GOP Donor: RNC Topless Club Charges "Squandered a Moral Authority"

The Republican National Committee forfeited a large portion of its political capital when it reimbursed a GOP donor's nearly $2,000 tab for an outing at a topless, bondage-themed nightclub, Mark DeMoss, a former major RNC donor, said Wednesday on Washington Unplugged.

"This is such a disappointment in that we've squandered, I think, a moral authority to be talking about Democratic spending of taxpayer money," DeMoss said.

The RNC immediately fired the staffer who was responsible for the reimbursement, and said RNC Chairman Michael Steele knew nothing of the event until it was reported on this week. Still, the party committee is suffering from the bad press from the incident, which follows a string of other controversial incidents from the RNC.

What is more troubling than the specific expenditure at the nightclub, DeMoss said, is the RNC's pattern of exorbitant spending.

"Spending in general on limousines and private jets and five-star hotel suites is even worse, in this economy, at a time when families and businesses across the country have cut back," he said. "It's disturbing. Everybody has had to cut back to meet the financial realities, economic realities, except apparently the RNC."

Federal disclosure records show that in the month of February alone, the RNC spent $12,691 on limousines and $17,514 on private aircraft, the Daily Caller first reported. Steele had already been under fire for spending decisions such as choosing to hold a Republican winter retreat in Hawaii in spite of the poor economic conditions.

The RNC has responded to the latest reports by distributing a list of Democratic National Committee expenditures, such as paying one catering company at least $297,708 over the past 15 months and spending at least $13,316 at the Washington, D.C. Lucky Strike bowling alley in January of 2009. Yet while both parties may spend lavishly, only the RNC spent more than it raised last month, the Hill reports.

Meanwhile, the RNC has committed other gaffes such as creating a fundraising presentation that used crude caricatures to depict Democrats.

"I thought that was an embarrassing and immature presentation at a time when we ought to be presenting ideas for the country," DeMoss said.

While neither the fundraising presentation nor the trip to the bondage-themed club were Michael Steele's doing, DeMoss said he is holding Steele accountable for the incidents because "ultimately everything rises and falls on leadership."

Still, DeMoss said, Steele has good qualities as a chairman and could still turn things around.

"I still think Chairman Steele could right the ship," he said. "I don't think it'd be very difficult."

One step the RNC is taking in the wake of the recent news is putting on hold parts of its Young Eagles program, according to Politico. The group of donors who went to the topless bar were part of the young donors program.

Watch the interview above, plus a debate between the Patriot Majority's Craig Varoga and the Tea Party Patriots' Debbie Dooley on the differences between their two organizations.

"Washington Unplugged" appears live on CBSNews.com each weekday at 12:30 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.

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