New Republican chair says he's ready to clean house

02/02/11 Kate Bradshaw
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The 2012 Republican National Convention is about eighteen months away, but questionable spending has already put the party under fire. The new Republican National Committee chair was in town today, and he stressed his new staff would be more careful with RNC money.

New RNC chair Reince Priebus said he met with the convention’s host committee and is confident they’ll help make the event a success.

He stressed that the host committee is an entirely separate entity from the RNC committee on arrangements, which he replaced within two days of taking office.

That group came under fire for already having spent more than $600,000, despite the convention being a year and a half away. That includes rental of a 3,200 square foot waterfront home in Treasure Island. The committee spent that money under the leadership of former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele, whom Priebus defeated in a recent election. Within days of taking office, Priebus fired the paid employees Steele had dispatched to Tampa to make arrangements for the convention. Priebus said the previous team lacked experience, and the RNC needs to restore public trust. Today he said he appointed Georgia businessman Alec Poitevent to chair RNC’s committee on arrangements.

Host committee co-chair Al Austin said he was happy with the new committee on arrangements.

Priebus said a team of lawyers is reviewing all the RNC’s convention-related expenditures to date, but didn’t say whether anything has raised a red flag.

The RNC is among entities that use public funding to finance campaigns and conventions. Last week the House of Representatives voted to cut off that funding, though the Senate isn’t expected to agree. Priebus said he supports the legislation.

Priebus said if the voluntary taxpayer dollars were cut off, he thinks the RNC could raise funds for the pricey convention on its own.

Ken Jones, a co-chair with the host committee, said the committee will live with whatever Congress decides to do.

Priebus said while public funding might disappear, one thing that’s likely to stick around for the 2012 RNC is the issue that’s currently at the core of American politics.

And while Florida may be gearing up for the 2012 Republican Convention, when it comes to having an earlier primary, the Sunshine State needs to hold its horses.

States insisting on scheduling their presidential primaries earlier than those in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada risk losing their delegates at the National Convention. Priebus said he hopes the Florida state legislature will keep protocol in mind.

Priebus said he has talked with Governor Rick Scott about the matter, but did not give any details about the conversation. The 2012 Republican National Convention will take place in Tampa during the week of August 27, 2012. This will be the first national political convention to come to Florida since 1972.

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