Republican National Committee's political director resigns, blasts Steele

By Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, November 16, 2010; 10:43 PM

The Republican National Committee's political director, Gentry Collins, resigned Tuesday, issuing a scathing letter that alleged mismanagement by the committee's chairman, Michael S. Steele.

Collins focused in particular on the RNC's fundraising operation and Steele's purported inability to attract major Republican donors.

"During the 2010 cycle, the RNC allowed its major donor base to wither," he wrote.

Collins, a former executive director of the Iowa Republican Party and a senior official in former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential campaign, is considering a bid for the RNC chairmanship, according to three sources familiar with his thinking.

If he runs, he could be pitted against Steele, who is weighing whether to seek a second term. Most Republican observers expect that the chairman will run again, and he tested his viability in a phone call with his staunchest allies this week.

Collins announced his departure in a four-page letter to committee members that listed mistakes by Steele.

"If left on its current path, the RNC will not be a productive force in the 2012 campaign to deny President Obama a second term, retain our House majority and elect a Senate majority," Collins wrote.

He said the committee had raised $170 million in the 2010 election cycle, compared with $284 million in the 2002 cycle and $243 million for the 2006 midterms. However, Republicans controlled the White House in 2002 and 2006 - a major fundraising assist that they did not have this time.

The RNC noted that difference in a statement rebutting Collins.

"For the first time in 16 years, the Republican Party held neither the White House or either chamber of Congress," the committee said in a statement. "Despite lacking that fundraising advantage, the RNC was able to raise more than $175 million, over $24 million more than the RNC raised during the entire 1994 cycle and over $36 million more than the DNC raised during the entire 2006 cycle, indexed for inflation."

Collins also critiqued the committee's spending, saying, "Too much of the nearly 30-cents-on-the-dollar not spent on fundraising was spent on things other than winning elections." The RNC spent heavily to win governors' races in New Jersey and Virginia in 2009 but found itself with very little cash in the weeks before this year's election.

Previous reports have detailed the RNC's spending on things such as redecorating Steele's office, expenses at a sex-themed nightclub, luxury accommodations and a retreat in Hawaii.

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