WASHINGTON -- Former South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson, who early last year narrowly lost his bid for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee, said Wednesday that he has received numerous calls from prominent Republicans concerned by a string of recent controversies tied to the man who beat him, Michael Steele.

Steele, a former Maryland lieutenant governor, has spent the past week dealing with political fallout from news that the party had reimbursed an aide $1,900 for taking a group of young donors to a bondage-themed sex club in West Hollywood.

Steele found himself on the defensive last month when an RNC fundraising document that depicted President Barack Obama as the Joker was made public.

The document, from a Florida seminar, depicted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as Cruella de Vil and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as Scooby-Doo.

Steele faced earlier criticism over accepting large speaking fees, taking chartered flights, going on a promotional tour for his new book and hosting a lavish retreat in Hawaii.

Dawson, now a GOP political consultant in Columbia, said the problems tied to Steele's leadership of the RNC have distressed influential Republicans.

"I've been taking calls from my friends around the country," Dawson said. "They're from people who have great concern about the Republican Party and also about the future of our country. Those two things are intertwined."

Dawson doubted that there would be a formal move to replace Steele.