Pawlenty stands with beleaguered Steele

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) reiterated Friday that he supports Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele in the wake of a donor scandal at the party.

Pawlenty, who is expected to seek the GOP nomination for president in 2012, said that Steele has "taken responsibility" for the party's decision to reimburse donors who held an event at a bondage-themed nightclub in Los Angeles.

"It's a terrible incident, a stupid thing. There's people involved with really bad judgment and they did not have the controls in place to catch it and to flag it. So he has to take responsibility for that," he said on NBC's "Today" show. "They've done that, they have fired the employee. So I hope that they have learned from this. It's something that should not have happened on Michael's watch. But he's taken responsibility for it, hopefully they can improve and continue on. And I believe they will."

Asked if Steele still enjoys his support, Pawlenty said "Yeah, he does."

Pawlenty's decision to back Steele is unsurprising for someone in his political position, but stands in contrast with other Republicans.

Some lawmakers have not explicitly called for Steele's resignation, but have harshly criticized him for allowing the incident to happen under his watch. Some GOPers have expressed frustration with Steele because of his penchant to make verbal gaffes and what they perceive as the party's overspending.

Other conservatives and Republicans have called for Steele's resignation and some have said they will cease donations to the RNC.

The party has said the reimbursements should not have been made and has fired the employee who authorized it.

Cross-posted to the Briefing Room.