The Party of Fiscal Responsibility

From AlterNet:

At the Republican National Committee, the term “office supplies” seems to have taken on a whole new meaning. If you take its recent filings with the Federal Election Commission at face value, the RNC, it seems, requires thousands of dollars worth of pricey clothing and more than a splash of booze to run its office.


Listed on the report in the category of “office supplies” are purchases from a New England winery and a Capitol Hill liquor store, as well as more than $3,800 from a Florida clothing store. The category of “meals” also seems to extend to the sartorial, with a $450 purchase from a high-end Manhattan boutique — one that has no restaurant or take-out shop on the premises — falling into that category, as listed on the RNC’s reports to the FEC.

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That purchase, as well as one for more than $500 from the Florida clothing store, are attributed to RNC Deputy Finance Director Debbie LeHardy, who, according to the report, was reimbursed for them.


Even before news broke this week that the Republican National Committee spent nearly $2,000 at a bondage-themed Hollywood strip bar [Voyeur West Hollywood], RNC Chairman Michael Steele had been sharply criticized for extravagant spending. AlterNet’s review of RNC campaign finance records suggests a pattern of reporting irregularities within an institutional culture of over-the-top extravagance.

In February, as the RNC’s finance chiefs gathered in Boca Grande, Florida, for their Finance Leadership Meeting — the meeting at which the RNC’s “fear” strategy for donors was revealed in a telling PowerPoint presentation — the RNC made purchases totaling $3817 at Fugate’s. On its report, the RNC labels the purchase as “office supplies,” but Fugate’s general manager Nancy Blank says her store doesn’t sell office supplies. Fugate’s sells men’s and women’s clothing and accessories, Blank told AlterNet.


Of that total LeHardy, the RNC deputy finance director, received direct reimbursement for $513. The rest was a separate purchase made the next day, and billed to an RNC American Express account. The name of the AmEx cardholder is not listed on the FEC report.


Records also show that LeHardy received reimbursement for $282 spent at Boca Grande Outfitters, which bills itself as “the area’s most complete saltwater fly fishing and light tackle outfitter.” The report designates the reimbursement for “meals.”


In December, RNC reimbursed LeHardy for $453 worth of “meals” from Henri Bendel, a posh boutique on New York’s Fifth Avenue. Bendel’s is an upscale source for costume jewelery, handbags and make-up.


LeHardy was also reimbursed for over $1852 in “tips” for unspecified services obtained during December, and an additional $966 for the February meeting in Florida.

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The RNC told the FEC that it spent $982 of its donors’ money on “office supplies” from the Boyden Valley Winery last December. “We do not sell office supplies; we are a legal winery operating since 1991 in Cambridge, Vermont,” co-owner Linda Boyden told AlterNet.

Between December and February, the RNC bought over $700 worth of so-called “office supplies” from Congressional Liquors, a booze and sandwich shop on Washington, D.C.’s Capitol Hill.

Campaign finance experts told AlterNet that political parties have broad latitude to decide for themselves what a legitimate political expense, as long as the outlays are plausibly related to a campaign.


“Liquor is not what a reasonable person would understand an office supply,” according to Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center.


The FEC Web site states that when an individual is being reimbursed for “office supplies,” the party is expected to describe what sort of office supply was purchased if it’s not apparent by virtue of the type of vendor from which the purchase was made.

It’s not clear why the RNC would be buying “girlish” accessories or fishing outfits, whether as office supplies or not. The RNC has gotten into trouble for political spending on fashion before. During the 2008 presidential campaign, a national scandal erupted when the RNC was found to have spent over $150,000 on a wardrobe for vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.


The committee’s FEC reports are a litany of luxury hotels and elegant restaurants. While ordinary Americans struggle to make ends meet, RNC staffers are regularly bedding down at Spago Beverly Hills, the Ritz Carlton, the Four Seasons, and the Venetian in Las Vegas. Someone even ran up $5884 hotel bill across the pond at the Dorchester Hotel in London last November. Records show that staffers routinely drop hundreds of dollars at Charlie Palmer’s Steak House, the Old Ebbitt Grill, and other premium eateries. However, the RNC’s finance reports hint at deeper problem — most notably the thousands of dollars in expenditures AlterNet found that appear to be misstated in campaign finance records.


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21 responses to “The Party of Fiscal Responsibility

  1. Just to play devil’s advocate…how are the Dem’s in this? I have a funny feeling, they’re probably not much better.

    • while i’m sure the dems have been too extravagant on occasion, nobody has been able to find anything close to this, at least from what i’ve read so far.

      • writechic

        Funny response from the DNC on that point:

        β€œThe DNC, unlike the RNC, does not conduct business while watching women engaged in lesbian bondage scenes,” says the DNC spokesperson.

        • they probably had that already typed up and ready to go, just waiting for the rethugs to go to a lesbian bondage club.

          • writechic


            What other canned responses do they have then?

            The DNC does not hire male prostitutes and log them as temporary employee.

            The DNC does not do business in rented limos with naked lady mudflaps.

            • they sit around with madlibs and just think up stuff so they’ll have their statements ready. for example, this came in handy:

              The DNC does not spend $150,000 on clothing for vice presidential candidates, especially ones who can’t list the names of newspapers and magazines she reads.

              they made that one up when they were just sitting around and drinking and being silly. they never thought they’d actually use it!

  2. Some nights, the stories just write themselves, don’t they?

  3. I LOVE the Hell No button.

    I was thinking of stocking up on some office supplies as well, Vodka, Lobster, you know, the usual stuff.

    The RNC is “poshing ” itself right out the door.

  4. Lets be fair, they ran out of their famous “sharp pencils” back about 30 years ago when Reagan walked the earth in human form. Looks like the RNC will look like punks when the FL bunch gets investigated by the feds. More popcorn!

    • i love that the floriduhhhh rethugs are going to get taken down by the teabaggers. the rethugs are the ones who kept stoking the fire, so it’s only fair that they get burned.

  5. Joanaroo

    RNC: We are the RepubliCons! We have to get our bling on! Although we say the Average Joe we’re for…we turn our nose up at the poor! We have no need for health care for all! Just give us booze, strippers, whores and we’ll have a ball! We like sex, loose women and s&m. But we say Jesus is our bestest friend. So too bad we out-class Joe the Plumber. To give money to us you have to be dumb and dumber!

    • what gets me is that there are a lot of rethugs who will just dismiss this as business as usual, something that all politicians do. they never seem to see the irony when the rethugs come around to tell them that they’re just like them. πŸ™„

  6. Joanaroo

    Yes, we’re the RepubliCons! With a need to get our jiggy on! We tell you we need those office supplies. That’s just more of our great big lies! Now a trip to fish is a great way to get clout, among our whores who fish for our trouser trout. And we just love our Michael Steele. You think for giving us so much we’re gonna fire our big wheel? No, we love being in the RNC! Where else can we get so much for free?

    • Joanaroo is getting her Dr. Seuss on!

      You are very good with the rhymes,
      talking about the RNC crimes,
      but now you have gone all out,
      telling us of trouser trout!
      I wish they’d all get a clue ~
      Will the voters kick them out with their shoe?

  7. i love how the MSM (like tweety) keep “justifying” most of this with “you have to spend money to raise money”

    • i didn’t hear tweety say that. he’s been pretty good at slamming the rethugs and especially the teabaggers lately. as annoying as he can be, he knows his history, and he uses it as a weapon against the rightwingnuts who try to sound smart on his program.