Illinois GOP Chair throws Michael Steele under the bus

By DOUG IBENDAHL • November 19, 2010
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Remind me never to share a foxhole with Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady.


Brady declared on Tuesday that he was withdrawing his support from his close ally, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele. Brady’s abandonment of Steele comes in the wake of a harshly critical resignation letter from the RNC’s political director, Gentry Collins.


Collins’ five-page letter was a scathing synopsis detailing the RNC’s fundraising problems, operational weaknesses, and precarious financial condition.


Collins’ appraisal is no doubt quite accurate. Pat Brady now tries to pretend that he’s SHOCKED! . . . SHOCKED! . . . that things are amiss at the RNC, particularly from a financial point of view. He now thinks Steele should not get another term when the RNC’s 168 members meet in January to choose the next Chairman.


But here’s a big problem – Pat Brady is one of only six members of the RNC’s Budget Committee!


Let me repeat that. Pat Brady is a member of the BUDGET Committee – one of only 6 persons on that committee. In other words, if the RNC has financial problems – Pat Brady is just as responsible as Michael Steele, if not more so.


And not only is Brady on the Budget Committee – he’s the CHAIRMAN of the RNC’s Ethics Committee!


Brady was one of the first and biggest supporters of Steele for RNC Chairman. After Steele narrowly won his bid for the RNC Chairmanship in January 2009, Brady was rewarded for his support with two important committee positions at the RNC.


I was originally a fan of Michael Steele also. But by spring of this year it became clear Steele had to go due to his recurring missteps, scandals (including $2,000 of donor money spent by staffers at a bondage-themed topless nightclub), and his inexplicable resistance to constructive change. By April of this year, calls for Steele’s resignation were becoming widespread from Republicans across the country.


In fact on April 8th of this year we urged Republicans not to donate their hard earned money to the RNC, and to give directly to the good candidates of their choice instead.


Meanwhile, Pat Brady was saying everything was fine. “The problems that have surfaced in recent weeks don’t seem to be making a dent in fundraising efforts with six months to go before the November election,” is how Brady was quoted in April. “I think this will eventually go away. I’m not concerned at all,” Brady added.


When it looked like Steele was in real danger of being forced aside early this year, Brady and a couple of others led the effort to get other State Party Chairmen around the country to stick with Steele.


And in September, when Steele was again being criticized by many Republicans over questionable managerial judgment, Brady again rushed to prop up Steele. “If Illinois is my barometer, then he’s been tremendously successful,” Brady told The Washington Post.


In fact as recently as last month Pat Brady was campaigning side-by-side with Steele in Illinois and singing his praises.


I want to be clear here – I definitely don’t think Michael Steele deserves another term. I thought he should have stepped aside in April, so of course I think someone else should be found for this next two-year term that begins in January.


But I also don’t think it’s fair that Steele should be the first to go. Steele has certainly had his problems that should preclude him from another term. But let’s compare results post-election. The Republican Party did wonderfully in most states. The anti-Obama/Pelosi/Reid wave swept an historic number of Republican candidates into office nationwide.


And then there was Illinois. The GOP tsunami was reduced to a ripple when it got to our state. Sure, Republicans had some pick-ups here, but everyone knows the Illinois GOP fell far short of expectations.


Bottom line, the RNC – led by Michael Steele – can boast about impressive national success. Meanwhile the Illinois Republican Party – led by Pat Brady – was the worst state performer in the Midwest by far, if not the entire country.


It’s disgusting that Pat Brady is throwing his friend under the bus, when Brady doesn’t have the decency to resign himself as State GOP Chairman (and removing himself as State Chairman would also automatically remove him as an RNC member).


Brady used Steele. Remember how Steele was brought to Illinois last year to help Mark Kirk in the Primary? Pat Brady of course was in the Mark Kirk camp from day one. So we saw a State Party Chairman and the RNC Chairman both backing Kirk – even though party chairmen are supposed to remain neutral in primaries.


But the pro-partial-birth abortion, anti-gun, pro-cap-and-trade, pro-gay agenda, pro-dishonesty Mark Kirk knew he needed an extra boost to get through a GOP Primary. Brady and Steele gladly obliged.


That special attention to Kirk continued of course through this month’s election. Conservatives allowed themselves to be played for chumps – their guy Bill Brady lost – but Mark Kirk, the Democrat in disguise, won.


With the election over and Mark Kirk set up comfortably for six years in the U.S. Senate, Brady is done with his old friend Michael Steele. He’s used-up in the same way gullible conservatives who sold their souls to Kirk are now used-up.


Pat Brady should have the decency to resign as State GOP Chairman before Steele gets thrown under the bus. But Brady has displayed no such class in the past so I don’t expect him to start now.


Absent some miracle where Illinois Republicans find their spines and force Pat Brady aside, my guess is the Illinois GOP will just limp along until the next embarrassing disaster in 2012.


Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.



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