Saturday, January 3, 2009

Michael Steele’s Record at GOPAC

A blogger buddy of mine Kevin Tracy has an interesting post today on the RNC Chairman’s race. Tracy points out some issues with the way Michael Steele has managed GOPAC. He writes…

Since Steele became Chairman, GOPAC has spent $1.4 million on administrative costs alone while contributing less than $35,000 to Republican candidates and parties across the country. For those of you that don’t like math, GOPAC pays it’s top administrators $40 for every $1 they give to all the federal and non-federal candidates and parties they contribute to. It’s more absurd than a three legged giraffe on roller blades and it’s an insult to everybody who has given money to GOPAC under Mike Steele’s leadership.

What’s worse is that this only begins to scrape the surface of all the problems with GOPAC under Steele.

While I certainly don’t mean to accuse Mike Steele of cronyism, his Chairmanship of GOPAC has proven he’s completely incompetent to do anything about it. And with the Republican Party suffering so terribly by the actions of corrupt and power hungry individuals in our leadership, we need a leader who is ready to audit the entire party process on day one and tackle the roadblocks.Mike Steele simply isn’t that guy.

This report is very troubling to me on Steele. The chairman’s job is largely to be the administrative director of the Party, working behind the scenes to recruit and promote candidates and to provide assistance and leadership to the local state parties. If the way Steele ran GOPAC is any indication, then he will spend the time, money, and resources of the RNC to promote the RNC and himself and not funnel the support down to the state parties and candidates.

I believe this centrally run strategy is a failed strategy and instead the party should turn back to a grassroots state run party. The Nation recently wrote an interesting piece on how much the Democrats success in 2008 was produced by building their state parties enabling them to compete is states like Indiana and Virginia. The result is that they gained not only the White House but also seven seats in the Senate (possibly eight with Minnesota), twenty-one seats in the House, and held sixty state legislative chambers. Whomever takes over as RNC Chairman, needs to realize that success will come not from the Washington office but from the state and local party groups.

This coming week will be an important three days in the RNC Chairman’s race with a debate on Monday, a straw poll by the RNC’s Conservative Steering Committee on Tuesday, and a forum with the entire RNC in Washington on Wednesday. This past week was a difficult week for my favorite candidate Chip Saltsman, so it will be interesting to see how he comes out of this next one. It will be also interesting to see how Steele handles these reports on his management of GOPAC and who emerges as the frontrunner. Stay tuned to the Tolbert Report for the latest developments.

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From another perspective – Another blogging buddy of mine, and local Arkansas Saline County boy at that, Mark White weighs with a different perspective from inside GOPAC…

Your buddy is repeating the same criticism that's been floating around the 'net for some time now. The problem is its rather half-baked. Hopefully I can speak with a little bit of authority on this since I worked for GOPAC many moons ago.

GOPAC has never raised significant amounts of money for candidates, and has never attempted to do so. Since its beginning under Pete DuPont, GOPAC has existed to provide training, polling, and policy guidance to candidates, helping them understand how to campaign, how to market themselves, and how to market their ideas. Under Newt Gingrich's leadership in the 80's and 90's, GOPAC perfected these methods with monthly audio tapes they mailed to just about every Republican candidate in the country.

This type of training and advice can be extremely valuable to candidates, but on financial reports it doesn't show up as contributions -- it shows up as administrative costs. So, it's not a bad thing that GOPAC spent millions on administrative costs -- that's the way it's supposed to work.

Now, let me be clear about the caveats -- first, I don't necessarily support Steele for chairman. And second, I worked for GOPAC under Newt; I can't vouch for how effective a leader Steele has been. But all of the criticism I've seen is based solely on the money stats. My point is that if that's the only support for the criticism, it's completely baseless.


Good points Mark. Thanks.

2 comments:

Mark White said...

Your buddy is repeating the same criticism that's been floating around the 'net for some time now. The problem is its rather half-baked. Hopefully I can speak with a little bit of authority on this since I worked for GOPAC many moons ago.

GOPAC has never raised significant amounts of money for candidates, and has never attempted to do so. Since its beginning under Pete DuPont, GOPAC has existed to provide training, polling, and policy guidance to candidates, helping them understand how to campaign, how to market themselves, and how to market their ideas. Under Newt Gingrich's leadership in the 80's and 90's, GOPAC perfected these methods with monthly audio tapes they mailed to just about every Republican candidate in the country.

This type of training and advice can be extremely valuable to candidates, but on financial reports it doesn't show up as contributions -- it shows up as administrative costs. So, it's not a bad thing that GOPAC spent millions on administrative costs -- that's the way it's supposed to work.

Now, let me be clear about the caveats -- first, I don't necessarily support Steele for chairman. And second, I worked for GOPAC under Newt; I can't vouch for how effective a leader Steele has been. But all of the criticism I've seen is based solely on the money stats. My point is that if that's the only support for the criticism, it's completely baseless.

Larry Jackson said...

The most troubling portion of the way GoPac was ran during Steele's tenure is the fact that he seemed to be more interested in raising his own profile, rather than raising the profile of the candidates he was supposed to be helping.

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