RNC’s Steele hires pricey ‘convention liaison,’ irking GOP

November 19, 2010

By Ralph Z. Hallow, The Washington Times

SAN DIEGO | Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele hired his former personal assistant to manage the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., for $15,000 a month plus a $25,000 signing bonus, The Washington Times has learned.

The contract, signed by Mr. Steele on the RNC’s Committee on Arrangements (COA) letterhead, calls for Belinda Cook to serve “as RNC liaison to the convention.”

The Tampa press has been identifying Mrs. Cook as “convention manager” – a position invariably filled in the past by Republicans of considerable federal-level experience in negotiating many contracts each worth millions of dollars.

Former RNC convention managers say they know of no such previous title as “liaison to the convention” and questioned the need for such a position in the second half of 2010.

They also say the contract with Tampa to be the host city was made six months earlier than with host cities in the past, thus causing an already cash-strapped RNC to spend more money sooner than in the past on the national nominating convention.

“Strikes me that this liaison mission is premature and overcompensated,” said former RNC general counsel David Norcross, who in 2004 also served as chairman of the COA, the RNC panel that oversees the quadrennial presidential nominating convention.

“I know of no prior ‘liaison’ position, nor do I know what such a person would do,” said Mr. Norcross, who is in San Diego for the annual Republican Governors Association meeting.

“There is no need for a full-time person starting more than two years out from the beginning of the convention,” Mr. Norcross told The Times.

To read more, visit: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/nov/18/convention-liaison-irks-gop/

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