New Steele Setback: RNC Doc On Web Redesign Draws Ridicule, Suspicion

March 9, 2009 11:00 a.m.

Michael Steele has already said that he’s going to implement communications strategies at the RNC that are “off the hook” and “beyond cutting edge.” But is he now taking things to a whole new level?

Check out this RNC Request-for-Proposal that’s been circulating on the internet, soliciting bids for redesigning the group’s website.

It begins with a general (very general) statement of principles:

Chairman Steele made his tech priorities clear at the [RNC Tech Summit]: “…bottom line is if we haven’t done it – let’s do it. If we haven’t thought of it – think about it. If it hasn’t been tried – why not? If it’s going to be ‘outside the box’ – then not only keep it outside the box, but take it to someplace the box hasn’t even reached yet.”

And it doesn’t get a whole lot more specific after that. In fact, the two-page document is so light on the kind of details you might expect an RFP of this sort to have, that it’s already being slammed on conservative blogs.

Dale Franks at The Next Right — who says he responds to web development RFP’s for a living — calls the document “a masterpiece of confusion and idiocy” that was put together by “clueless losers”. He continues:

I assume it was written by someone who has heard of this new thing called “com-poo-tors”, and who doesn’t actually have one, but has been told that they’ll be very big in the future.

In fact, one prominent conservative thinks the document is so sketchy that it could suggest that the open bidding process is just for show, and that the RNC has already picked out a favored contractor.

Erick Erickson, the founder of Red State, writes:

Friends, either the RNC has no freakin’ clue what the hell it is doing or else all the rumors about certain consultants having an inside track at RNC contracts is true.

Why? Because there is no way any competent person would put together an RFP like this. It’s crap. It is not legitimate. It is unprofessional. It is illusory.

Either they don’t know what they are doing, or they’ve already picked their consultant and are going through the motions. If it is the former, well, the RNC is screwed. If it is the latter, Michael Steele’s claims about bidding out work was B.S.

And I suspect it is all B.S.

These are hardly the first allegations of contract-related BS directed at Steele. The FBI has been investigating payments made by his 2006 Senate campaign to a catering company run by his sister, which were listed as being for media work, and … web design.

And a Baltimore TV station recently reported that that same Steele campaign paid $64,000 to a commodities trading firm, run by a Steele fundraiser, for work that was described as “political consulting.”

We’ve been looking to get a better sense of how this RFP measures up to the kind of document that a potential contractor would need in order to submit an effective bid on a project like this. (Readers with experience bidding on these kinds of contracts, we’d love to hear from you, too.)

We’re also hearing more about what Erickson means when he refers to rumors about “certain consultants having an inside track at RNC contracts”…

We’ve also asked the RNC about all this (no response so far, shockingly), and will keep you posted on what we find out…

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