Good news: RNC burning through midterms money on planes, limos, meals, hotels

I don’t know what to say. Although I’m pretty sure the chairman does.

There’s no way I can do justice to the piece with a blockquote so consider this merely a jumping off point to read the whole thing:

Just last week, RNC officials touted a January fundraising haul of more than $10 million. But after hosting the sun-filled winter meeting in Hawaii, paying for the holiday party and taking care of other bills, the committee spent almost all of it. Consequently, the RNC added only $1 million to the committee’s $8.4 million in cash, the reports show…

The RNC’s fundraising problems could have real consequences in the fall, since the RNC typically acts as a bank in midterms, swooping in to help cash-strapped candidates. It also is responsible for running the party’s vaunted 72-hour get-out-the-vote program…

The 2005 committee spent $1.35 million on lodging, compared with $1.5 million last year. The locations also improved. There were overnights at Ritz-Carlton hotels in Chicago, Denver, Marina del Rey, Westchester and Boston. The committee dropped $8,000 for two stays at Hotel Vitale, which boasts panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay.

RNC meal costs are among the categories that saw the biggest increases under Steele’s leadership. In Beverly Hills, Calif., the RNC spent $10,600 on food and lodging for a fundraiser featuring former Speaker Newt Gingrich at Spago, the flagship restaurant of the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group. In total, the Wolfgang Puck enterprise has collected more than $94,000 from the RNC for catering services, compared with zero dollars in 2005.

“It’s symbolic of the way they are looking at the building and the way they are spending money,” said one donor. “It’s a culture. During the Bush administration, Karl Rove would bitch if there were flowers on the tables.”

Much, much more at the link. Rather than take the easy “Steele and his team are insane” line here, let me try the trickier devil’s advocate approach of “Steele and his team are insane but it may not hurt us.” First, note that no one’s claiming that conservative donors have stopped donating. The claim is merely that they’ve stopped donating to the RNC; the Republican Governors Association and the NRSC, for example, are doing fine. That’s still problematic given Politico’s point about the RNC acting like a bank for candidates during crunch time, but it’s not like people are boycotting Republican organizations altogether because of Steele. Second, while the 2005/2009 comparison is eye-opening, harsh realities circa 2005 simply aren’t as harsh in 2009 thanks to the Internet and online contribution mechanisms. Scott Brown has almost as much cash in the bank as the RNC does, and while he’s a special case given the national attention paid to the Massachusetts election, the fact remains that candidates this year will be able to raise their own money in ways that weren’t possible five years ago. They’ll need righty blogs and talk radio to put out the call for donations, granted, but that shouldn’t be hard.

Third, ultimately no one cares how much money anyone raises. The bottom line is winning elections, which the GOP had no problem doing in 1994 despite having been vastly outspent by Democrats. Not only will the Dems have to vastly outspend them again to blunt the conservative trend among the electorate, but Republican enthusiasm for taking back Congress is so sky high that I can’t believe money won’t be pouring in come, say, September. It might not be pouring into the RNC — who wants their cash being used on another catered Wolfgang Puck banquet? — but if it’s pouring into the NRSC or NRCC (which is also flailing) or to candidates themselves, who cares? Exit question: Our annoyance at Steele aside, how big a deal is this really?