Why House Republicans are short on cash

Auditors say the former treasurer of the National Republican Congressional Committee may have embezzled up to $1 million, said Eve Fairbanks in a New Republic blog, and it's "hard to overstate how bad" this is for the "poor, beleaguered RNC

What happened

Christopher Ward, the former treasurer of the National Republican Congressional Committee, may have embezzled up to $1 million from the party’s coffers, according to an internal audit conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. The audit itself cost about $370,000, according to NRCC chairman Thomas Cole. Cole said that Ward apparently siphoned off funds from the NRCC and from various political action committees and reelection campaigns he worked on. “The exact dollar figures are currently a moving target,” the NRCC said. (Politico)

What the commentators said

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“Whoa,” said Eve Fairbanks in The New Republic’s Plank blog. It’s “hard to overstate how bad” this is for the “poor, beleaguered RNCC.” Not only did House Republicans lose the seat held by former House Speaker Dennis Hastert this week, but it looks like their treasurer “simply stole most of the NRCC’s money.” It’s like “a high school election” where “the candidate’s buddy makes off with the cash box,” only this is the “national party.” Still, “you just have to wonder” how a $10,000 transfer from ousted New York Democratic Gov. Eliot Spizter “to a prostitution ring tripped up authorities while the NRCC’s treasurer stole one million dollars and nobody noticed anything?”

Well, you have to hand it to the GOP, said Justin Jackson in the blog Political Derby. With Spitzer’s spectacular fall and race issues flaring in the Democratic Party, “this is a great week to unload any bad news” you might have. Still, massive embezzlement is “the kind of news that makes current donors livid and potential donors a tad uncomfortable,” and with Democrats far ahead in the money race, the GOP needs happy donors.

This has been an "incredibly tough cycle" for Republicans, said the blog Too Conservative. But NRCC leader Cole's wounds have been self-inflicted. His “missteps”—like sinking $1.2 million, a third of the “cash-strapped” committee’s “cash on hand,” into a hapless GOP millionaire running for Hastert’s seat—mean he should be ousted. The party will still be stuck with Cole’s mess, “but that doesn’t mean we have to be stuck with Tom Cole.”

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