Wednesday, February 06, 2008

NRCC Puckers Up For Fraud Scandal

By Cernig

The Politico reports that the Republican culture of corruption is about to get another airing.
Top House Republicans were told in recent days that a former employee of their campaign committee may have forged an official audit during the contentious 2006 election cycle and that they should brace for the possibility that an unfolding investigation could uncover financial improprieties stretching back several years, according to GOP sources briefed on the members-only discussions.
There's an FBI investigation and an NRCC internal CYA exercise going on, all centered around the guy the NRCC is preparing to throw under the bus.
The NRCC internal investigation centers on Christopher J. Ward, a former NRCC treasurer who worked at the committee until mid-August of last year, according to those briefed on the matter. From that time until late December, Ward was an outside contractor for the NRCC, according to Federal Election Commission records.

The FBI, which was informed about the matter last week, did not respond to calls for comment.

As treasurer, Ward was in charge of NRCC bookkeeping, tracking tens of millions of dollars in political contributions and expenditures. He has been at the center of NRCC bookkeeping for more than a decade.

Ward also served as treasurer for numerous other Republican campaigns and leadership political action committees, according to FEC records.

...Over the years, Ward has also served as the official treasurer for numerous congressional Republicans, their PACs and other GOP candidates running for Congress...“He was the go-to guy if anybody needed a Republican treasurer” for a campaign committee or a leadership PAC, [a former NRCC official] said.
Ward had worked for the NRCC since 1993 and had also done work for several Republican politicos, including jailed fraudster Bob Ney.

We're going to be told that this "very reliable guy" had a loose cannon alter ego, was acting alone and without instruction, and that not a single one of the Republicans he worked for hired him because he was good at creative accounting and plausible deniability. A forensic auditor has been hired by the NRCC and I have no doubt whatsoever that he will earn his wages. It'll be very interesting indeed to see what Ward has to say about it all but don't be surprised if he refuses to support the party spin after they've tried to throw him under the bus from word one.

Not everyone seems to want to buy the emerging NRCC line even before they hear Ward's side. The Politico reports that one Republican already had to cancel a fundraiser after backers refused to turn out in the wake of this breaking news. As Kyle Moore writes, "it’s bad enough that the party is already showing very visible and very fragile faultlines made all the more apparent last night during the Super Tuesday primaries, but the GOP’s political fortunes are likely to get even worse" as this scandal plays out and the rats refuse to go anywhere near the sinking ship. Imagine if an Obama nomination puts red states into play as possible swing states - with this scandal going on and on in the media and the cupboards bare. That's got to be just one of the nightmare scenarios which will be causing severe pucker-factor in the offices of GOP movers and shakers today.

Update The Albany Project notes that Tom Reynolds and Bill Paxton, former NRCC chairs, are going to have some explaining to do. And Raw Story notes the link between the consultancy firm Ward has just quit from in the last few days and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

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