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Posted at 5:42 PM ET, 01/31/2011

RNC is $23 million in debt

By Aaron Blake

The Republican National Committee has about $23 million in debt as it prepares for the 2012 election cycle, new Chairman Reince Priebus announced Monday.

The committee's year-end financial report will show $21 million in debt through Dec. 31, Priebus said, but a more up-to-date total is closer to $23 million. That's about $8 million higher than previously reported.

"While the year-end FEC report reveals the Republican National Committee is $21 million in debt, I believe it is best to get out all the facts as we know them associated with our financial position," Priebus said in a statement. "To date, the committee has approximately $23 million in debt: $15 million in loans, and $8 million owed to vendors."

The RNC is likely to enter 2011 with more debt than any other national party committee, but the seriousness of the situation is only coming into focus now.

The post-election debt total is much more than previously estimated. In a financial report filed a few weeks after the 2010 election, the RNC listed just $15 million in debt. The new report covers the period between Nov. 23 and Dec. 31 and shows the amount of known debt grew by more than $6 million over that span and by $2 million more since then.

While the debt hasn't technically grown in recent weeks, the new team at the RNC has learned that the extent of the debt is actually higher than previously estimated.

The RNC under then-Chairman Michael Steele endured plenty of criticism for its stewardship of its donors' money. The committee steadily spent down its funds throughout 2009 and 2010 and wound up with little cash on hand as Election Day approached.

That situation led RNC members to unseat Steele as chairman this month, replacing him with former Wisconsin GOP Chairman Priebus.

Priebus said the committee has been spending far too much money on its fundraising because it has been unable to attract big-dollar donors.

"We have our work cut out for us, but I am confident we will succeed in turning around the RNC through hard work, transparency and honesty with our hardworking grassroots activists and donors," Priebus said.

The other national party committees must report their year-end fundraising totals by midnight.

By Aaron Blake  | January 31, 2011; 5:42 PM ET
Categories:  Republican Party  
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