Tuesday, December 22, 2009

RNC Chairman Michael Steele Cashes In

The revelation that Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is being paid for speeches outside of his RNC salary is ample reason for the committee members to recall and replace him in the post.

As a former regional political director for the RNC and chief of staff for a co-chairman of the RNC who has a reasonable understanding of the mechanics of the RNC, it is disturbing to learn that Mr. Steele is marketing himself through speaker bureaus for speaking fees. Further, it is unprecedented. No other recent RNC chairman ever accepted fees to speak while chairman. There may be examples of a chairman earning income from other endeavors pre-dating their election to the post, but that is far different from a sitting chairman profiting from a task that is part of the job description.

Mr. Steele's leadership qualities are in doubt, with this episode only casting more skepticism on his ability to lead the GOP to a more fruitful era. Former RNC Jim Nicholson, who deserves credit for his performance in the job, said of the matter: "Taking time out to speak for the benefit of one's own bank account is not appropriate." Usually former chairmen keep quiet about the performance of their successors, so the fact that Mr. Nicholson and former RNC chairmen Frank Fahrenkopf and Rich Bond have criticized Mr. Steele for his speaking fees indicates the gravity of the revelation.

The committee members of the RNC are urged to dismiss Mr. Steele and find a leader who is up to the near Augean task of revitalizing and making relevant the Republican Party.