Michael Steele In Hot Water... Again

For more suspicious goings-on in RNC spending:
At issue are critical preparations for the national convention each party holds every four years. The conventions are massive undertakings with budgets in the tens of millions of dollars. Thousands of party activists stream into town and byzantine campaign laws complicate fundraising efforts. The conventions also offer each party its most high-profile effort to market their respective presidential candidates to the country.

To head this effort, Steele installed his former personal assistant, Cook, as the RNC’s “liaison to the convention.” The Washington Times first reported that GOP insiders were unhappy with the seemingly extravagant compensation she was receiving – a $25,000 signing bonus and salary of $180,000.

The Committee on Arrangements for the 2012 Republican National Convention, the legally separate organization from the RNC that is paying Cook, is also apparently paying rent on a waterfront mansion for Cook to reside in.

The payments as listed in Federal Election Commission filings are ostensibly to Sun Vista Realty. Three GOP officials close to the situation confirm the payments are for a waterfront mansion on South Yacht Drive in Treasure Island, Fla. Public records confirm Cook is living at the address.

The 3,143 square foot house features a private pool and dock. Including the garage and open porch, the house is over 4,200 square feet. A spokesman for Steele did not reply to a request for comment.

In the 2008 cycle, top convention officials did not move to the host city until April 2008. When they did, they lived in sparse, one bedroom apartments one or two blocks from the convention site.

Steele is facing charges of cronyism for Cook’s extravagant salary and accommodations. But also on the payroll are Cook’s son, Lee, and sister, Betina Barcus, who has been paid over $25,000 for “hotel management consulting.”
As much as I think that Steele has made mistakes, I think that he has also bee good for the RNC. He has brought a fresh face and ideas to the mix -- however unpopular they may have been.

The irony is that, for as much as other GOPers criticize Steele, the Republican party took back control of the House and made gains in the Senate.

Whether or not these victories were a result of Steele's policies/actions is up for debate...

Photo: Molly Riley/REUTERS