that night that matters.
Those charges ended up on Brown’s card for just one reason: because the RNC staffer’s credit card was declined at the end of the night.”
Think about that for a second: you now know Brown’s name, and his business has been literally decimated (more on that in a minute), because he happened to be nearby when the bill came due.
“Please help me out and I’ll be sure you are reimbursed right away by the RNC,” was the request—one most others in Brown’s spot would have answered— and there exists a follow-up email chain to prove it.
And it’s a good thing for him that there is such an email exchange because if not, the RNC might still be demanding that it be reimbursed for those charges, as it thundered in its first reply yesterday morning.
Now think about that one for even more than a second, because it represents the type of thing people hate about politicians in general: CYA and throw underlings to the wolves to protect the boss at all costs.
In this case, the first “underling” to be thrown under the bus was going to be an activist and donor, one who had merely gone to the trouble not only of contributing substantially to Republican causes himself, but of recruiting numerous other potential members of the RNC’s “Young Eagles” donor wing.
But what’s one little donor thrown to the wolves when you’re protecting the Chairman of the RNC, right?…]
LA Times: Look but don’t touch at Voyeur
Politico: Fired staffer recruited young donors