New Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus has fired several employees of a division working to set up the party's 2012 convention after committee members complained about an unprecedented rush of early spending.
In an email to committee members obtained by National Journal, Priebus said he had asked for and accepted the resignation of Belinda Cook, the top RNC liaison organizing the convention in Tampa. Priebus also said he would ask for and accept resignations of the rest of the employees of the Committee on Arrangements, the body that oversees convention plans.
"This is just the first step toward organizing a convention that all of us and our 2012 Republican Presidential nominee can be proud of," Priebus said in an email to committee members.
"There are some changes that need to be made to ensure a successful convention. Those changes start today," he said in a statement. "I have discontinued the employment of the convention liaison and the employees of the Committee on Arrangements, effective immediately."
Cook and the Committee on Arrangements staff were hired by former RNC chairman Michael Steele, who cast early spending on the 2012 convention as a prudent use of financial resources. But RNC members complained about big spending; already, the convention has sucked up about $600,000 of RNC resources, according to internal estimates, and the convention owes the RNC more than $160,000, according to a treasurer's report delivered to RNC members at a committee meeting last week.
The RNC had spent thousands of dollars on travel, hotels, staff salaries and even a waterfront home in the Tampa area in which Cook lived. Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee has yet to even finalize the location for their 2012 convention.
Priebus had promised to fire Cook, one of Steele's longest-serving and most loyal allies, and her staff as one of his first acts.