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Sarah Palin, Tony Perkins Back Away from RNC After Topless Nightclub Incident

Updated at 12:20 p.m. ET.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins are the latest prominent conservatives to distance themselves from the Republican National Committee in the wake of revelations the group spent nearly $2,000 at a topless, bondage-themed nightclub.

"This latest incident is another indication to me that the RNC is completely tone-deaf to the values and concerns of a large number of people from whom they seek financial support," Perkins wrote in his most recent "Washington Update" newsletter. "I've hinted at this before, but now I am saying it--don't give money to the RNC. If you want to put money into the political process, and I encourage you to do so, give directly to candidates who you know reflect your values."

Perkins, a major figure among Christian conservatives, also chastised the RNC for hiring prominent lawyer Ted Olson to represent the committee in a campaign finance case. Perkins is critical of the decision because Olson is one of the lawyers fighting to overturn Proposition 8 in California (the ballot initiative that banned gay marriage).

Meanwhile, Palin has asked the RNC to stop advertising that she will attend a RNC fundraiser at the upcoming Southern Republican Leadership Conference, according to Politico. An invitation for the event lists Palin, as well as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, as "invited speakers."

Palin "will not take part in any RNC fundraiser in New Orleans" during the SRLC, an aide told Politico, though it is unclear whether her decision is tied to the nightclub incident.

The RNC's spending gaffe has prompted other high-profile conservatives to speak out against the group, including prominent GOP donor Mark DeMoss who said on's "Washington Unplugged" yesterday that the RNC "squandered... a moral authority" by spending money inappropriately.

When the news first broke of the expenditure at the topless nightclub, Penny Nance, president of the conservative public policy group Concerned Women for America, released a statement saying, "This kind of behavior is not appropriate for national leaders that our children should be able to look up to as role models, and that our daughters could be working for."

Some analysts say that the incident, coupled with other recent RNC missteps, could hurt the RNC's fundraising.

"It's seen as a reflection of an organization that's not being run well," Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC and a former Republican political operative, told Hotsheet.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, the RNC will soon have to compete for donations with a new group called American Crossroads, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The group aims to raise $52 million from wealthy Republicans and corporations for an independent campaign to help GOP candidates this November. The organization is spearheaded by former RNC Chairman Mike Duncan and former RNC co-chair Joanne Davidson, while former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie and former White House adviser Karl Rove are serving as informal advisers.

Correction: This story was updated to note that Haley Barbour is the current governor of Mississippi, not the former governor.
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