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Did GOP group skip out on $228K South Carolina hotel bill?

February 7, 2012 |  7:42 am

Southern Republican Leadership Conference
Newt Gingrich walked away from South Carolina with a big victory. Now a southern Republican group stands accused of walking away from a tony Charleston hotel after last month's primaries -- and leaving a big unpaid tab.

The suit, filed Jan. 30 by the Charleston Place Hotel, alleges that the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, which reserved "virtually the entirety" of the hotel from Jan. 19 to Jan. 22, has failed to pay an outstanding bill of $227,872.

According to its website, the SRLC is a biennial meeting of Republican party leaders from 14 Southern states. The Charleston gathering, the group says, is considered to be "a must attend Republican event" -- one "expected to be one of the largest multistate events" for the GOP, with more than 2,000 attendees.

The hotel maintains that the meeting was a bust. "Due to their incompetence, the defendants failed to properly plan or manage the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, and it was poorly attended," the hotel's complaint states. "The conference was so poorly attended as to cause one Republican candidate, Newt Gingrich, to cancel his appearance."

Glenn Smith, a reporter at the Charleston Post & Courier, writes that conference officials have denied skipping out on the tab, and are instead engaged in a legitimate disagreement over the final bill.

The suit outlines what the hotel describes as "fraudulent and unsubstantiated claims" by the group, including "various difficulties with refunds or adjustments" and "the overall treatment" of the SRLC staff.


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Photo: Republican presidential candidates place their hands over their hearts during the playing of the national anthem before a debate at the North Charleston Coliseum on Jan. 19 in Charleston, S.C. The debate, hosted by CNN and the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, was the final debate before South Carolina voters headed to the polls for their primary. Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images