Earlier this week, Republican National Committee political director Gentry Collins resigned and wrote a scathing letter about the RNC's poor fundraising performance in the 2010 cycle. Now, Steele's written a letter saying that the RNC under his tenure saved the Republican party from a "potentially ruinous third-party movement."

“While President Obama and the Washington crowd treated the Tea Party with disdain or condescension, the RNC accorded them respect," wrote Steele, who doesn't acknowledge the RNC's financial backing of liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava over conservative Doug Hoffman.

Steele also tries to paint a rosy picture of the RNC's fundraising, but as Politico's Byron Tau notes, Steele "doesn't rebut any of Gentry Collins' specific charges."

To recall a few of the by-the-numbers lowlights from Collins's letter:

--"Historical fundraising costs have been less that 50 cents per dollar raised: Estimates for cost-of-funds this cycle were much higher, and some estimate that they were closer to 70 cents on the dollar." ...

--"For the 2010 election year itself, RNC cash transfers to state parties for political purposes were just $13.1 million—less than a quarter of the $56.7 million cash transfers to state parties in 2006 for political purposes,” Collins writes. “And in 2010, the RNC went $15 million into debt to fund these programs.”

--The RNC only raised $18 million from high-dollar donors.

--And not only was the RNC so strapped for cash that it couldn't fund its final 72-hour get-out-the-vote program, "States were not notified of RNC Chief of Staff Mike Leavitt’s order that no 72-hour funding would be made available to them until October 22, 2010 – just one week before the 72-hour window opened."

To say the least, Steele should make this an interesting RNC race if he follows through with a seemingly imminent reelection bid.

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