April 9, 2010 in Nation/World

State GOP chairman asks Steele to resign

RNC expenditures get more scrutiny
Gary D. Robertson Associated Press
File Associated Press photo

GOP National Committee Chairman Michael Steele speaks in February.
(Full-size photo)

RALEIGH, N.C. – The head of the North Carolina Republican Party asked Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele to step down Thursday, saying the resignation is the only way to end scrutiny of the national party over lavish spending.

A day earlier, national party leaders had a conference call with Steele but didn’t bring up the prospect of his resignation – seen as a positive sign for the embattled national chairman.

North Carolina’s Tom Fetzer is the first state party chairman to call for Steele’s resignation. Fetzer said the move would ensure Republicans maximize gains during the midterm elections.

“I believe that the best service you can render to your party at this critical juncture is to graciously step aside and allow the party to move on from this current quagmire,” Fetzer wrote in a letter to Steele.

Steele, who has been a lightning rod for criticism since taking the job last year, has come under renewed scrutiny recently after the committee paid a nearly $2,000 bill at a sex-themed nightclub in Los Angeles. The RNC fired a staffer it blamed for the outing.

Instances of questionable RNC purchases continued to surface on Thursday. RNC spokeswoman Katie Wright said a $1,000 purchase from jeweler Tiffany & Co. was used to buy gifts for major donors. The purchase was listed as “office supplies,” but Wright said that’s the catchall category that the RNC and other political organizations often use for such gifts.

The RNC had also paid $18,361 over the past several months to the Tiny Jewel Box, a Washington, D.C., jewelry store, for “office supplies,” which may have included trinkets or gifts for big donors.

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