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GOP watch: 'Grand ol' partying'

"During a February RNC trip to Los Angeles, a $1,946.25 tab was racked up at Voyeur, a West Hollywood nightclub that features topless dancers and has been a hangout for Lindsay Lohan and other celebs," the New York Post writes. "A red-faced spokesman for the RNC said the group was reclaiming the cash from a donor who wrongly got reimbursed, and said the expenses were improper in the first place. He said RNC Chairman Michael Steele didn't go to the nightclub… Voyeur features a net suspended from the ceiling where topless women perform, and a glass booth with even racier performances, according to reviews."  
The Washington Post: "The RNC spent more than $17,000 on private jet travel in February as well as nearly $13,000 for limousines and car services, and also ran up tabs at luxe hotels including the Beverly Hills Hotel ($9,000); the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons ($6,600) and the W Hotel in Washington ($15,000). The GOP's controversial midwinter meeting in Hawaii ended up costing the party $43,000 in expenses, not including airfare, the records show. Steele has come under steady fire for his financial stewardship of the organization. The RNC had more than $22 million on hand when Steele arrived last year, but is down to under $10 million now despite raising $96 million during that time, records show."  
The RNC "fired an unidentified staff member as a result of the disbursement and emphasized Monday that Steele had not visited the club and was not aware of the expenditure. The reimbursement went to Erik Brown, a Southern California GOP donor who has spent time with Steele in the past and whose marketing firm has earned more than $160,000 from the RNC and other Republican committees, according to campaign disclosure records."  
The New York Times profiles the club: "High-end strip clubs here -- where patrons shell out hundreds in "bottle fees" to sip vodka and Champagne and watch women conduct all manner of business -- are a far cry from their hole-in-the-wall-with-a-stripper-pole counterparts in small cities. The clubs are often used by high rollers, couples and celebrities as hang-out spots to see, be seen and, well, see a lot more. And in Los Angeles, strip clubs are often at the crossroads of acting, modeling and a job that pays the bills… 'The dancers are beautiful, and the S-and-M show was fantastic,' a reviewer from Washington wrote on Yelp.com. 'Wish we had places like this back in D.C.!'"  
The New York Daily News' lead: "Talk about grand ol' partying."  
The Hill: "Monday's news fit into a long-running storyline about heavy spending. The committee suffers from a high burn rate.  It spent about $15 million more than it raised under Steele last year, and in February it continued to lose money. Steele has drawn heat for spending $18,500 to redecorate his personal office, and for increasing spending on chartered flights and limousines. It was also rereported Monday that Steele was looking into buying a private jet."  
Mitt Romney was in Iowa yesterday, where he defended his role as it relates to health care in Massachusetts. "Mitt Romney offered an enthusiastic defense last night of the comprehensive health care law he helped create four years ago in Massachusetts, even as he pointed to crucial distinctions between it and a similar national program enacted last week by Democrats," the Boston Globe says. Romney said, "Overall, ours is a model that works. We solved our problem at the state level. Like it or not, it was a state solution. Why is it that President Obama is stepping in and saying 'one size fits all'?" 

Politico's Martin examines whether Romney should go "all in" to win Iowa, if he decides to run for president in 2012. "In an interview, former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who is now running to reclaim his old job and enjoys a wide lead in early polling against incumbent Democratic Gov. Chet Culver, suggested that Romney wouldn't be punished were he to not go all-in here again. 'I think he should play in Iowa, but he maybe overplayed in the last go-round,' said Branstad, who will play an influential role in the 2012 presidential caucus should he win in November."

"He added: 'I don't think you want to run against Iowa, [but] I'm not saying you've got to make Iowa the be all to end all.'" 

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will conduct a town hall via Facebook on Wednesday. As a Pawlenty source emails First Read: "It's going to work like a regular campaign-style town hall, except he'll stand in front of web cam instead of group of constituents. Instead, the constituents will be in front of computers all over the country, and can ask questions via instant messaging technology. The questions will not be edited; the Governor will try to answer as many as possible.