Federal campaign disclosure documents revealed today show that the Republican National Committee had included an expense for $2,000 for “meals” at the Voyeur West Hollywood Club in Los Angeles last month. The club’s theme, as described by the Los Angeles Times, leans toward “Eyes Wide Shut” with a touch of “impromptu bondage and S&M.” In response to the public relations crisis, a RNC spokesman says that the activity is being investigated.
In solving a PR crisis, one of the most important steps is taking direct and concrete steps to remedy the problem. Actions speak louder than words, and the RNC is no exception to this immutable axiom.
For the RNC to give its “investigation” theme clarity and substance, it must actually act like it is conducting an audit of some sort, and no matter how you look at it, someone’s gotta pay the price. There’s no better way for the RNC to put this episode behind the Republican party than to fire Chairman Michael Steele.
• Steele’s sheer incompetence and disastrous leadership have been extensively documented. Each time the man speaks, he manages to step in it even more and more. The longer he stays at the helm, the harder it will be for anyone to take any claims of an “investigation” seriously.
• The RNC must act fast. If not, the Republican brand will sustain heavy damage coming off the brutal health care debates. That brand (or at least what it claims to promote) is totally at odds with what the club expense stands for: fast and loose spending; sexually-themed parties; gay rights; Hollywood free-wheeling and vice-ridden behavior.
• The $ signs all over this give the story a simple narrative to follow. Therefore, the more the RNC tries to lap tap dance around the expense report, or somehow shift the blame to Democrats, the worse it will get.
Real leadership is often about tough choices. The kingmakers at the RNC must appreciate this principle and act quickly before this scandal gets worse.