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Republican staff shake-up amid nightclub furor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Republican National Committee had a top-level staff shake-up on Monday after revelations that it spent $2,000 to entertain potential contributors at a sex-themed nightclub.

Republican National Committee Chief of Staff Ken McKay resigned his post, becoming the second and highest-level staff departure since the furor erupted, according to Politico, a news organization that covers U.S. politics.

The controversy gripping the RNC comes as the party is hoping to grab control of the U.S. Congress from President Barack Obama's Democrats in November congressional elections.

Republican control of the House of Representatives and Senate would reduce Obama's ability to get his initiatives through Congress. But the leadership issues in the RNC are threatening to distract Republicans at a pivotal time.

"The members of the Republican National Committee entrusted myself and every staffer to lead the loyal opposition against the destructive Obama agenda, build a stronger Republican party and win elections," RNC Chairman Michael Steele said in a statement.

"This is a role I take with the utmost seriousness. With this in mind, I want to do everything in my power to ensure that the committee uses all its resources in the best possible fashion," Steele said, adding that he had appointed a former campaign aide, Mike Leavitt, his new chief of staff.

Steele, who was not at the RNC-paid outing at a bondage-themed nightclub in West Hollywood, has been criticized over his stewardship of the organization.

Some prominent Republicans have stepped up criticism of the RNC under Steele as it is working to build cash reserves for the November mid-term congressional elections.

(Reporting by Tabassum Zakaria; Editing by Will Dunham)

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