First in a Series: RNC 'Autopsy' Looks Like an Inside Job

First in a Series: RNC 'Autopsy' Looks Like an Inside Job

On Monday, Republican National Committee Chairman Priebus announced that a five person team of insiders  will chair the committee responsible for his much promised “autopsy” of the failed 2012 Republican campaign. Priebus had promised that the “autopsy” would be conducted by outsiders, but a look at the backgrounds of the team members confirms what conservative and grassroots critics have suspected would be the case: it’s an inside job.

Politico reported the details:

The Republican National Committee is rolling out a plan to review what worked and what didn’t for the party in the 2012 cycle, appointing five people at the top of a committee that will make recommendations on things like demographics, messaging and fundraising.

The Growth and Opportunity Project is going to be chaired by RNC committee member Henry Barbour, longtime Jeb Bush adviser and political operative Sally Bradshaw, former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer, Puerto Rico RNC committee member Zori Fonalledas, and South Carolina RNC member Glenn McCall. Priebus, who is running for a second term, is holding a call with committee members to roll out the plan this afternoon.

The plan will not address two critical areas on which Breitbart has reported recently: (1) the apparent conflicts of interest involving personal and business connections between officials at the RNC and the Romney campaign and a handful of key vendors who were paid well over $150 million during the recent campaign and (2) the failure of the Republican online media efforts.

Instead, according to Monday’s RNC press release, the plan will be limited to these eight areas: (1) campaign mechanics and the ground game (2) fundraising (3) demographics (4) messaging (5) third party outside groups (6) campaign finance (7) the national primary process and (8) lessons learned from the Democrats.

Upon completion, the committee “will report their findings to Chairman Priebus and make recommendations for a long-term strategy for the future.”

Though Priebus had promised the autopsy would be conducted by “outsiders,” his definition of what constitutes an “outsider” appears to include those who currently office “outside the physical boundaries” of the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington.

All five chairs are, by any other measure, quintessential Republican establishment insiders. Not one member of the commission is an identifiable conservative, Reaganite or tea party activist.

Henry Barbour is the insider’s insider. He knows his way around the Republican National Committee offices, having worked there from 1992 to 1995. The nephew of former RNC Chairman and former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Henry is well known as one of the most prolific lobbyists and behind the scenes power brokers in Republican politics today. The website of Barber’s firm, Capitol Resources, boasts of his “24 years of leadership roles in Mississippi and the National Republican Party.”

His accomplishments and connections within the Republican establishment are many, according to the web site. Most notably he “helped run RNC Chairman Reince Priebus’ campaign for chairman.”

He also served as his uncle’s campaign manager during his successful race for governor of Mississippi in 2003, managed Chip Pickering’s successful Mississippi congressional campaigns, and served on George H.W. Bush’s campaign staffs in 1988 and 1992.

Ari Fleischer is President George W. Bush’s former press secretary and currently runs a sports communication firm.

Sally Bradshaw is a Florida political operative  who worked on the 1988 George H.W. Bush campaign, served as Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s Chief of Staff, and worked for Romney for President in 2007 and 2008.

Glen McCall is a former Senior Vice President at Bank of America who spent 27 years in banking before becoming a political consultant in 2009. He currently serves as a Republican National Committee member from South Carolina. 

Zori Fonalledas is a Republican National Committee member from Puerto Rico. She was caught up in the Ron Paul seating controversy at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Paul delegates booing the decision to not seat their fellow Ron Paul delegates were portrayed by some in the blogosphere as anti-Hispanic, because Ms. Fonalledas was the RNC official with the gavel at the time.

A senior RNC staffer that Politico reported has been assigned to assist the five chairs is also a well connected political insider.

Sara Armstrong is currently the Deputy Chief of Staff at the RNC, where she reports directly to current Chief of Staff Jeff Larson, the former FLS Connect, LLC partner now in charge of the separate “online media autopsy.” Armstrong is the former Deputy Chief of Staff for First Lady Laura Bush.

None of the five committee chairs have recent experience managing get-out-the-vote operations. Indeed, only Bradshaw and Barbour have any significant ground game experience in that area. But neither of these two have been intensively involved in the management of get-out-the-vote operations in more than a decade.

This lack of contemporary ground game experience is one of many flaws in the selection of these particular insiders to chair the committee. The ground game weakness is of particular significance. The failure of the Republican Party’s get-out-the-vote effort in 2012, and especially the well documented ORCA software program debacle, has been described by many analysts as a critical factor in Romney’s loss. 

This is the first in a series that will examine the RNC Autopsy Committee.