C.R.E.A.M.

Here’s the latest from the party of fiscal responsibility:

She was a 25-year-old junior staffer when the Florida Republican Party gave her an American Express card.

Over the next 2 ½ years, nearly $1.3 million in charges wound up on Melanie Phister’s AmEx — $40,000 at a London hotel and nearly $20,000 in plane tickets for indicted former House Speaker Ray Sansom, his wife and kids, for starters. Statements show thousands spent on jewelry, sporting goods and, in one case, $15,000 for what’s listed as a month-long stay at a posh Miami Beach hotel, but which the party says was a forfeited deposit.

The bondage strip club incident is just a drop in the bucket compared to this. And, lest we forget, in 2008 a National Republican Congressional Committee staffer embezzled a million bucks from that organization.






58 replies
  1. 1
    TR says:

    Dollar, dollar bills, y’all.

  2. 2
    SGEW says:

    These people who keep charging the RNC for spending sprees are just liberal moles who infiltrated the organization for Obama, using SorosBucks and an Ayers mind-control ray gun. The same goes for “BondageGate” and Sen. Vitter, who were unfairly entrapped by ACORN’s prostitute robot spies.

    Anyone who says otherwise has bought into the liberal lies, obviously.

  3. 3
    Derelict says:

    Yep–we need the GOP to lecture us all on how we really need to slash entitlements and eliminate the social safety net for irresponsible people.

  4. 4
    theylivebynight says:

    Sorry, I’m not sure what the point of this post is. The Republican party may be chockablock full of venal hypocrites and war pigs but the above examples aren’t indictive of anything. There are plenty of greedy, shallow assholes of any political persuasion. I didn’t like it when wingers tried to paint all Democrats with the William Jefferson brush and I don’t like this either. This says about as much about conservatives as saying that Ed Gein and Jeff Dahmer were from Wisconsin says about that state.

  5. 5

    I like how they try to pin it all on the staffer. Nice.

    @theylivebynight: It just underlines the hypocrisy of the party. Or at least the rank inefficiencies of the party. At the end of the article, it points out the the Florida Democratic Party requires its staffer to pay for whatever themselves and then get reimbursed. That seems like a no-brainer to me. The Republican Party likes to call themselves the party of fiscal responsibility. They are not. It’s the same when one of the holier-than-thou Republicans get caught hiking the Appalachian Trail. If you can’t follow your own dogma, then STFU.

  6. 6
    mistermix says:

    @theylivebynight: Point me to a recent case where Democratic party funds were misused. I just posted three cases where millions of dollars of Republican funds were.

    (Jefferson was a bribery case, btw, not the same thing. Ask Duke Cunningham and Bob Ney to explain that to you if you want to understand the difference.)

  7. 7
    4tehlulz says:

    Melanie Phister

    Are you sure this isn’t related to bondagegate?

  8. 8
    BeefSupreme says:

    @theylivebynight: I think the point is that the party of fiscal responsibility wasn’t balancing their check book.

  9. 9
    theylivebynight says:

    @mistermix:

    I think you’ve just proved my point for me. You pointed out three cases. I pointed out two serial killers who came from Wisconsin. This doesn’t exactly have the reach of the Abramoff case.

    As for The WJ comparison, you seem to have misunderstood me. Of course it’s not the same thing, nor did I suggest it was, but the underlying fallacy (i.e.-hasty generalization) is the same.

  10. 10
    RSA says:

    Point me to a recent case where Democratic party funds were misused.

    This was one nice thing about the article: It checked to see whether there was the possibility Florida Democrats could be in the same boat and noted that the Democrats had rules in place to prevent this sort of thing from happening.

    Also, I don’t see any overgeneralization on mistermix’s part. Here are three recent examples of news. Draw your own conclusions.

  11. 11
    StonyPillow says:

    Her e-mailed response is a weaselword classic — sounds like she’s in it well past her Birkenstocks, and has already lawyered up (at GOP expense, of course — she knows where the bodies are buried).

  12. 12
    David says:

    The RNC has turned into a cash cow for grifters.

    The relaunch of GOP dot com cost $1.5 million but looks like something that comes free with 10 cereal box tops.

  13. 13
    El Cid says:

    Maybe there’s an analogue to the rule that those Republicans shouting loudest about family values and upright sexual mores are revealed to be the ones with several wetsuits in their closet by which those screaming loudest about fiscal responsibility and cutting out useless spending are the ones with strip club tabs on their or their staffers or functionaries’ accounts.

  14. 14
    theylivebynight says:

    @RSA:

    Fair enough. I read the “Here’s the latest from the party of fiscal responsibility” and the linking to two other cases as implication. Perhaps it was not meant to.

  15. 15
    scav says:

    Haggis flavoured chocolate is puzzling. I’m puzzled trying to see where the over-generalization is in mm’s post. I’m puzzled by people not getting that when priests defend their pedophilia by whining about how other people do it . . . it doesn’t actually make it all right. Let alone they’re not understanding how their otherwise constant flaunting of the backwards collars might actually be a factor in how people judge their actions. Must just be my morning to be puzzled.

  16. 16
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @theylivebynight: If MM had been talking about sports and said “Here is the latest from the mighty Detroit Lions” and then described their latest debacle, would you have wanted him to have also explined that the team’s performance has been woeful over the last several years? Would you also have pointed out that other teams also lose games or have players who have personal problems off the field?

    (My apologies to any Lions fans if I ruined your Sunday morning.)

  17. 17
    WereBear says:

    Perhaps this is due to the Republican philosophy of worshiping Mammon, regardless of how that Mammon got accumulated?

    The fact that they don’t even have rules against it is the most telling part of the article.

    Live by the grifter…

  18. 18
    RSA says:

    @theylivebynight:

    I read the “Here’s the latest from the party of fiscal responsibility” and the linking to two other cases as implication.

    Well, of course some generalization is inevitable, I guess, simply because people choose to post about specific things.

  19. 19
    Rhoda says:

    Why isn’t this a national story tied to the Republicans failed control of Washington that led to this historic deficit and two failed wars?

    I don’t get it. This feeds into the Vitter and Ensign scandals too.

  20. 20
    dr. bloor says:

    Meh. Entitled twenty-five year old runs amok with credit card. The only thing this suggests is that no one in the Florida Republican Party has ever sent their kid off to college with an Amex card.

  21. 21
    Brian J says:

    Melanie Phister? Um, okay. I wonder what her friends Tony Rimjob or Henry Hummer were up to.

    Anyway, I try not to extrapolate too much from this, but it seems like they are running their party expenses the same way they are running the country’s expenses when they have a chance. Not all of them, certainly, but enough so that it’s appropriate for us to take notice.

  22. 22
    kay says:

    @dr. bloor:

    That isn’t really what happened. They charged expenses to her credit card, but the bulk of the charges aren’t her expenses. They just ran them through her account. She went on trips (with her mother) and racked up charges, but she was going along as a staffer. It was her job to go, and they actually told her to take her mother.
    There’s a federal and state inquiry into the Florida GOP’s finances, and the Party has hired a forensic accounting service.
    I love how they stuck the 28 (she’s now 28) year old low-level staffer out there to explain the expenses. Real profiles in courage down there.
    I think they’d like to fob this off as a 25 year old going nuts with a credit card, but that doesn’t appear to be what happened.

  23. 23
    tofubo says:

    the other day, some flunkie was on c-span talking about how the dems spend their money on hookers and blow and all i could think of was the band at the repub convention

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWerT-eO8_I (watch 1 min 15 seconds in)

  24. 24
    scav says:

    @dr. bloor: meh? did you read? 25-year-old was with mummsey and dadsey running up the bills and mummsey and dadsey also charged things on the card. Sorta implies the same sort of rigorous oversight that loses truckloads of cash in Iraq. Is it systemic? Not sure. Is there a developing pattern? . . . Maybe. Is it bad timing to be hitting the press at this time. Mmmmm, yeah, if you really really want to convince people to give you still more money.

  25. 25
    dmsilev says:

    Honestly, I think this is a trend which should be encouraged. Every dollar of GOP money that gets blown on hookers, fancy hotels, or Sarah Palin’s wardrobe is one less dollar available for funding dishonest mailers, voter suppression initiatives, etc.

    dms

  26. 26
    Admiral_Komack says:

    “She was a 25-year-old junior staffer when the Florida Republican Party gave her an American Express card.
    Over the next 2 ½ years, nearly $1.3 million in charges wound up on Melanie Phister’s AmEx—$40,000 at a London hotel and nearly $20,000 in plane tickets for indicted former House Speaker Ray Sansom, his wife and kids, for starters. Statements show thousands spent on jewelry, sporting goods and, in one case, $15,000 for what’s listed as a month-long stay at a posh Miami Beach hotel, but which the party says was a forfeited deposit.”

    -Hey, now!
    It’s not the government’s money, it’s HER money!
    Wolverines!

  27. 27

    @theylivebynight:

    I took the thread post as a testament to epic GOP hypocrisy and not limited to just misuse of party funds, that happens to be an example of one kind of hypocrisy. There is much more of it on many subjects.

  28. 28
    Randy P says:

    I’ll tell you what bugs me about this. We know the Republican Party historically has been swimming in money to throw at elections, particularly election advertising. If they had all that cash around despite politicians up and down the chain skimming off millions, how much would they have if they cleaned up the corruption? I say let them skim and I hope that the lesson people in the party take away from this is that there’s plenty for everyone, go get yours.

  29. 29
    mistermix says:

    @theylivebynight: Actually, I don’t think it’s a false generalization to say that the notion that Republicans are “The Party of Fiscal Responsibility” is simply laughable. It may well be the case that Democrats aren’t either, but they don’t brand themselves as such.

    It’s the disconnect between the branding and the reality that’s the issue here. That disconnect encompasses both the party’s recent stint in the majority, which resulted in record deficits, and their recent mis-management of campaign finances at the local and national level. That’s why pointing to equivalent Democratic cases (if such cases exist, which they don’t in the recent history of campaign finance scandals) is irrelevant to the underlying point about the Republican brand.

  30. 30
    Randy P says:

    @kay: Agree, and I think that’s fairly obvious when you see things like plane tickets for Ray Sansom and his family. I don’t think for a minute this staffer got any personal benefit from the party card. She’s just the gopher who has to go buy this stuff for the bigwigs.

  31. 31
    kay says:

    @Randy P:

    I was the volunteer treasurer for a state-registered PAC. It was small change, I don’t think they ever had more than 900 dollars in the bank, but there were fairly elaborate yearly reporting rules, and reporting ran through the local bd of elections and then the Sec of State’s office. Receipts for in-kind contributions, the whole 9 yards, and that was STATE-level. The rules are designed to find out where money is actually going. I just think that running charges through a staffer’s card is going to be a huge red flag. They aren’t going to concentrate on the card-holder. They’re going to concentrate on whomever signed off on any reports that were filed.

  32. 32
    Randy P says:

    @scav:
    Did YOU read? The trip where she brought her mother was a Sansom boondoggle where he ordered her to come along. The article makes it pretty clear that those were mostly his expenses, not hers. Sounds like he wanted to get some of his expenses off his own RNC credit card. Notice the sentence before that paragraph.

    Turns out Sansom spent heavily on Phister’s card as well.
    __
    Her credit card statements include at least four sets of plane tickets for Sansom, his wife and four kids. The former House speaker also ordered Phister to accompany him in the summer of 2008, on a trade trip to London. Phister brought her mother along at Sansom’s encouragement, and Phister’s GOP AmEx saw plenty of action: nearly $40,000 at a London hotel, and more than $3,600 in sightseeing expenses.

  33. 33
    scav says:

    @Randy P: well, some might consider trips for herself and her actual mother to Germany as a slight benefit. I can just see myself trying to take my mommy on a business trip with me and charge it to the company.

  34. 34
    scav says:

    @Randy P: so there’s a snark tag on your meh it’s all the 25-year-old’s fault?

  35. 35
    PaulW says:

    I have been saying for years that the Republican Party has been acting like drunken teenagers running up debts with their parents’ credit cards. But I was referring to their monstrous federal deficits: I didn’t mean for them to take me literally!

    I’ve been reading the articles as I live in the Tampa area and get the St. Pete paper that’s printing this. There’s no way this 28-yr-old is doing all that spending, it’s clearly other people in the state organization using her as a scapegoat while they indulge themselves.

    And there’s a growing number of voters who WANT these con artists in charge of our taxpayer money again?! What the hell is WRONG with you people?

  36. 36
    scav says:

    @scav: Wrong comment replied to. Sorry. Still, Jesus, forced! by the boss into dragging mommy along on a business trip and charging it off. this is beyond silliness. Yup, I’m sorry, I’m not buying the poor little innocent wide-eyed 25-year-old as being 100% proven innocent yet. I’m expecting a very messy report of the forensic accounting.

  37. 37
    Randy P says:

    @scav:
    No, when I read the rest of the article I see she got her skim too. But it’s still pretty clear that most of these charges were a way for others (particularly Sansom) to try to spread the charges around.

    And the fact that she parlayed this into a $70K position elsewhere with the party makes it pretty clear she knows how to play the game.

    Maybe taking her mother along and having some personal sightseeing time was by way of a bribe.

  38. 38
    Calvin Hobbes says:

    Although it was hard to find a photo on the web, I finally did, and my suspicions were confirmed: Phister is indeed a hottie! I imagine that the AMEX card wasn’t the only thing of hers that got heavy use.

  39. 39
    Jim Once says:

    Damn. I just have to say right here: I LOVE the St. Pete Times. One of two newspapers in the country run by a non-profit foundation, it shows what real journalism is all about.

  40. 40
    WereBear says:

    It’s really a Republican training program. If she can misappropriate funds at the training wheel level, she’ll be ready to squander state budgets next.

    When you get your Ph. D. (Philosophy of Hinky Documentation) you can just ship pallets of cash to a foreign country.

  41. 41
    Jim Once says:

    @WereBear:
    Ha! This is perfect.

  42. 42
    litbrit says:

    @WereBear:

    It’s really a Republican training program. If she can misappropriate funds at the training wheel level, she’ll be ready to squander state budgets next.

    That is an awesome summary of what’s going on, particularly in my state–just awesome. (Do you live in Florida, WereBear?!)

  43. 43
    litbrit says:

    @Jim Once:

    Hooray for my hometown newspaper! Yes, they are good. Not perfect, not by a long shot, but really good.

  44. 44
    r€nato says:

    @WereBear:

    yeah I think you win the thread. When you learn that this is how to spend money that’s not yours, it’s pretty easy to imagine how all that contracting in Iraq turned out.

  45. 45
    WereBear says:

    @litbrit:

    (Do you live in Florida, WereBear?!)

    Spent ten of my formative years there. Now fled to the frozen North.

  46. 46
    AxelFoley says:

    Holy Moley…this chick spent 1.3 mil in 2½ years? And what kind of credit limit does the RNC have on their credit cards? And can I get one?

  47. 47
    b-psycho says:

    Well why else would a 25 year old be caught dead anywhere near the GOP?

  48. 48
    AxelFoley says:

    @b-psycho:

    You’ll have to ask Joe Scarborough about that.

  49. 49
    Tim I says:

    What glorious news! Hope she enjoys the FBI interview. While I understand that she was being used as a beard to protect her boss from having these charges appear on his Amex card, I suspect that she may have profited personally from some of this. It would be hard to imagine someone willingly participating in such obvious abuse, without becoming part of the corruption.

    Some seem to be depicting her as the world’s most naive staffer. I doubt that she could be quite that innocent, which is not to say that Pfister’s boss is not the main culprit in this. I’m sure she can get a deal from the Feds in return for her testimony. I’d advise her to ditch the GOP attorney and get one of her own.

  50. 50
    kay says:

    @Randy P:

    The problem is going to be it has to line up with what everyone else filed. Is a trip to Germany with her mother “compensation” (and she’s an employee of the FL GOP) What line are they putting all these expenses on? WTF were they doing in Germany anyway?

    “The statements show Republican donors also paid for plane tickets to Germany for Phister and her mother.”

    I don’t think the inquiry is going to focus on whether these were stupid or foolhardy charges. That’s the FL GOP’s business. They can spend 19,000 on a meal for donors. As long as it’s legal, they can do whatever they want with donor money. The inquiry is going to focus on whether they were a way to get around other rules.

  51. 51
    Whackjob Militia Leader soonergrunt says:

    @AxelFoley: I see what you did there.

  52. 52
    JohnR says:

    @theylivebynight:

    This says about as much about conservatives as saying that Ed Gein and Jeff Dahmer were from Wisconsin says about that state.

    Interesting that you wrote “conservatives” instead of “Republicans”, since the story and post were about Republicans, not conservatives. Although if you write “Republican”, your intended argument suddenly looks a bit different. I’ve met people from Wisconsin. As a conservative myself, I’m almost offended.

  53. 53
    jcricket says:

    Look, people, if we focus on Republican abuses of money or power, the Democrats win. The path to Republican victory lies in not talking about what Republicans are doing, writing and/or saying.

    Sheesh, you people are all Democratic plants. Did you go through the same Soros-funded, ACORN, communist “community organizer” traitor training school?

  54. 54
    PaulW says:

    I’m still here in Florida, and let me tell you something…

    …this credit-card scandal is only the SECOND-most talked about thing going on this weekend.

    The bigger news has been the fight over the GOP-controlled legislature passing a bill known as SB6: it’s a bill designed to kill teacher tenure (say goodbye to all the good teachers when that happens), tie teacher job performance to how well the students do on tests (which is insane as the FCAT has its problems and isn’t a reliable indicator of what students need to learn and what they ARE learning), and other measurables for ‘merit pay’ that haven’t even been defined yet.

    The public outcry has been pretty big. The teachers are obviously against it. But even Crist has been stunned by the protests coming from Democratic and Republican voters alike (it turns out a lot of people are related to a lot of teachers. Go figure).

    The GOP state lege in Florida has been pretty clueless and wingnutty for the past few… well decades seems about right. They sledgehammered this bill through (‘ramming it’ is too mild a term for how they did it) as part of their long-struggling battle against our state’s educational system (every level from kindergarten to college has been under attack). Part of me thinks they pushed this bill knowing it would force Crist to either sign it and lose any support from the moderates/liberals or else veto it and lose any hope of winning the primary.

    Rumors abound there will be a ‘blue flu’ this week for any county schools not on Spring Break.

    Oh, and the third-best story in the state today? Another sighting of the Monkey on the Lam!

  55. 55
    PaulW says:

    @AxelFoley:

    Holy Moley…this chick spent 1.3 mil in 2½ years? And what kind of credit limit does the RNC have on their credit cards? And can I get one?

    I know of 12 percent of the state’s population – the unemployed part of Florida – who would LOVE to have a credit card like that. Who knows, we might even pay for our own start-up businesses with that kind of money…

  56. 56
    litbrit says:

    @PaulW:

    Sigh. Yes to everything you wrote.

    My sister’s a teacher in Sarasota. We’ve all been calling and e-mailing Gov. Crist, urging him to veto that piece of shit bill that was put together by ex-governor Jeb! and his kin and which magically bypassed the amendatory process, meaning only Crist can stop it.

    Scuttlebut says he will veto it, since doing so will only enrage the hard-right contingent who are already kissing Rubio’s ring–in other words, he wouldn’t have their support in the primary anyway–whereas signing it will piss off every moderate and lefty in the state, including the many teachers it stands to affect, two of whom are Crist’s own sisters.

    Oh, and yeah, that monkey–or as my boys call him, “the junkie monkey”, since they shot him with a trank gun and it had no visible effect–is still out and about.

    And people wonder why all the tabloid tv shows have satellite offices in Florida?

  57. 57
    rikyrah says:

    Grifters…

    the whole lot of them.

  58. 58
    ksmiami says:

    And the scary thing is, that for some reason the MSM think the GOP is just going to be the awesome and roll right back into power in NOV… I say what the effin hell are they smoking? The GOP has been exposed for all as crazy, corrupt, dumb and totally irresponsible. I can’t even understand their sound bytes anymore – uh freedom, fiscal responsibility, um okay, whatever????

Comments are closed.