Man who spent RNC money at racy nightclub identified

Political consultant, not Michael Steele, reportedly visited bondage-themed venue -- but RNC still paid

Published March 29, 2010 7:56PM (EDT)

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is off the hook for the almost $2,000 spent at Voyeur West Hollywood, a risque nightclub. Sort of.

The man who actually spent the money has been identified as Erik Brown, a Republican consultant. And the RNC maintains that Steele had no involvement whatsoever.

"The chairman was never at the location in question; he had no knowledge of the expenditure, nor does he find the use of committee funds at such a location at all acceptable," an RNC spokesman has said.

That may not be enough to get him off the hook altogther, however. There's still the issue of an expenditure like this being approved at all, and there's a larger context of skepticism about consultants that Steele has brought in during his tenure at the RNC; that was one of the reasons RNC members forced the chairman to give up some of his control over the group's finances.

And this incident also gives further fuel to those on the right who are already less than enamored of Steele. Take conservative group Concerned Women for America; in a statement, their CEO asked, "Did they really agree to reimburse nearly $2,000 for a bondage-themed night club? We have several questions. For the RNC: Why would a staffer believe that this is acceptable, and has this kind of thing been approved in the past?"

Brown will reportedly return the money to the RNC.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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