(This is crossposted to http://dumpsteele.com/Blog.html)
I have now obtained a copy of the official RNC Employee Handbook, and the results do not look good for Michael Steele, who is a full-time employee according to RNC Rule 5.a.1 and is therefore required the follow the Handbook. The following is from pages 14 and 15 of the Handbook (emphasis mine):
7.6 Ethical Standards
Employees of the RNC must adhere to the highest ethical standards to ensure that the integrity of the RNC is not compromised. Conduct that interferes with operations, promotes self-dealing, brings discredit to the RNC, or is offensive to the RNC members or fellow employees will not be tolerated, and is cause for appropriate disciplinary action.
7.7 Conflict of interest Policy
Employees shall not engage in any activities that conflict with the interests of the RNC or the Republican Party. Employees may not obtain any improper personal benefit by virtue of their employment with the RNC, whether the conduct is adverse to the RNC or not. Employees should avoid even the appearance of impropriety, and if any questions arise as to whether certain conduct is appropriate, the RNC Chief of Staff and Chief Counsel should be consulted.
The RNC’s full-time employees are required to devote their full working hours to RNC matters during their hours of employment at the RNC. Outside business activities which would either conflict with RNC interests, or call for substantial time away from RNC duties, are not permitted. Requests to pursue any outside business activities or continue pre-RNC employment business connections must be submitted to the Chief Counsel for review.
I see four clear violations of the Handbook in Steele’s actions:
- Steele certainly obtained an “improper benefit by virtue of … employment with the RNC,”
- He absolutely failed to “avoid even the appearance of impropriety,”
- He engaged in “outside business activities which would … call for substantial time away from RNC duties,” and
- According to published accounts, the RNC Chief Counsel was in no way consulted by Steele about the publication of his book.
It’s now clear that Michael Steele cannot claim that he did not know that what he was doing with the outside speeches and book were wrong. In his office — probably on a bookcase or inside his desk, gathering dust — was his own copy of the Handbook, a guide for how he was supposed to act as an RNC employee.
The truly galling thing about Steele’s actions is that he has continued to defend them. If he had apologized and stopped the book tour, he would likely have been forgiven, but he put his greed above the good of the party. Unless the GOP wishes to remain a laughingstock, it must remove him now, and I am now confident that they will do so.