The GOP's Trip to Tiffany's
Michael Steele's Republican National Committee has expensive taste in office supplies. Samuel P. Jacobs uncovers the embattled group's latest lavish purchase: $1044.65 at the jeweler.
Many companies turn to Staples or Office Depot for their office needs. Michael Steele’s Republican National Committee gets a little more creative when it comes to keeping the paper clips plentiful. Last year, the Republican National Committee dropped $1044.65 at legendary silver-maker and jeweler Tiffany and Co., for two undisclosed purchases reported to the Federal Election Commission as “office supplies.”
The two purchases, on Dec. 3 and Dec. 22 of last year, were charged to the company in Parsippany, New Jersey, where its manufacturing center is located.
“In this age of frugality, one would expect office supplies to come from Staples, not Tiffany’s,” Sloan said. “I don’t think anybody at the RNC needs Tiffany’s pens.”
Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said that she thought the purchases were likely “some kind of gifts for donors.” “In this age of frugality, one would expect office supplies to come from Staples, not Tiffany’s,” Sloan said. “I don’t think anybody at the RNC needs Tiffany’s pens.”
The FEC filing for the Democratic National Committee from the period shows no similar purchases marked as “office supplies.”
Two calls to the RNC’s press office Thursday went unreturned.
The Tiffany purchases are just the latest in a series of expenditures to attract unwanted attention to Steele’s RNC. On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that the GOP had spent $982 at a Vermont winery in December and marked the expenditure down as office-related in party filings with the FEC. In other filings, the RNC described runs to Congressional Liquors as being for office needs.
And The Daily Caller, a new conservative website, set off a firestorm last week when it reported that the party committee spent nearly $2,000 at a West Hollywood bondage-themed nightclub. Since then, the RNC has fired a staffer and Steele’s chief of staff has resigned. While the vast majority of state party chairmen and GOP officeholders are standing by him—for now, anyway—there has been a rising tide of anonymous quotations from Republican strategists calling for Steele’s resignation. On Tuesday, an RNC member from New Hampshire resigned, unhappy with the way the party committee has dealt with donors’ gifts. And GOP consultant Alex Castellanos publicly called for Steele’s head.
Since Steele took office 14 months ago, the RNC has outraised the DNC. But the GOP still spent more than it brought in.
If the party was in fact shopping for pens, ten Elsa Peretti ballpoints could be had for $1000. Another lovely gift: Tiffany’s elephant-shaped piggy bank, made of earthen ware, for $95—which would make a perfect place to store the party’s nickels and dimes.
Samuel P. Jacobs is a staff reporter at The Daily Beast. He has also written for The Boston Globe, The New York Observer, and The New Republic Online.