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Fox News Gives Short Shrift To RNC Scandal Involving Private Jets, Limos And Bondage-Themed Nightclub

Reported by Ellen - March 30, 2010 -

Remember John Edwards’ $400 haircut? Nancy Pelosi’s jet travel? These stories were covered endlessly on Fox News. Yet in two hours of prime time viewing last night (3/29/10), I only saw one brief mention of The Daily Caller’s report on the RNC’s profligate spending, including $1,946.25 spent at Voyeur West Hollywood, a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex. What are the chances that if this were a Democrat that it wouldn’t have been as big an effing deal as Joe Biden’s big effing deal? With video.


In an article called, High flyer: RNC Chairman Steele suggested buying private jet with GOP funds, The Daily Caller reported,

“While Steele has not purchased a plane, he continues to charter them. According to federal disclosure records, the RNC spent $17,514 on private aircraft in the month of February alone (as well as $12,691 on limousines during the same period). There are no readily identifiable private plane expenses for Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine in the DNC’s last three months of filings.

…Once on the ground, FEC filings suggest, Steele travels in style. A February RNC trip to California, for example, included a $9,099 stop at the Beverly Hills Hotel, $6,596 dropped at the nearby Four Seasons, and $1,620.71 spent [update: the amount is actually $1,946.25] at Voyeur West Hollywood, a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex.

…RNC trips to other cities produced bills from a long list of chic and costly hotels such as the Venetian and the M Resort in Las Vegas, and the W (for a total of $19,443) in Washington. A midwinter trip to Hawaii cost the RNC $43,828, not including airfare.
Steele himself declined numerous interview requests, though his defenders point out that luxurious accommodations are sometimes necessary to attract big-time donors, especially since Republicans remain in the minority in Washington.

Still, the nature and size of Steele’s expenses are likely to reignite persistent complaints from high-end donors and key party figures that the RNC is bleeding cash in the months before a pivotal midterm election. Several months into Steele’s term as chairman, his spending spurred Republican committeemen to pass a resolution requiring checks to be signed by at least two RNC officers, and contracts over $100,000 to go out to competitive bidding.”

A later statement by Tucker Carlson, founder of the Daily Caller and a Fox News contiributor, read, “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.

Carlson also stated, “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?”

Carlson also noted that numerous interview requests to Steele had been denied.

Given the importance of the 2010 elections on Fox – Heck, Fox News contributor Dick Morris openly campaigned for a Republican candidate that very night on Hannity – it’s surprising that this story has not gotten much scrutiny. Well, OK, not so surprising given the cozy relationship between Fox and RNC head Michael Steele. Steel is a former Fox News contributor and, as Julie recently posted, is currently promoting Sean Hannity’s new book.

Here’s how the Daily Caller story was covered on On The Record:
During “The Best of the Rest” segment that plays at the end of every show, Greta Van Susteren announced, “We know this for sure: It is never good when a political story involves a bondage-themed nightclub. Now that being said, the Republican National Committee is investigating how almost $2,000 in party – political party, that is – funds were spent at a bondage-themed strip club in Hollywood. An RNC official says a donor submitted the expense from Club Voyeur. RNC spokesperson Dough Heye says the strip club visit was inappropriate. No kidding. And the RNC wants its money back and the RNC also insists Chairman Michael Steele did not attend Club Voyeur. The Chairman knew nothing about the incident and personal actions have been made so a similar incident never happens.”

Van Susteren never mentioned the private jet travel or the other luxuries under scrutiny. The entire report was over in less than a minute.

UPDATE: Megyn Kelly did a reasonably good job of interviewing RNC spokesman Doug Heye about this yesterday on her show. But she also focused failed to go into the questionable expenditures beyond the strip club. She also failed to press Heye about who approved the expenditure since two top RNC officials needed to sign off on it.