Some members of the Republican National Committee who chose not to support Michael Steele for chairman are encouraging reporters to monitor the RNC’s FEC and expense filings after the second quarter. “You’ve got some Republi cans who just don’t like Steele’s style, and you have people who supported others in the race, mostly from Southern states, pushing the antiSteele message,” says an RNC member who did not back Steele on the first two ballots but then did flip to support him.
Steele took some criticism early on for failing to hire a professional staff and for maintaining a high number of consultant contracts, one of the main complaints from grassroots about the previous leadership of Mike Duncan. In fact, it appears that Steele has actually expanded the use of consulting contracts.
But Steele has also shown his fundraising prowess, at least initially outraising the DNC, and surpassing internal RNC expectations for fundraising in the first quarter.
Louisiana attorney general Buddy Caldwell, a Democrat, is already attempting to position himself to challenge Gov. Bobby Jindal. Caldwell maneuvered behind the scenes to implement a monthly 15cent tax on Bayou State citizens’ Internet connections to raise about $2.5 million in new tax revenue to cover investigations of Internet crime. This despite the fact that Caldwell already has money in his budget for such investigations, which often include child pornography.
Jindal had said he would veto the bill if it included new or increased taxes.
But Caldwell, according to some state Republicans, was less concerned about the pedophiles and more concerned about putting Jindal in the politically unpopular position of vetoing a spending bill that would have expanded Internetcrime prosecution.
“You’re seeing Democrats doing what they can to build a case against Jindal,” says state GOP official. “Bobby is doing everything right, focusing on the state, not spending too much time elsewhere even though he could, but guys like Buddy want to dirty him up a bit for the next goround.”
Linda and Larry
In a little-noticed move in early June, the Federal Reserve hired Linda Robertson, the former head of Enron’s Washington government affairs office at the time the company collapsed under an accounting fraud scandal. Robertson ran the office from 2000 through 2002, when it was closed.
Previously she served as a senior adviser in the Clinton administration’s Treasury Depart ment. Now, she will advise Fed chairman Ben Bernanke and the board on the best ways to work and deal with Congress. According to Treasury Department sources, however, Robertson is also expected to be a conduit for her old friend and mentor, Larry Summers, who currently serves as the key economic adviser to President Barack Obama.
“She and Summers are tight,” says a Treasury source, “and Robertson is also very tight with some very influential journalists here in town, so she’s the total package for the Obama team’s needs on the economic front.”
According to reporters who have covered Treasury, Robertson is a close friend of Bloomberg’s Washington bureau chief Al Hunt, who at the time of Robertson’s stint in Treasury was bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal.
Robertson’s hire sidesteps the Obama administration’s ban on hiring lobbyists, because the Fed is an independent agency. But that doesn’t mean that the White House isn’t trying to influence hiring in areas it wants to control.