We've been following the strange case of NRCC treasurer Christopher Ward here at Newshoggers since the first announcement of possible problems - and it just keeps getting stranger. Now the NRCC says that somewhere under $1 million was transferred by Ward from the NRCC to Republican political committees he was also treasurer for, and thence to his own accounts. The actual cash on hand is short somewhere between $740,000 and $900,000 depending on which figure you take as gospel.
But I'm with Emptywheel on this - something still doesn't smell right.
The NRCC says that the FBI investigation has reached a point where it can reveal how much, it claims, it was bilked out of by Christopher Ward. Before I get into the details, though, what do you suppose it means that the investigation now allows them to go public about the damage? I ask because the NRCC makes clear that the FBI has never entered the premises of the NRCC. Curious.And we're still waiting to hear how many of the other Republican committees Ward was treasurer for are light on cash. There were 83 committees that raised more than $400 million total which used his services, including some already under a cloud themselves.
...it appears that the NRCC has not done a real audit of its finances since BCRA went into effect. So remarkably, just as campaign finance put new restrictions on soft money contributions, the NRCC stopped auditing what happened with its money.
The recently indicted Rep. Rick Renzi (Ariz.) and now imprisoned former congressman Robert W. Ney (Ohio), as well as less controversial lawmakers with minor accounting problems, are among the many members of the GOP delegation who turned to Ward to keep them out of trouble with FEC regulators.Others who used Ward's services include Reps. Peter King (R-L.I.) and Jim Walsh (R-N.Y.), Vito Fossella of Staten Island and even include GOP hopefuls like Illinois's Aaron Schock and Tim Baldermann. Ward was also Chair of the Republican 527 "American Spirit Fund", which is registered with the IRS but has filed no returns of financial activity, nor listed any donors or recipients in any election cycle since 2000.
...Lawmakers facing troubles with the FEC, as Renzi did shortly after he won election in 2002, were steered to Ward for help.
"He was known as a fix-it guy, and he was known for being good at it," said one former NRCC aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
It beggars belief that someone of Ward's undoubted ability could be so intimate with these people's finances and not know they stunk to high heaven. It also begs incredulity to suggest that, given the NRCC's admissions, Ward didn't avail himself of the temptation to pluck from a few of these low hanging fruit.
I'm willing to bet there are more than a few Republican politicians shaking in their boots lest the FBI begin following Ward's trail to their own finances. This one isn't over by a long chalk, no matter what the NRCC say. Or if it is, we'll be witnessing a cover-up of Nixonian proportions.