RNC employees were, allegedly, in attendance but the chairman himself was not, so looks like Steele will escape this particular 40-car PR pile-up.

The O.C. connection? As the Daily Caller story in that second link shows, DMI President and Gen Next member, Erik Brown, was who picked up that tab and ended up expensing it to the RNC.

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…

So it was related to business, and for all we know might even have netted the RNC some cash. The libertarian angel on my shoulder is telling me to shrug it off and remind people that not everyone in the party is a social con — lesbian bondage fans have rights, too! — but that’s not really the issue. The real issue, I dare say, is that if you’re going to risk a media clusterfark and the antagonism of a huge chunk of your base by conducting official business in some sort of S&M theme restaurant, use. your own. money.

Exit question: How much will this glorious chapter in the Steele chairmanship cost the RNC in lost donations? I’m afraid to even attempt an over/under.

Update: Hot off the presses from the RNC.

At the outset, Chairman Steele was not at Voyeur West Hollywood. He had no knowledge of the expenditure, nor does he find the use of committee funds at such a location acceptable. While some in the press have suggested Chairman Steele was at the venue, he was not and no proof has been offered that he was. When the expense was incurred, Chairman Steele was on United flight # 0084, returning from the RNC Winter Meeting.

Upon finding out of the expenditure this morning, Chairman Steele demanded the committee get to the bottom of this matter immediately.

The committee has taken appropriate steps to address the issues relating to the reimbursement of certain expenses. First, as reported, the expenditure in question will be recouped by the RNC. Second, appropriate personnel actions have been taken and accounting and reimbursement processes are being revised to ensure that such an action cannot reoccur. We recognize the difficulty this incident has caused and assure our members and supporters that any necessary and proper remediation is being implemented immediately.

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.

I’m confused. Is Erik Brown the loyal donor referred to in the last paragraph or the staffer?

Tags: Republicans