The voting members of the Republican National Committee are spending the final week before electing a chairman on Friday debating each candidate’s fundraising prowess, a recognition that the next national party chairman will have to spend most of his or her time dialing for dollars and rebuilding a cash-poor committee.
And the conversation is turning nasty. Each candidate’s supporters are delving into rivals’ fundraising performance in hopes of dredging up material that would raise doubts in voters’ minds.
At the moment, front-running contender Reince Priebus is taking the most heat, spurred by an analysis of his track record by conservative blogger Dan Riehl. Last Friday, Riehl chastised Priebus for touting having raised $14 million in personal contributions during his tenure as chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party — something Priebus supporter Henry Barbour has claimed in an email. Nine million dollars of that money, Riehl found, came from direct transfers from the RNC itself.
In an email to fellow RNC members, Alaska Republican Party chairman Randy Ruedrich highlighted the report and criticized Priebus both for failing to grow a small-dollar donor base and for offering misleading characterizations of his fundraising performances.
“I am not claiming that Wisconsin Party fundraising is particularly poor, it is likely similar in scope to other states of that size,” wrote Ruedrich, who is supporting former RNC co-chairman Ann Wagner. “Rather, I am suggesting that the claims of $14 million are designed to distort the real record for the purpose [of] overstating Mr. Priebus’ fundraising abilities. At this crucial time, we need a chairman who delivers what they say and who doesn’t feel the need to embellish their real records.”