From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
First Read has verified some of the charges the Republican National Committee approved in its March Monthly report, including almost $2,000 spent at a sex-themed nightclub in West Hollywood, as well as more than $15,000 spent at ritzy Beverly Hills hotels.
First Read also found more than $1,500 in "equipment rental" charges from "Casino Parties" in Tampa, FL.
The Web site Club Planet describes the sex-themed club, Voyeur West Hollywood, this way:
"In Los Angeles, it takes a lot to shock and awe. When you walk into Voyeur on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, you might not be completely shocked at the almost naked women writhing on each other but you will undoubtedly be in awe. Voyeur is an intimate space, provocative and sexy, sophisticated and interesting. Inspired by Eyes Wide Shut and London lounge, Annabelle's of London, Voyeur transports you to a world of risqué sexuality and eroticism. In fact, even if you tried to escape looking at the naked women all around you, you would ultimately fail. But then again, why would you even try?
"Of course the guests are sexy, but the walls are also lined with black and white pictures of beautiful naked girls from decades past while temptresses wearing nothing more than pasties and a black thong "stretch" on tables or in large glass boxes. Yes, the women don't strip or show off their outdone go-go girl dance moves. Instead, they hold onto ropes on the walls and literally stretch, like yoga class but much sexier (and probably more naked).
"And in case you are thinking "oh boy, ANOTHER club with glass boxes filled with naked dancing girls", pull yourself together and tell yourself you are actually looking at history because the glass casements in Voyeur are actually windows from the old New York Times building in Manhattan, from the 1920's. Voyeur is less classy and classic and more classic-slutty, but we are in Los Angeles so that vibe works just fine.
"Voyeur feels intimate and rich, with metal chandeliers precariously hanging above you, black leather drapery and reupholstered antique chairs that are synched like tight corsets. Voyeur also serves hors d'oeuvres from Chef Micah Wexler (formerly of Craft) and many cocktails that are sugar-free and all organic. Cocktails like blueberry mint and shots like cucumber olive are winners, while their watermelon jalapeno cocktail should be avoided like clothing… unless you would like an up close and personal tour of Voyeur's bathroom."
The Web site for Casino Parties, Inc., describes itself this way:
"Now let's meet Lady Luck. with a spin of the wheel, a cut of the cards and a roll of the dice, ride the adrenaline rush of non-stop casino games. Casino Parties, Inc. brings the thrills and glamour of the Las Vegas Strip right to your door. We provide all the action of a big-time casino, including your favorite games like Blackjack, Craps and Roulette. It's all in fun with no actual gambling involved. Whatever your theme, from Black Tie to Western, our 20,000 sq. ft. warehouse will deliver the action. From intimate settings in private homes to a lavish ballroom extravaganza, you can leave the details to us."
RNC spokesman Doug Heye responded in a statement about the revelation of some of the charges by the Web site The Daily Caller:
"We are investigating the expenditure in question. The story willfully and erroneously suggests that the expenditure in question was one belonging to the Chairman. This was a reimbursement made to an individual not on committee staff. The Chairman was never at the location in question, he had no knowledge of the expenditure, nor does he find the use of committee funds at such a location at all acceptable. Good reporting would make that distinction crystal clear. The committee has requested that the monies be returned to the committee and that the story be corrected so that it is accurate."
Regarding the story itself, it is riddled with misleading information and inaccuracies.
1. Steele's spokesman, Doug Heye, did not deny that such discussions took place, responding that the RNC never had a "plan" to buy a plane. "I don't know what somebody might have discussed or might not have discussed." – This was during our off the record conversation Friday, yet the reporter included it on the record.
2. Steele's office repeatedly refused to explain in specific terms the circumstances of the February charter flights. – This is factually inaccurate. I personally told the reporter on Friday about the specific flights.
3. Steele himself declined numerous interview requests. This is factually inaccurate. Steele himself never declined anything; I did.
4. The piece repeated talks about "Steele's expenses," when quite often they are finance/fundraising expenses and not just for the expenditure in question. Though I made a clear distinction with Jonathan, his story fails to do so.
Here are the specific charges verified by First Read:
- $6596.66: AMERICAN EXPRESS
- $6596.66: FOUR SEASONS BEVERLY WILSHIRE, BEVERLY HILLS, CA 90212
- $9099.18: AMERICAN EXPRESS
- $9099.18: BEVERLY HILLS HOTEL, 9641 SUNSET BLVD, BEVERLY HILLS, CA 90210
- $1946.25: VOYEUR WEST HOLLYWOOD, 7969 SANTA MONICA BLVD, WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA
CASINO PARTIES, INC, 8710 W. HILLSBOROUGH AVE, SUITE 312, TAMPA, FL 33615, "EQUIPMENT RENTAL":