FEC fines Michael Steele $54,000 over his 2006 Senate bid

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steeles failed 2006 campaign for Senate has been fined $54,000 for taking too much money from Steeles sister, the Federal Elections Committee announced.

In addition to Steeles civil penalty, his sister Monica Turner has agreed to pay her own civil penalty of $5,500 for excessive in-kind and cash contributions to the campaign. The FEC faulted Steele for accepting some of those prohibited contributions knowingly and willfully and also found that Steeles former treasurer, Belinda Cook, used funds improperly.

The complaint alleges Turner held two 2006 fundraisers at her Bethesda, Md., home for her brother, bringing in more than $100,000 in donations. Turner spent more than $35,000 to cover some of the fundraisers’ costs and in other contributions to the campaign, but that money wasn’t disclosed in Steeles FEC filings. The complaint also maintains that federal and state campaign funds were intermingled in a way that violated FEC regulations.

The $54,000 the campaign must pay the FEC adds to the $51,493 in other debt the defunct campaign still owes, according to FEC data. The campaign had just $42 cash on hand as of the end of June.

Steele, who previously served as Marylands lieutenant governor, lost his 2006 Senate bid to then-Rep. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), but in 2009 won the chairmanship of the RNC, where his tenure was marked by a series of embarrassing gaffes and the rapid accumulation of debt.

Reince Priebus took over as RNC chairman in January. Steele is now a commentator and political analyst for MSNBC.


Fundraiser nets $1.5 million for vulnerable Republicans

A fundraiser for the National Republican Congressional Committee pulled in $1.5 million Thursday for vulnerable incumbents in the committee's Patriot Program, the NRCC confirmed.

The program to shore up Republicans facing tough reelection battles made its debut during the 2010 election, where the GOP took control of the House.

So far this cycle, 10 members have been added to the list: Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.), Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-Ill.), Rep. Jon Runyan (R-N.J), Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) and Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.). Eight of them are freshmen.

Republicans can lose 24 seats in 2012 and still maintain control of the House.


Texan anti-Perry Super-PAC files with FEC

A new Super-PAC that will direct its efforts against Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) presidential bid filed a statement of organization Monday with the Federal Election Commission.

Texans for America’s Future Treasurer Jeff Rotkoff says he started the committee to allow Democratic donors from Texas to make an impact on the national stage.

“There are a number of Texans who are looking to participate in the 2012 presidential election cycle,” said Rotkoff. “So we created a vehicle for them to do so.”


Rock band looks to cash in on

The rock band that has owned the domain name since the early 1990s is looking to cash in.

The band named itself Tea Party in 1990, riffing off a euphemism for "getting high and writing poetry and vibing with each other," the band's bassist told Business Week. Although the band is mostly defunct, the website bearing the name of the popular political movement is anything but.

Domain registrar predicted the name could sell for more than $1 million, but the owners may have to act fast, in case the Tea Party movement loses steam and the name becomes less valuable.

Deep-pocketed political groups that back the Tea Party might not be the only ones interested — with the domain name driving major traffic, a clever marketing department for an actual tea company could find the name a big boost, pointed out Stephen Bannon, a former banker who has directed movies about the Tea Party.