Steve King, the Republican national committeeman for Wisconsin and a supporter of Reince Priebus, says the accusation that Priebus assisted legal clients on applications for stimulus funds is false. “There’s absolutely not a scintilla of truth to the charge here,” King says. “Some element of the firm must have put out some marketing thing. They’re a general corporation firm. Somehow that erroneously got hooked up to Reince’s personal thing. But he has never been involved in terms of the group that was trying to do that. He hasn’t and won’t. End of story.”
James Klauser, former secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Administration under Gov. Tommy Thompson, calls the accusation “a shallow criticism.”
“I would hope Republicans would understand what the electorate said on November 2, which was not pro-Republican but anti-shallowness.” Given the recent criticism of Priebus, Klauser concludes, “one has to wonder if they got the message.”
King also defends Priebus against another charge made against him: that as RNC general counsel under chairman Michael Steele, he shares some of the current administration’s taint. “What people probably don’t know is [Priebus] spent a lot of time trying to mediate and arbitrate between Mike and folks on the RNC,” King reasons, “which means he wasn’t necessarily agreeing with Michael. He was doing what he thought was best.”
“To liken him to Steele is very unfair and inappropriate,” Klauser adds.
Priebus raised eyebrows by resigning his post and declaring his candidacy earlier this month, even though he had managed Steele’s campaign for chairman in 2009. Still, King insists, Priebus had been harboring doubts about the chairman for a while. “Michael is his own man and he sought counsel, and those people would give their opinions, and Michael would go along with what Michael wanted to do” — which often meant he ignored Priebus, King argues. “It became clear some point early on that we were going to require new leadership.”
King considers the recent spate of attacks an indication that Priebus is the front-runner for the chairmanship.