RNC Loses Established Fundraiser, Gains One With Checkered History

RNC Chairman Michael Steele
Michael Steele

Updated 6:09 p.m. Eastern Time

Former Ambassador Sam Fox has resigned from his senior, unpaid position at the Republican National Committee, Politico's Ben Smith reports, depriving the embattled organization of "one of its top fundraisers -- and its few remaining connections to the traditional GOP donor base."

An unnamed GOP fundraiser told Smith that Fox had lost faith in RNC Chairman Michael Steele (pictured) and was "deeply troubled by the pattern of self-inflicted wounds and missteps" by the organization. The RNC was embarrassed last week amid word that it had paid nearly $2,000 for a night out at a bondage-themed nightclub.

The RNC has also done some hiring: The organization has brought on Neil S. Alpert to help out with its fundraising. If that name rings a bell, it might be because, as Politics Daily first reported, Alpert "in July 2007 was ordered by the D.C. government to repay nearly $70,000 in unauthorized expenses and unaccounted funds from a pair of local baseball groups he had chaired."

The 31-year-old was fined $4,000 for improperly spending the money, which was used in part "to defray his personal expenses," according to a report from the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance.

Meanwhile, a group called American Crossroads has sprung up with the goal of raising $50 million from many of the same donors who would otherwise be giving to the RNC. The group, which includes Karl Rove and two former RNC chairmen, would operate like a shadow RNC; if it gains traction it could undermine the RNC's fundraising efforts, and with them the group's central role in the controlling the direction of the Republican party.

On "Fox News Sunday" yesterday, Sen. John Kyl did not exactly come out swinging on behalf of the party chairman, stating that he is "not in the position of the people who elect Michael Steele to either say he should step down or not."

Kyl also offered what could be seen as a warning to RNC leadership. "This kind of thing has got to stop or they won't get any contributions," he said.

Update: RNC Spokesman Doug Heye confirmed to CBS News late Monday that RNC Chief of Staff Ken McKay has resigned. He will be replaced by his deputy, Mike Leavitt. Heye told Politico the move was "about ensuring that we have the tight financial controls in place and to ensure that every nickel we spend is done with the goal of winning in November."