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Priebus appoints new 2012 convention chair to “clean up”

Posted Feb 2, 2011 by William March

Updated Feb 2, 2011 at 01:39 PM

In his first visit to Tampa as Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus today announced he’s appointed a new chairman for the party’s 2012 national convention in Tampa, Georgia businessman and GOP activist Alec Poitevint, as part of an effort to “clean up” convention planning.

Priebus also said he hopes Florida will change its presidential primary date, which under current law would be held so early in 2012 it would violate party rules. Some Republicans are concerned that a conflict over the primary date between the state and the national party could occur at the same time that Florida is hosting the convention.

And he said he’s not concerned about the possibility that the convention planners could lose some $17 million or more in public funding if Congress votes to abolish the public campaign financing program for presidential campaigns. That program also subsidizes both parties’ conventions.

The GOP-led House has voted to abolish it, and Priebus said he supports GOP leaders in that move. The Democratic-led Senate isn’t considered likely to follow suit, but Priebus said if it happens, “As far as how we make up for that, we just have to roll up our sleeves and make it happen, and that’s what we’ll do.”

Poitevint is a banker and head of a Georgia company that manufactures components for livestock feed. Like Priebus, he was a member of the party’s site selection committee that chose Tampa for the convention. Priebus said new paid staff members to work in Tampa on convention arrangements haven’t yet been hired.

Priebus quickly fired all the paid convention staff shortly after he was elected Republican National Commttee chairman two weeks ago. He unseated the often-controversial former Chairman Michael Steele.

Priebus acknowledged there had been dissatisfaction within the national party over the spending of the former staff hired by Steele—news reports had cited allegations of nepotism in hiring the committee staff and excessive spending.

“Obviously there were some concerns with what had been going on in Tampa,” he said. “Our members of the RNC were very concerned about the spending that had gone on by certain members of the staff … Our committee had had enough with some of the questionable expenditures.”

Priebus said the housecleaning was necessary “to clean up our end of the bargain … to insure that you have a good partner” in putting on the convention.