A battle over control of the party's purse strings has erupted at the troubled Republican National Committee, with defenders of Chairman Michael S. Steele accusing dissident RNC members of trying to "embarrass and neuter" the party's new leader.
Randy Pullen, the RNC's elected treasurer, former RNC General Counsel David Norcross and three other former top RNC officers have presented Mr. Steele with a resolution, calling for a new set of checks and balances on the chairman's power to dole out money.
The powers include new controls on awarding contracts and spending money on outside legal and other services.
Mr. Steele could not be reached, and a spokesman for the RNC chairman declined to comment on the move.
The resolution prompted a top Steele supporter to issue a scathing attack against Mr. Pullen and his allies after they had asked Mr. Steele to support the "good governance" resolution at a special meeting of the full national committee set for next month. The party spent about $300 million in last year's elections.
"I urge you to reject this hostile attempt to embarrass and neuter the chairman of the RNC," Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus wrote in an e-mail to the 168-member national committee.
Mr. Pullen and his allies need signatures from RNC members from 16 states to force the resolution to the floor for a vote by the full party committee at the May 20 special meeting.
"This resolution is an attempt to usurp the chairman's authority in a completely unprecedented and historic manner," Mr. Priebus wrote to the other party chairmen and national committee members from the 50 states and five U.S. territories.
Mr. Priebus, who heads the transition team for the newly elected chairman, also urged the resolution's sponsors "to stop playing political games and begin thinking about what they can do to help our party move forward as we face the elections of 2009 and 2010."
Now I don't agree with Michael Steele on pretty much anything, however what they are trying to do to him here is just wrong. Why after all these years are they trying to rules now when Steele is Chairman? And they wonder why people believe the GOP is racist.