Salaries of Steele's RNC Associates Raise Eyebrows

RNC meets at National Harbor

By Matthew Stabley
|  Wednesday, May 20, 2009  |  Updated 1:14 AM PDT
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Salaries of Steele's RNC Associates Raise Eyebrows

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RNC Chairman Michael S. Steele addresses the committee Tuesday and Wednesday to deal with multiple concerns over his leadership since his January election. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON -- Some of the Republican National Committee chair's personnel decision are raising eyebrows,

When he took the job, RNC Chairman, Michael Steele brought along his longtime personal assistant -- and her son -- and paid her almost triple what her predecessor made, the Washington Times reported. Steele also hired Angela Sailor, a family friend, to serve as outreach director at a salary of $180,000 -- more than double her predecessor's salary.

Belinda Cook earned $7,100 in take-home pay in March, according to the Times, which would amount to more than $85,000 over the course of a year. Her son, Lee Cook, earned about $3,250 working for the RNC, which would be about $39,000 a year.

In defense of Sailor's salary, the RNC said the position has been upgraded. Apparently it's been upgraded so much it's more valuable than the second-highest ranking elected official on the committee, co-Chairman Jan Larimer, who makes about $140,000, according to the Times.

FamousDC put together a list of other jobs that make less than Sailor, including members of Congress (who are only supposed to be doing what the RNC -- or their DNC -- tells them to do), pilots (who only pilot planes carrying a couple hundred people several thousands of feet up in the air, not the fate of the entire GOP) and financial managers (other than those getting fat bonuses from the federal bailout).

For FamousDC's complete list, click here.

At Tuesday's RNC meeting at the National Harbor, Steele compared President Barack Obama's popularity to that of a celebrity and said Republicans can't be afraid of criticizing him head-on if they want to regain their relevance.

"He's young. He's cool. He's hip ... he's got all the qualities America likes in a celebrity, so of course he's going to be popular," Steele told state party chairmen Tuesday. But "this is not American Idol. This is serious ... and we are going to take them on."

The GOP has owned up to the mistakes that caused its fall from power and is embarking on a new chapter, Steele said.

Steele is seeking to re-establish himself as the head of the beleaguered party and set its course. His speech comes after a rocky start to his two-year term that drew criticism from some longtime RNC members.

Steele, who drew a loud standing ovation from party leaders Tuesday, is trying to steer a GOP that's out of power in the White House, Congress and a slew of statehouses across the country. The party also has no natural successor to former President George W. Bush. And the GOP is in the midst of an intense debate over its identity while facing an emboldened Democratic Party that's grown larger under Obama's leadership -- at the Republicans' expense.

Still, the GOP chairman played down the obstacles and claimed the GOP's comeback is well under way in the states, though people in Washington don't recognize that fact.

"Republicans may be the minority party at the moment, but we represent the ideas and concerns of the majority of Americans," Steele said. "Candidate Obama was very moderate in his views, but President Obama could not possibly be further to the far left."

Steele said the GOP will take on Obama with class and dignity, unlike the "shabby and classless way" Democrats took on Bush.
 

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