Former Republican National Committee (RNC) chair Michael Steele vented his frustrations toward his successor and former “right hand,” Reince Priebus, in a lengthy radio interview on Tuesday, accusing Priebus of feigning innocence over the group’s budget issues.
“Reince Priebus was my right hand,” Steele told host Larry O’Connor. “What annoys the heck out of me is that for two years, Reince Priebus was in every room I was in, a part of every major decision I made for how much money we would spend, what we would spend that money on, what the priorities of the RNC would be.”
Priebus was the RNC’s general counsel during Steele’s tenure as chairman, when the group took out a $25 million loan.
“For him to stand up there and pretend that he wasn’t in the room, that he had no say in the decision-making process, and that the so-called debt that he inherited was the one that, as a member of the RNC, he voted for, number one. Number two, he recommended to me to go into debt,” Steele said. “And for him to sit there and act like he had nothing to do with it and that somehow he inherited this mess that he helped create, to me is just pure B.S.”
Steele said he had kept quiet over criticism of his tenure for the past two years out of loyalty to the party, but began speaking up because “at the end of the day, you say to yourself, ‘They’re dumping on you, they’re crapping on your legacy, they’re giving you crap for stuff that they didn’t want to do in the first place.”
Steele’s radio salvo was the latest round of insults between the two. On March 19, Steele told radio host Andrea Tantaros he could “clean his clock” and said the RNC already had a “50-state strategy” during his tenure, a dig at one of the goals Priebus announced following his $10 million “autopsy report.”
“Let me get this straight: you spend $10 million dollars to find out that we have a problem?” Steele asked mockingly. “Hello? Don’t get me started.”
Later, O’Connor acknowledged the rivalry in jest, playing the song “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” as the show returned from a commercial break, before asking Steele why he was not re-elected as RNC chairman.
“They decided to control the money, and they couldn’t control the money with me,” Steele said. “I remember I was firing consultants. I was not renewing contracts for people who’d been at that trough for years, and so they start this whole money issue – ‘Oh, he’s spending too much.’ These guys would take a [Federal Elections Commission] report and they would see $10,000 at the Four Seasons hotel, and they would leak out, ‘Oh, Michael Steele just spent $10,000 staying at a Four Seasons.’”
Listen to the entire interview between O’Connor and Steele, posted by WMAL-FM on Tuesday, below.