So about that RNC Request-For-Proposal for a contract to redesign the committee's website...
As we told you earlier, the document's hilarious vagueness and notably short time frame, flagged by the site Tech President, among others, haven't just provoked ridicule at the apparent incompetence of Michael Steele's RNC. They've also spurred one leading conservative blogger, Red State's Erick Erickson, to angrily suggest that Steele's team has already decided to give the contract to a favored firm, and sent out the RFP merely for the sake of optics.
That got us to poking around. And there's at least one web development firm that fits the bill as being close to Steele.
That would be iWeb Strategies, a political web design company with a long list of conservative and GOP clients. In fact, one of those clients, according to the firm's website, was Steele himself, whose own now-defunct site, promoting his recent run for RNC chair, was designed by iWeb.
iWeb is run by Blaise Hazelwood, an experienced GOP consultant, who, while at the RNC, played a key role in building the vaunted Voter Vault database that helped produce the impressive GOP turnout in 2004 that carried President Bush to victory. Hazelwood also runs a voter-targeting firm called Grassroots Strategies.
During his run for RNC chair, Steele responded to a questionnaire sent out by a GOP committeman. Asked which political consultants were assisting him, he named Hazelwood, as well as Curt Anderson, who runs a consulting firm called On Message.
Anderson also has close ties to Hazelwood. According to reports, he was her boss while both were at the RNC. And iWeb also touts its design work for On Message.
It seems clear that Anderson, at least, is still helping to call the shots at the RNC. In a piece published by Politico today, Anderson defended Steele's controversial tenure at the committee, identifying himself in a bio line as a "top adviser to Chairman Steele" who "has been Steele's personal friend for 15 years."
And last week, Politico reported, amid resignations by several RNC staffers:
For now, "the fourth floor," as the RNC's executive suite is known, is being run by a pair of consultants.
So: could those two consultants be Hazelwood and Anderson? And was that embarrassing RFP a reflection of the new chairman's pre-existing desire to give the web consulting contract to Hazelwood's iWeb?
Neither the RNC nor Hazelwood responded immediately to TPMmuckraker's requests for comment.