Can Republicans afford Ronna McDaniel's tastes?

Has the Republican National Committee been living high on the hog lately?

Though Ronna McDaniel is still the front-runner to hang onto the reins of her leadership of the RNC, despite some competition from Harmeet Dhillon and Mike Lindell, she might be about to get some more criticism for her spending following a report by RedState.

According to Federal Election Committee filings, here’s the toll during McDaniel’s tenure since 2017:

  • $3.1 million on private jet services
  • $1.3 million on limousine/chauffeur services
  • $17.1 million on donor mementos
  • $750,000 on floral arrangements
  • $80,000 in alcohol-related expenditures

Nearly $400,000 has been spent on event tickets and other entertainment activities, including $30,000 for a private box at a Las Vegas Raiders game, $13,000 for Broadway shows, $9,400 at Madison Square Garden and $43,000 at Top Golf locations in Texas, Nevada, Virginia and Maryland.

As Jennifer Van Laar reports, according to a senior staffer, the private-box Raiders game was part of a retreat for senior staff members. RNC funds were also used to fly the senior staffers and their plus-ones first-class to Las Vegas, and for their hotel rooms, food and alcohol.

“Senior staff retreats were also held at the Salamander Resort & Spa in Virginia in 2021 and 2022, according to another staffer,” RedState reported. “A national committee member says that at the 2021 retreat, held from March 19-21, 30 senior staffers and their families attended, and the RNC paid for Katie Walsh and Mike Shields to speak to the group. FEC reporting shows that the RNC paid $260,000 to the resort in 2021 and 2022, classified as travel expenses and venue rental and catering.”

Writes Van Laar: “Under the current leadership, the RNC has spent more than $150,000 on what could be considered non-essential office expenses, including $25,000 on Commonwealth Joe coffee, $7,000 on cupcakes, nearly $7,000 on candles and diffusers, and $75,000 total at Pottery Barn, West Elm, Restoration Hardware, and Crate & Barrel. In addition, the committee’s FEC reports show expenditures totaling $381,000 classified as ‘Furniture Expense’ during the same time frame.

“More than $100,000 was spent at high-end clothing stores such as Rhoback, REI, Nordstrom, Vineyard Vines, Footjoy, Ralph Lauren, Carhartt, and Smathers & Branson. An RNC vendor tells RedState that the Vineyard Vines expense ($12,000) was likely for embroidered jackets RNC staffers recently received.”

“The RNC is quite generous to its donors, spending $17 million on donor mementos – and possibly more – during McDaniel’s tenure,” the report said. “Custom pins by legendary DC jeweler Ann Hand and Christmas ornaments from Chemart (the company that makes the White House Christmas ornaments) are listed as donor memento expenses, but the financials also include $65,000 in office supplies from Ann Hand and $28,000 from Chemart.”

The records also include more than $100,000 in hair/makeup services and dry cleaning expenses, which presumably are for McDaniel’s media appearances and wardrobe. Dry cleaning expenses are categorized mainly as office supplies or travel expenses, while the hair/makeup services are categorized as media preparation.

By contrast, the Democratic National Committee has spent $1.5 million on donor gifts, $35,000 on private jets, and only $1,000 for floral arrangements during the 2021-22 election cycle.

A committee member who spoke to RedState on condition of anonymity said, “We are only provided with top line financial numbers during our meetings, with no specificity, and when I’ve asked the budget chair for more information, he has been unable to provide it.” The member added that there is general frustration about the lack of financial transparency among committee members, but that members who demand more information are labeled as “troublemakers.”

Country music star and RNC donor John Rich, who has been openly critical of the RNC’s expenditures and of McDaniel herself, tells RedState:

“The leadership of the RNC has taken advantage of millions of regular, everyday conservatives by pretending to support what patriots’ support, but in reality, are blowing untold troves of cash on extravagant nonsense, and supporting RINO candidates while ignoring America First contenders. They are nothing more than controlled opposition. The RNC ran ads in 2021 raising money under the phrase ‘Fight for Trump!’ while simultaneously telling Trump and his team to ‘stand down’ from questioning the election results, stating he was ‘ruining the party.'”

Continued Rich, “The RNC has betrayed its supporters, and I for one will never help them raise another red cent until the Judas elements of the organization have been purged.”

Here’s the response from Emma Vaughn, a spokesperson for McDaniel’s reelection:

“A client of Harmeet Dhillon decided to publish a hit piece in the middle of the night without making a serious attempt to engage with the RNC or Chairwoman McDaniel’s team,” she said. “This blog post is as blatantly false as the lies she has been spreading that RNC members are being bribed for their votes. If critics want to misrepresent and push false narratives about the RNC’s spending this past cycle, they should do the math before realizing it only adds up to 0.8% of the total amount the Chairwoman raised.”

Sounds like there are strong feelings about this all around. The election for RNC chair will be held next month in California.

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