Steele caves to foes inside RNC

The chair of the Republican National Committee agrees to new constraints on his financial power that his supporters saw as a rebellion against him.

By Alex Koppelman
Published May 6, 2009 2:25PM (EDT)

With less than six months in at his post, Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele has already faced an unprecedented challenge to his power -- and lost.

Steele was recently confronted by some current and former RNC officers, who were pushing a resolution that would restore constraints on the chair's spending power. He balked at it, calling it a "scheme" to grab influence within the committee, and some of his supporters saw it as a rebellion. The fight could even have led to a vote of no-confidence against Steele at a special meeting later this month. But the Washington Times is now reporting that he's agreed to accept the terms of the resolution, at least until the full RNC meets as scheduled in July.

The bulk of the terms Steele agreed to had been in place before he took office; they were adopted in a resolution in 2004. But he's also been forced to swallow the re-insertion of Jay Banning, a longtime veteran of the organization, back into the RNC. Steele had fired Banning earlier this year, but now he's going to be an advisor to the committee treasurer, who also happens to be one of the rebels.

There will apparently still be a special meeting, though -- conservatives who are pushing a resolution calling upon the Democratic Party to rename itself the Democrat Socialist Party secured enough signatures to bring that up for a vote.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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