FLASHBACK: New RNC Fundraiser Allegedly Spent PAC Money On Nightclubs

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April 5, 2010 3:34 p.m.
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The man recently hired by Michael Steele as a Republican National Committee fundraiser was accused in 2005 by a political action committee he chaired of improperly using PAC money on personal nightclub bills, according to a copy of the complaint filed against him.

Bank records obtained by TPMmuckraker show that Neil Alpert, who began working as Steele’s “special assistant for finance” last month, used the debit card of the PAC he chaired at Washington’s Dream Night Club, which is also known as Club LOVE. An online review describes the club’s “four levels of state-of-the-art diversions and urban scenery [attracting] entertainers, pro athletes and DC’s sexiest civvies.”The revelation about Alpert as the RNC has been under fire for another nightclub scandal: the now-notorious use of party funds at a bondage-themed club in West Hollywood, California. In the fallout from that scandal, the RNC’s chief of staff resigned today.

Alpert was previously the chair of the D.C. Baseball PAC, a group created to encourage the return of Major League Baseball to Washington. But as we noted earlier, PAC officials filed a complaint against Alpert with the Washington Office of Campaign Finance in 2005, accusing him of using committee money for unauthorized personal expenses and filing expense reports that contained “numerous inaccuracies and omissions.”

Alpert allegedly used PAC money for unauthorized personal expenses including “cash, C.V.S. drug store, gasoline, various meals, and night club bills,” according to a copy of the complaint obtained by TPMmuckraker from former D.C. Baseball PAC board member Tom Smith.

PAC bank records provided by Smith show debit purchases at the Dream Night Club in Northeast Washington for about $50. They also show about $200 in purchases in June and July 2005 at the historic Old Ebbitt Grill near the White House. Other debits in that period show purchases at Bangkok Joes, Chick-fil-A, and Cheesecake Washington.

“The money slowly disappeared and we had no idea where it was going,” Al Madison, a former official at the PAC, told TPMmuckraker in a phone interview today. “And he was very very circumspect. You never got a straight answer from him.”

The Office of Campaign Finance issued an order on the matter in 2007, finding that Alpert used nearly $6,000 in PAC money on rent and parking. It found that while Alpert denied allegations of impropriety, “he did not provide a single witness or a single document that supported his contention that the expenditures in question were authorized.”

The OCF fined Alpert $4,000 for reporting errors and ordered him to reimburse the PAC for $69,568, about half of which was described as unaccounted for funds. (A OCF official told Politics Daily that Alpert never reimbursed the PAC because of a mediation agreement.)

An OCF audit (.pdf) references Alpert making debit purchases for “meals and entertainment.” The OCF’s order in the case notes over $10,000 in unreported debit card purchases.

Alpert told Politics Daily, which first reported his hiring at the RNC, that “since this was resolved favorably, I think your story will be fine.”

The RNC did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Alpert’s alleged nightclub spending. An RNC spokesman told Politics Daily that Alpert and Steele have “a long, good relationship.”

(This post has been updated with details from the bank records.)

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