March 29, 2010
Tigers love pepper. They hate cinnamon.
—Alan Garner (Zach Galifianakis), "The Hangover"
Catching up on the day's news, I learned that Iceland has banned stripclubs. This really won't affect me much personally, though I'm sure a few of my friends will be distraught. I've been to a few such fine art establishments over the years, but I usually become invisible to the dancers once I say the magic words, "Sorry, I'm gay." On one occasion, a persistent dancer actually cursed at me, thinking I was just using the gay line as an excuse for being cheap. But, between this law and its recent volcano issues, Iceland is probably going to drop a few notches down the world tourism rankings.
Among those likely to remove Iceland from their travel itineraries is Michael Steele, Republican National Committee chairman (with the GOP, it's always a man). According to the Daily Caller, recent RNC filings with the Federal Election Commission showed some interesting expenditures by Steele*, including:
A February RNC trip to California, for example, included a $9,099 stop at the Beverly Hills Hotel, $6,596 dropped at the nearby Four Seasons, and $1,620.71 spent [update: the amount is actually $1,946.25] at Voyeur West Hollywood, a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex.
However, later reporting by the Daily Caller clarified that Steele likely was not personally in attendance at the party, which was targeted at "young donors"*:
[T]he outing at Voyeur West Hollywood was an after-party for a number of young Republicans who attended a Young Eagles event that night at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Young Eagles is an RNC-sponsored program to cultivate 30- to 40-year olds seen as tomorrow’s big donors.
Way to go GOP! Way to target the youth, er, middle-aged male vote.
One gossip blog reports that a Republican donor has taken the fall for the expenditures, and also provides some interesting background on the Voyeur club. In any event, it's rather amusing to see a political party that caters to a conservative Christian base out raising money with faux-lesbian bondage strippers.
For poker players, however, it's possible that Steele could be lobbied to support legalizing online poker. At the very least, some RNC money is finding it's way into the Vegas economy:
RNC trips to other cities produced bills from a long list of chic and costly hotels such as the Venetian and the M Resort in Las Vegas, and the W (for a total of $19,443) in Washington. A midwinter trip to Hawaii cost the RNC $43,828, not including airfare.I really need that kind of expense account!
* ADDENDUM (30 March 2010): Additional reporting by the Washington Post the day after the story broke clarifies that Steele neither attended nor approved of the stripclub outing. Not surprisingly, Politico.com reports that the RNC has fired the staffer who approved the expense reimbursement request:
[RNC Chief of Staff Ken] McKay wrote that the fired staffer, who is not named in the email, “was aware that this activity was not eligible for reimbursement and had been previously counseled on this very subject. Accordingly, that staff person has been terminated.”So, does that mean this staffer previously approved other faux-lesbian bondage stripper club reimbursement requests? Inquiring minds want to know!
Politico.com also reported reactions from outraged Republican leaders. My favorite quote was from former Ohio Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell:
“This incident does not help the RNC leadership dispel the charge that they are nothing but duplicitous high rollers and big spenders ..."Gee, ya think? But don't forget your image as the party of family value hypocrites! (Notable entry in this list is former Illinois Senate candidate Jack Ryan who dropped out of the 2004 Senate race amid reports relating to his prediliction for taking his then-wife to sex clubs and asking her to have public sex. This cleared the path to election for an up-and-coming Democrat—Barack Obama.)