Friday, March 14, 2008

Stop, thief!

Republican officials say they've caught a swindler at their congressional campaign committee:
The former treasurer for the National Republican Congressional Committee diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars -- and possibly as much as $1 million -- of the organization's funds into his personal accounts, GOP officials said yesterday, describing an alleged scheme that could become one of the largest political frauds in recent history.
For at least four years, Christopher J. Ward, who is under investigation by the FBI, allegedly used wire transfers to funnel money out of NRCC coffers and into other political committee accounts he controlled as treasurer, NRCC leaders and lawyers said in their first public statement since they turned the matter over to the FBI six weeks ago.
"The evidence we have today indicated we have been deceived and betrayed for a number of years by a highly respected and trusted individual," said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the NRCC chairman.

Who is this Ward character, and how did he become so "highly respected and trusted"? Did nobody at NRCC notice that their treasurer was living a little too large?

This isn't petty cash we're talking about. According to the NRCC's own public report, at the end of the year 2006, the coffers were nearly $1 million light; as of Jan. 31 of this year, accounts were short $740,000.

Inevitably in these kinds of cases, there will be either a trial or a plea-bargain hearing, at which point the newspapers will report a long list of stuff the perp bought with his swindled loot. It will be interesting to see what Ward got from looting the NRCC treasury.

All of this is merely alleged fraud and embezzlement, I hasten to add. But with the FBI involved and the NRCC issuing public statements, things don't look good for Ward.

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