Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Michael Steele is traveling to Guam in September to help raise money for the island's top GOP candidates.
In a statement published by the Pacific News Center, Guam Gov. Felix Camacho (R) announces that Steele will be providing the keynote speech for "the September 7th Republican Party fundraiser benefiting the Republican nominees for the Governor of Guahan and Senators of the Guam Legislature. Additionally, the Chairman will be the honored guest at a luncheon fundraiser on September 8th benefiting the Republican Party of Guahan."
On Aug. 27, the Saipan Tribune also reported that Steele would be going to Saipan, in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), to endorse former governor Juan N. Babauta as the islands' representative to the U.S. Congress, making him the first RNC chair to ever visit the CNMI.
In February, two RNC staffers, State and Local Development Director Shannon Reeves and Director of Political Strategies for New Media George Alafoginis, were also in Guam. RNC Communications Director said their trip was "part of party building activities the committee undertakes everyday to ensure the Republican Party is competitive in every state and territory."
In January, National Journal reported that the RNC had transferred $20,000 to CNMI over a two-month period. Many critics wondered whether the funds were the RNC's political payback for helping Steele become chairman. Steele received heavy support from the U.S. territories -- CNMI, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam -- who hold outsized influenced in the RNC elections. Under GOP rules, each territory receives the same number of committee members as each U.S. state.
Camacho is term-limited and cannot run for re-election. In his statement, he said that he is "confident that Chairman Steele's visit will help the Republican Party secure the necessary resources we need to regain control of the Governor's office as well as a majority in the Guam Legislature. As part of Chairman Steele's mission to reinvigorate the Republican Party as well as attracting new voters, his visit to our island demonstrates that the Guamanian voters in the continental U.S. are an important part of this mission."
RNC Communications Director Doug Heye confirmed Steele's trip in a statement to the Huffington Post: "Chairman Steele will be traveling to two territories and some western states to help raise money for candidates and local parties." He did not respond to our inquiry as to how much the trip would cost.