RNC Move Seen as Bid To Rein In Chairman

By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 30, 2009

A group of Republican National Committee members is circulating a resolution that would limit how much Chairman Michael S. Steele could spend without authorization from other party leaders, a move some Steele backers say is an attempt to limit the authority of the sometimes controversial chairman.

The resolution would require that any RNC spending that exceeds $100,000 be approved by the executive committee or the treasurer, who is elected independently from Steele. The 168 members of the RNC are scheduled to meet next month, and the measure could come up then, although GOP sources said it may not come to a vote because it has little support.

Advocates of the resolution, first reported by the Washington Times, said that the party committee has put similar measures in place before to monitor spending and that it was not an attempt to constrain the authority of Steele, who as head of the RNC leads an organization that will spend tens of millions over the next two years.

A spokesman for Steele would not comment, but some of his advisers said privately that the move represented a power grab by RNC members still bitter that he won the chairman's race this year.

"It would restrict his ability to manage the organization," said Jim Greer, head of the Republican Party in Florida and a Steele ally.

David Norcross, an RNC member from New Jersey who helped write the resolution, said that he was "not trying to get into a fight about anything" and that this was not an anti-Steele resolution but rather a bid to ensure that the treasurer could keep track of the group's finances.

"If I were the chairman, I would want this in place," Norcross said.

Norcross acknowledged that he had backed another candidate but said he was not looking to replace Steele or strip him of his authority. The party's first black chairman drew strong criticism in his first weeks in the post, but that has subsided in recent weeks. The RNC outraised the Democratic National Committee over the first three months of the year.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company