Saturday, June 14, 2008

Quarterly Update on NRCC Accounting Scandal

What a difference three months makes in the investigation of Chris Ward's fast fingers as the National Republican Congressional Committee's chief money man. Consider the scenario in March:

A potential $1.74 million is missing. uncovered by Rep. Mike Conaway, an accountant representing west Texas. He noted, "This is as sophisticated as anything I've dealt with," adding "the financial statements looked very good." On the fraud Mike said, "this guy was covering his tracks."

RealClearPolitics gave an update on June 12. It showed Chris Ward stole from numerous other Republican fundraising accounts, those that traditionally feed the NRCC. It also provided some contrast to the earlier "assessment".

The amount quoted as missing is at least $725,000. The number dropped by over $1 million since the last update. This happened despite revelations Ward stole from two other major sources.

The fraud wasn't "particularly clever" noted investigative attorney Rob Kelner. Let's see, a CPA called it sophisticated while the attorney noted its simplicity and one man nature.

The heroes changed from Rep. Mike Conaway to NRCC Executive Director Pete Kirkham and Conaway's Chief of Staff, Jeff Burton. This pair confronted Chris Ward in early January, according to Kelner. Rob referred to Kirkham and Burton as the "unsung heroes" of the story.

I'm afraid Congressional Republicans sense blood in the water during an election year and have skittered to the safety of the beach. They did leave Kirkham in the chum stained water to save the Republican brand. Recall the failure of governance, elected Republican officials, in this scandal. They don't want you to remember the last update, much less offer an accurate assessment of how a Lone Ripoff Ranger fooled America's best leaders, because they were asleep at the wheel.

That's how we get a number $1 million less, how it went from "sophisticated" to "simple", and how the scapegoat brand got squarely seared at levels below Congressmen running for re-election. The facts are Republican leaders couldn't live up to the governance standards of a local nonprofit. No wonder they're fleeing it like a Baby Ruth floating in a swimming pool. Only this really was a governance "doodee." Funny, the investigation never touched on the NRCC Board or Executive Committee's role in the scandal. This is odd given their fiduciary responsibilities to donors.