Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (Fla.) this week became the first Congressional Republican to call for Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele’s resignation.
According to a GOP source, Brown-Waite informed Steele in letter this week that she wants him gone.
Brown-Waite’s letter comes as Steele and his allies try to reassure party members that he is capable of leading the RNC. Steele has come under fire after embarrassing stories surfaced about the financial management of the committee.
Brown-Waite was one of several Republican lawmakers who worked to oust former Florida GOP Chairman Jim Greer from office in January after questions arose about his spending practices while running the state party.
Brown-Waite’s office declined to comment Friday on her letter or on Steele’s leadership of the RNC. A spokeswoman for the committee also declined to comment.
Last week, the Daily Caller reported that an RNC staffer had been reimbursed for spending nearly $2,000 at a bondage-themed nightclub in West Hollywood to entertain committee donors. Top RNC aide Ken McKay has since resigned, and media consultant Curt Anderson has cut his ties to the committee.
Some RNC members, most notably, North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Tom Fetzer, have publicly said that the party’s problems won’t be fixed until Steele steps aside. Others who have called for Steele’s resignation include Ada Fisher, a RNC member from North Carolina who previously has asked him to vacate the post, and former Steele consultant Alex Castellanos.
Other GOP leaders have been critical of Steele’s leadership but haven’t gone so far as to call for his resignation. According to the New Hampshire Union Leader, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) said Thursday that Steele has become a “distraction” for GOP candidates, but Romney did not go so far as to ask him to step down.
There’s an effort under way within the RNC to round up support for Steele. As of Friday, more than 30 of the 50 state party leaders had signed a letter expressing support for his leadership.
“As Republican Party state chairmen, we believe Chairman Michael Steele can lead the RNC to be a full partner with us this fall in our efforts to fire Nancy Pelosi and win Republican majorities in Congress and among governors,” the letter states. “His record at winning elections has been stellar, his fundraising ability has been solid, and he has honed our Victory programs’ ability to identify and deliver voters for Republican candidates.”
Some of the state GOP leaders are meeting this weekend at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans.
It remains to be seen whether Brown-Waite’s decision will prompt other Members or state party leaders follow suit.
One GOP leadership aide said Friday that while there is palpable frustration on Capitol Hill about Steele’s management of the RNC, it would be a surprise if a majority of Members line up with Brown-Waite.
“If he gets past this weekend down in New Orleans and baring any other major developments, I don’t get the sense there will be a groundswell to have him step down,” the aide said. “Those who have done so have been the exception to the rule, and frankly, I think it plays into the Democrats’ hands” to continue to call for Steele to step down.