Strip Club Scandal Prompts Religious Right Leader to Urge Donors to Stop Giving to RNC

The controversy surrounding the Republican National Committee's reimbursement of a donor who took supporters to a Hollywood strip club could cost the party more than just bad PR.

Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council and an influential leader among religious conservatives, is urging donors to stop giving money to the Republican National Committee. Instead, he's urging them to give "directly to candidates who you know reflect your values."

The RNC leadership has condemned the strip club visit and requested that its $2000 reimbursement be returned. But Perkins, in a statement on his group's Web site, described the incident as the last straw. He already had voiced complaints that the RNC had hired a prominent lawyer -- former Solicitor General Theodore Olson -- who is fighting against the California amendment banning same-sex marriage.

"This latest incident is another indication to me that the RNC is completely tone-deaf to the values and concerns of a large number of people from whom they seek financial support," Perkins wrote. "I've hinted at this before, but now I am saying it -- don't give money to the RNC."

A representative for the Republican National Committee could not be reached for a response.

The RNC has fired the staff member responsible for getting the $2,000 tab at a bondage-themed California nightclub reimbursed to the donor who paid for it.

The bill for the visit to Voyeur West Hollywood appeared on a Federal Election Commission report, but the Republican National Committee says the money is being returned to the party.

RNC Chief of Staff Ken McKay wrote in a letter Tuesday that "a group of individuals" attended the club after a "Young Eagles" donor event in Los Angeles, but that it "was not an RNC sanctioned event and was not associated in any way with any RNC official event."

RNC spokesman Doug Heye has repeatedly said that Chairman Michael Steele was not at the event and did not condone using party money to pay for it.