What Goes On in the DNC Stays in the DNC

April 5th, 2010 at 3:43 pm | 25 Comments |

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Both the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee have held events in racy locales. But who gets the biggest bang for their donor buck?

As reported here at FrumForum, nurse the Democrats spent $5,850 on a December evening at Washington, D.C. nightclub Josephine, a venue complete with stripper poles and a “skimpily clothed go-go dancer”. On the other hand, the Republicans spent $1,946.25 on a January after-party at L.A.’s Voyeur West Hollywood.

Presumably, these events were held to thank donors for contributing to the respective national committees. So which political party got the most donor dollars out of their scandalous events?

Taking a look at the FEC filings, FrumForum compared the amount raised in the month of the event to the cost of the event:

Who says RNC Chairman Michael Steele is a poor money-manager? The results show that the Republicans raised more money per dollar spent on the event. For every dollar spent at Voyeur, the RNC raised over $5,000 in the month. For every dollar spent at Josephine, however, the Dems raised a paltry $761.09 in December 2009.

Indeed, the RNC kept spending at their parties under control. As a percentage of overall expenditures in the month in question, the Republicans spent less on their wild night out than Democrats:

As it turns out, the GOP spent 0.022% of their January expenditures on Voyeur, while the Democrats spent a whopping 0.085% of their December expenditures at Josephine.

Obviously, this is not a scientific measure of donor event effectiveness. But best we could tell, the Republican National Committee got far more bang for their nightclub buck, and were more conservative about their spending than the Democrats were.

At the end of the day, if the Republicans and Democrats are both going to embarrass their donors with these sorts of expenses, at least the GOP is more fiscally responsible about it…

Recent Posts by Tim Mak

25 Comments so far ↓

  • JeninCT

    Good job, Tim. Steele is long overdue for some decent press. Could you email it to Maxine Waters?

  • dlkueter

    The real difference between these situations is the number of Republicans who paint themselves as holier-than-thou supporters of “family values”. On the flip side, strippers are part of the Democratic base.

  • balconesfault

    Seriously … you’re comparing Josephine with Voyeur West Hollywood?

    Josephine is your normal high-end yuppie nightclub that caters to corporate events.

    Voyeur West Hollywood is a B&D themed nightclub featuring simulated lesbian sex that cultivates the dreaded Hollywood celebrity crowd.

    Seriously – if someone is embarrassed about having gone to Josephine, they’re pretty much going to have to avoid stepping into anything less stodgy than the average country club ballroom.

  • rbottoms

    But Democrats can still cling to one thing: They remain the kings of collecting money from big donors.

    A little-noticed Federal Election Commission report released this month — and spotted by Washington Post congressional guru Paul Kane — shows that the three main Democratic committees raised more than twice as much from large donors as their Republican counterparts last year.

    We’re spanking GOP booty in fundraising.

    So, no one cares.

    Meanwhile your guys are busy ripping each other to shreds. I predict outrage with a slight chance of jail.

    Apr 02, 2010 (The Orlando Sentinel – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) –

    As Winter Park Rep. Dean Cannon’s power and prestige grew, so did his travel and spending on the state Republican Party dime.

    During a two-year period ending in late 2008, the lawyer slated to become House speaker charged $175,000 to his Republican Party of Florida-issued American Express card, according to credit-card statements obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.

    Expenses ranged from a $19,151 charter flight to New York so fellow House GOP leaders could raise cash and see the lights at Rockefeller Center, to $24.94 for a baby toy for a major donor. Cannon’s AmEx card paid $4,291 for a professional photographer to shoot photos for his campaign Web site, for Disney World fundraisers and for dinner checks that sometimes reached $1,000 or more to woo big donors and entertain fellow GOP leaders.

    Cannon also reimbursed the party for $2,994.95 for meals that he says were accidentally charged to the party card instead of a personal one — including $2,530 for a 2008 birthday party at Hot Olives restaurant in Winter Park.

    As details of GOP leaders living the high life have trickled into the public arena during the past 18 months, party officials have argued the spending was unremarkable and necessary for a political operation tasked with raising tens of millions of dollars a year to help candidates and causes.

    “I have always been careful to use the party’s credit card for party business purposes like raising money, recruiting candidates and helping elect Republicans to the Florida House of Representatives,” Cannon said in a statement Thursday.

    But now those private perks of big-league politics are at the center of a widening battle between Cannon, other party leaders and Jim Greer, the former GOP party chairman who is the subject of a criminal investigation over an internal party financial
    scandal. It’s a battle that will keep the party’s fundraising and spending practices front and center as it moves into the most competitive election year in recent Florida history.

  • ottovbvs

    ……your “protesting too much” efforts verge on the pathetic Tim…..no one is remotely interested

  • TerryF98

    Hmm, a bridge too far me thinks.

    More important is that Steele is bleeding high value donors and fundraisers. The Dems are out-raising him and he is outspending them.

    Fiscal conservative as always spending more than he brings in!

  • TerryF98

    Comment of the week! Bravo

    On the flip side, strippers are part of the Democratic base.

  • Moderate

    Echoing what everyone else is saying… it wouldn’t matter if the Republicans only spent $10 at a strip club. It runs completely counter to the image they are trying to project.

    It would be like the Democrats spending money at a white supremacy rally and claiming “but we didn’t spend very much!”

  • TerryF98

    RNC SLOWLY MOVING TOWARDS FIRING BLACK CHAIRMAN: “Republican National Committee chief of staff Ken McKay has resigned in the wake of a controversy over an expenditure at a risque California nightclub, according to RNC communications director Doug Heye.” They’re in shit, man. Big donors are going elsewhere en masse now, and that frustration didn’t start with one $2,000 sexytime receipt last week. But the RNC doesn’t want to fire its first black chairman before the election, because then they might lose the black vote! [WP/The Fix]

    Read more at Wonkette: http://www.wonkette.com/#ixzz0kGnJD4AU

  • rbottoms

    On the flip side, strippers are part of the Democratic base.

    And that’s a bad thing because?

    I have to think, a significant portion of their clientele are hard working ‘mericans with f100 pickups and ‘Honky Tonk Bedonka Donk’ on their radio, at least once Rush is off the air.

    See us liberals think sexuality is something to be discussed openly, not dirty or bad. It’s only when you rail against lasciviousness and homosexuality then get caught in that strip club, or airport bathroom seeking a quick BJ that it becomes anybody else’s business.

  • TerryF98

    “And that’s a bad thing because?”

    Nothing bad about it, some of my best friends are strippers!

    In other news John McCain now says that he never considered himself a “Maverick”
    Which is strange because I distinctly remember him and Snowbilly using that phrase about him eleventy billion times during the election campaign.

    I guess now saying he is not a maverick is a mavericky thing to do!

  • rbottoms

    He was never a Maverick.

    James Garner, Jack Kelley, and Rodger Moore were Mavericks.

  • rbottoms

    Now McCain might be a Pinto or a Yugo.

    Or maybe a Gremlin.

  • captn

    dlkueter // Apr 5, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    “The real difference between these situations is the number of Republicans who paint themselves as holier-than-thou supporters of “family values”. On the flip side, strippers are part of the Democratic base.”

    Yep. The Democratic Party doesn’t claim Jesus as a member.

  • Arch

    Politico had a good piece on the Young Eagles program. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0410/35411.html

  • joedee1969

    While the press distracts everyone with this nonsense. The left are killing the middle class:


  • rbottoms

    While the press distracts everyone with this nonsense. The left are killing the middle class:

    I saw some pretty pictures of trucks, a mention of Alan Greenspan and not a single fact to support the contention the left is killing the middle class.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but this near-depression started under George W. Bush and just over a year since taking office said recession is over.

    I am willing to bet that these same long haul truckers mentioned in the article will benefit from being able to get health insurance. That, DOW 10,000+ is better than DOW 4,000 for them and the companies that hire them to drive stuff around.

    It’s a nice talking point, or shrieking hysteria depending on your point of view, but Obama has had roughly 14 months to undo the damage of eight years under G.W. While it’s hard to lose two wars, he gave it his best shot.

    And while a great many Republicans think the president is the Anti-Christ, the person who drove this world to the edge of Apocalypse was the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania, Avenue.

  • dlkueter

    “The Democratic Party doesn’t claim Jesus as a member.”

    Well, we don’t claim to be the exclusive spokesparty for him while we’re visiting our mistresses in South America or cruising for sex in airport bathrooms, if that’s what you mean.

  • pre-Reaganite

    The most effective to do would be to combine this with the resurrection of the McCain-Palin ticket. Now that would be so forward looking, so visionary.

  • LauraNo

    Another post playing tit-for tat. I thought this website was concerned with “building a conservatism that can win again”. Do you really think making excuses for RNC spending gets rid of the problem? The problem is the perception in donor’s minds. Besides this a really lame attempt. The first thing that comes to mind is the fact that health care reform was winding it’s way through Congress, of COURSE donations to RNC were up. Fact that the young Eagles went to a bondage club in that month wouldn’t seem pertinent. Another thing, ‘conservatism’ is conservatism, it doesn’t go around making excuses for republicans. I think you’re off-base here, or not a conservative.

  • 112358

    Mr. Mak, I am new to this forum and have been impressed with Mr. Frum’s critical thinking skills. But I have to admit that I do not understand the point of your post. Is this just a fluff humor piece or are you seriously claiming, as your statistics imply, that Mr. Steele masterminded the expenditure of a few thousand dollars that can be linked to revenue exceeding 10 million?

  • CentristNYer

    As has been noted here previously, this is all good and well, but the GOP has gained many of its votes by promoting initiatives that “protect the sanctity of the family,” which is why the bondage club expenditure is far more newsworthy and smells much more hypocritical. The DNC has had its lapses in judgment, but the party has also been much less sanctimonious, too.

  • Dana King

    What’s fair is fair, and the DNC should be held accountable for how it spends its contributions. The problem is, this post reads like a “they do it, too” excuse for the Voyeur fiasco. The Republicans position themselves as the moral standard bearers, thus inviting a higher standard for themselves. Let’s wait until that house is in order before claiming the other kids do it, too.

  • tomd2


    I thnk your numbers are wishful thinking. Let me explain why.

    First let me get out of the way the points that I think are irrelevant to your argument. I think both dlkueter and balconesfault have valid points, but neither addresses the main argument that you make. The media picks up on this because the man-bites-dog aspect is the hypocrisy of the family values party along with the headline-friendly salacious adjectives and nouns (e.g., topless, lesbian-themed, bondage, simulated lesbian sex, Voyeur West Hollywood, etc.). However, the comparison to Josephine is silly. The latter is a high-end nightclub for people who want to impress girlfriends or potential girlfriends with how much money they can throw away on an evening of dancing and champagne. From the little I know about the former, if you ask any family-values Republican donor (or even near-complete-degenerate Republican donor) which place they would want their twenty-something daughter to be in, they would undoubtedly pick Josephine. She might have too much to drink at Josephine or go home with the wrong guy, but her role at the Voyeur West Hollywood would be more likely to be as a performer: possibly in a plastic box, in the men’s room, simulating sex with another woman.

    On my main point: Why does the RNC maintain this “Young Eagles” thing or the RNC’s hypocritical expense reporting, and why do you defend either? I don’t see your case on the money.

    1.On expenses: consider the luxury goods billed to the RNC as “office supplies” at Tiny Jewel Box, et alia in addition to the “meals” at Voyeur, Vermont wineries, and other non-eateries (sample link below). We don’t know how much they are pissing away on themselves, because they are hiding it. Only when they hide it really badly, is it coming out (e.g., meals at a bondage-themed strip club, office supplies at a jewelry store).


    2. On fund-raising prowess, my understanding from the (few) press pieces that have actually looked into how much the RNC got from the Young Eagles suggests that their expenditures EXCEEDED donations from Young Eagles members. Rather than getting 5K+ per “scandalous buck,” they went into the red from the members in question. You could make the broader argument that even if the fresh, young (i.e., under 45) things in the Young Eagles didn’t contribute, their participation got them to encourage Mum and Dad to open their checkbooks. However, I can’t quite see 40-year-old junior getting his mum to contribute more than she had already to keep estate taxes low and make abortion illegal by telling her what a great lesbian-bondage show the RNC took him to.

    The vast majority of RNC, DNC, or most any other non-lobbyist contributors want their money to be used for their ideological agenda or to support candidates they like. Sure, they appreciate a picture with the Senator or President (or a tchotchke), but they want the bulk of their money to go to their cause. Parties aren’t charities, but I expect their reactions are the same when they find out that fund-raising costs crowd out expenditures on the real program.

  • BoolaBoola

    The Democrats are not the ones trying to run on “family values”! The Dems do not claim the right to tell you how to run your sex life. The Republicans, stridently, do. That’s why it matters more when Republicans stray.

    Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned, but David Vitter and John Ensign and Mark Sanford are still polluting the halls of government with their scandal-ridden selves.

    It’s the hypocricy, stupid.