RNC Says Member Will Return $2,000 Reimbursed for Visit to Bondage Club

Published March 29, 2010

| FoxNews.com

The Republican National Committee say it's getting back nearly $2,000 that it reimbursed to a member for a night out at a bondage-themed night club in West Hollywood

Doug Heye, a spokesman for the RNC, on Monday would not say who the donor was, but announced the committee got a commitment that the cash would be returned.

"The RNC has not only requested that that money that was sent out as a reimbursement be repaid by the member but we've got the commitment that will be done," Heye told Fox News.

Earlier in the day, Heye issued a statement after the Daily Caller reported that the organization reimbursed a member $1,946 for a February trip to Voyeur, a risque nightclub recently featured in The Los Angeles Times as the new hotspot. 

"I don't know the person specifically. I know there are a lot of (Federal Election Commission) reports that people are going through trying to determine that. I just know from a conversation I had with a colleague that we got a commitment that that money will be returned," he said. 

"We're still trying to determine who was there," Heye said. 

An RNC source told Fox News the donor's name is Erik Brown but Heye would not confirm that. Brown, a direct mail operator based in California, tweeted in October that he was watching a Redskins game with RNC Chairman Michael Steele at FedEx Field.

Heye said he was incensed by the suggestion in a post in the Daily Caller that Steele took part in the February outing to the club. The article led with Steele's expenses on charter aircraft and the suggestion by an unnamed source that he was looking for the RNC to buy an airplane to accommodate his travel. 

"Michael Steele was not there. He didn't know about it. He wouldn't have known about it," Heye said. 

The report noted that the RNC spent $17,514 on private aircraft and $12,691 on limousines in the month of February, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Recent travel expenses also included $9,099 spent at the Beverly Hills Hotel, $6,596 dropped at the Four Seasons in Los Angeles and nearly $20,000 combined for the Venetian and the M Resort in Las Vegas and the W in Washington. 

Heye said the article was misleading because it did not distinguish Steele's expenses from finance and fundraising expenses associated with the purpose of the travel. He added that the story "willfully and erroneously suggests" that Steele was at the club. 

"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," Heye said in his statement.

After the rebuke, Jonathan Strong, the reporter who wrote the Daily Caller article, told MSNBC that he never said Steele was at Voyeur, but "I hope to find out whether that's the case in the coming days."

Daily Caller founder Tucker Carlson also offered a statement. "To be clear: We did not claim that Michael Steele personally visited Voyeur West Hollywood. In fact, and unfortunately, we still know almost nothing about that trip, including its purpose. If the RNC provides details, we’ll put them on the site immediately."

An article in the Los Angeles Times, written after the club's opening in October, said the club's owners drew their inspiration from Stanley Kubrick's film "Eyes Wide Shut." The film stars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman as a New York power couple whose marriage is jeopardized after the husband gets involved in a bondage club.

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http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/03/29/rnc-asks-member-return-reimbursed-bondage-club-visit/