More Republicans pile on the man of Steele

By Perry Bacon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 4, 2010; 3:14 PM

Two top GOP congressional leaders sidestepped questions about their confidence in Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele on Sunday, adding to a number of Republicans who have expressed concerns about Steele's leadership since news emerged last week that an RNC aide authorized spending almost $2,000 at a bondage-themed club in West Hollywood as part of an effort to woo young donors.

Asked on "Fox News Sunday" if Steele should step down, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz), the No. 2 Republican in the party's leadership in the Senate, said "well, I'm not in the position of the people who elect Michael Steele to either say he should step down or not."

But he added, "this kind of thing has got to stop or they won't get any contributions. The people that contribute to the committees, both Democrat and Republican, want to know that their money is well spent for the cause, and it needs to be that way."

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), a top Republican leader in the House who is helping craft the party's platform for the fall's elections, said "you've got to bring the trust back, and that may mean shaking some other roles inside the RNC as well."

Asked if he had "full confidence" in Steele, McCarthy refused to say so, instead noting "the RNC does have some challenges that they need to correct."

"The victories we've had from New Jersey to Virginia, they've been engaged in," he said on "Fox News Sunday." "They've outraised the Democrats seven of the last 12 months. But if we are going to show that -- the American public that we believe in accountability and bringing it back to Washington, we have to make sure that the RNC has the accountability just the same."

Neither man called for Steele to resign, and no prominent party leader has yet done so. Republican strategists privately say the GOP would like to avoid a divisive internal battle over the chairmanship at a time when the party hopes to make major gains in this fall's elections by keeping the focus on President Obama and congressional Democrats.

But Kyl and McCarthy joined a number of Republicans, including former White House adviser Karl Rove and ex-Senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.), who have criticized the RNC over the last several days. Steele aides have said the chairman did not know of the expenses at Voyeur, and the aide who approved the expense was fired last week.

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