RNC tells members the party is not in debt

Holly Bailey

Republican National Committee officials, pushing back against RNC Treasurer Randy Pullen's claim that Chairman Michael Steele and his staff conspired to hide more than $7 million in debt, are telling party members in a memo that the committee's bills are fully paid as of this week.

Michael Toner and Tom Josefiak, two former Federal Election Commission officials retained by the RNC, write in a memo obtained by The Upshot that the party "has not any time carried $7 million in debt." Rather, they say, there was a delay in reporting expenses because the RNC is now more vigorously vetting bills before deciding if they should be paid. It's a procedure that was put into place after a scandal this spring when the RNC reimbursed a staffer for a donor event at a bondage-themed club in Los Angeles.

Toner and Josefiak say the $7 million that Pullen cited has been paid. In addition, the party has paid off more than $2 million in debt it listed on its latest FEC report. That June 30 filing reported the RNC had roughly $10.9 million in cash on hand, but that was before the party paid the $2 million in bills. Still, the party is on nearly equal footing with the Democratic National Committee, which reported almost $11 million cash on hand and $3.9 million in debt.

Pullen claimed that Steele and his staff were holding back on debts in order to make fundraising numbers look better ahead of the November midterms. But Toner and Josefiak insist the RNC is "committed to accurate FEC reporting, transparency, and fiscal discipline with its donors' money."

Interestingly, the memo makes no mention of Pullen, the RNC official who first made accusation, describing instead "hyperbolic claims in the media reports." Still, there is a slight dig at Pullen, who has clashed with Steele in the past. "It is unfortunate that misinformation concerning internal RNC procedures has been somehow disseminated to the media, as the spreading of these inaccuracies operates to the grave detriment of the RNC," Toner and Josefiak write.

Pullen, who is chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, did not respond to requests for comment.