Even though in the 2010 cycle the RNC took in less than half of its 2008 cycle receipts, the national party committee employed half of the top 10 staff salaries of the cycle.
These five RNC employees collectively received almost $1.2 million, led by then-Chairman Michael Steele. Over his tumultuous tenure at the helm, Steele received nearly $252,000 in pay. Other high-ranking RNC officials included Chief Digital Strategist Todd Herman with $239,000 and Deputy Finance Director-Direct Marketing Jim Rowley with $237,000. These totals only include salaries reported as campaign expenditures and may not include other forms of compensation.
Even two officials who left the organization before the end of the cycle made enough to round out the list of the 10 highest-paid staffers, including former RNC Chief of Staff Kenneth McKay IV, who received a total of more than $226,000 from November 2009 to April 2010.
McKay resigned in April 2010 during the wake of an expenditures scandal when it was reported that nearly $2,000 in donor funds was spent on food and drinks at a bondage-themed club in West Hollywood, Calif. But some of the largest payroll disbursements to McKay came after he announced his departure from the RNC. The committee paid McKay almost $69,000 listed as “payroll” during the three weeks following his announced resignation on April 6, 2010.
Another former RNC staffer with large paychecks was Political Director Gentry Collins, who received at least $235,000 in paid salary. Collins resigned from the RNC by writing a scathing letter to Steele criticizing his leadership and saying he “allowed its major donor base to wither” during the 2010 cycle. Unlike McKay, Collins did not receive any large paychecks following his departure.
Some of the pay listed in FEC records included bonuses. Almost 70 committees reported bonuses totaling $940,000 during the 2010 election cycle. The Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee — a committee with some leftover funds from the Democratic National Convention — was the biggest of these, doling out 50 bonuses totaling $103,000.