Inflation at the RNC: McDaniel salary more than doubled as chair, now far exceeds predecessors' pay

Ronna McDaniel's starting salary as RNC chair was $122,582, which had increased to $358,431 as of November 2022.

Published: January 25, 2023 7:35pm

Updated: January 26, 2023 2:30pm

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel's salary has more than doubled since she began her tenure six years ago, now far exceeding the pay of any of her predecessors as she seeks reelection this week.

McDaniel's salary for her first year was $122,582, which increased to $146,048 in 2018 and $285,498 in 2019, according to Federal Election Commission reports.

McDaniel was paid $410,640 in 2020, when the GOP lost both the White House and Senate. The next year, she received a salary of $396,592, and for the first 11 months of 2022 McDaniel made $358,431.

In contrast, the previous RNC chair, Reince Priebus, received a salary of $152,874 during his first year in 2011, which varied only slightly through 2014, FEC reports show. In 2015, he received $201,619, then $257,782 in 2016 and $57,232 in 2017.

Before Priebus, Michael Steele earned $114,839 as RNC chair in 2009, then $136,959 in 2010 and $18,733 in 2011, when he lost reelection, according to FEC reports.

The RNC didn't respond to a request for comment, but McDaniel's spokesperson for her reelection campaign told the Huffington Post, "Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has a base salary that is comparable to previous chairs, and any bonuses are voted upon by the Budget Committee based on metrics like fundraising."

The election for RNC chair is on Friday. RNC committee member and former Trump 2020 campaign legal adviser Harmeet Dhillon is running against McDaniel, as is MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.

The RNC chairwoman has faced calls to step down after losing the House of Representatives in 2018, both chambers of Congress and the White House in 2020, and far underperforming expectations by winning only a slim majority in the House while failing to regain the Senate in 2022.

McDaniel has touted her leadership in building party infrastructure, as 4 million more GOP voters than Democrats turned out nationwide during the 2022 midterms. Dhillon, however, has alleged that the RNC has overspent on consultants and "frivolous expenditures that don’t win elections," Politico reported.

Both McDaniel and Dhillon have received major endorsements for RNC chair.

The RNC has 168 committee members that vote in the election for committee chair, and the winner needs 85 to win. McDaniel has circulated a letter with signatures from 107 RNC members endorsing her for reelection. She was also endorsed by GOP megadonor Elizabeth Uihlein, who has donated tens of millions to the GOP and conservative causes in years past. Uihlein signed a letter with more than 150 GOP donors who endorsed McDaniel for reelection, according to The Hill.

However, Uihlein's husband, billionaire and GOP megadonor Dick Uihlein, has endorsed Dhillon.

Dhillon has also received endorsements from other major GOP donors, including Home Depot cofounder Bernie Marcus. Another 20 donors, who have reportedly given at least $14 million to the GOP since McDaniel took over the RNC in 2017, signed a letter supporting Dhillon.

Both the Texas Republican Party and the Arizona Republican Party have expressed no confidence in McDaniel and called for new leadership, and the state parties of Washington, Nebraska and Arkansas have endorsed Dhillon.

According to Dhillon's RNC campaign website, a partial list shows that she has received 29 endorsements from RNC committee members and state chairs.

Former President Donald Trump, who picked McDaniel for RNC chair after he won the White House in 2016, has declined to make an endorsement in the contest.

According to a Convention of States Action survey conducted by the Trafalgar Group last month, about 73% of Republican voters said a new person should be elected to lead the RNC, while 21% said they were unsure about who the next chair should be, and 6% of GOP voters said McDaniel should run for a fourth therm.

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