Republican National Committee political director Gentry Collins resigned from his post Tuesday morning with a stinging indictment of Chairman Michael Steele’s two-year tenure at the committee.
In a four-page letter to Steele and the RNC’s executive committee obtained by POLITICO, Collins lays out inside details, previously only whispered, about the disorganization that plagues the party. He asserts that the RNC’s financial shortcomings limited GOP gains this year and reveals that the committee is deeply in debt entering the 2012 presidential election cycle.
“In the previous two non-presidential cycles, the RNC carried over $4.8 million and $3.1 million respectively in cash reserve balances into the presidential cycles,” Collins writes, underlining his words for emphasis. “In stark contrast, we enter the 2012 presidential cycle with 100% of the RNC’s $15 million in lines of credit tapped out, and unpaid bills likely to add millions to that debt.”
The short version of the RNC’s 2010 troubles as described by Collins: The committee couldn’t afford to run an independent expenditure ad campaign on behalf of their candidates, didn’t fund a paid voter turnout operation for Senate and gubernatorial races, left its vaunted 72-Hour turnout program effectively unfunded, offered only a fraction of the direct-to-candidate financial contributions they made four years ago and dramatically scaled back its support of state parties.
Steele has not indicated whether he will seek another term at the helm of the committee and an array of Republicans are already maneuvering to ensure that he does not win re-election in the event he runs. The depth of the party’s problems his political director reveals is likely to make it considerably more difficult for the embattled chairman if he does pursue a second term.
That’s in part because Collins is not one of the committee’s persistent Steele critics but a respected operative and senior staffer inside the RNC building who was given authority over the $15 million line of credit the party took out this fall. In addition to the normal duties of his job, Collins spent much of the summer and fall quietly travelling the country and meeting with major donors in an effort to boost the party’s lackluster fundraising. It was a highly unusual task for a political director and, coupled with his primary job responsibilities, effectively made the Iowa native the operational head of the party.
The letter is even more damaging because the aide doesn’t just lay out a bill of particulars about the troubled committee but specifically rebuts the pushback deployed by Steele to defend his tenure.