Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 21, 2010

THE RNC'S HIDDEN DEBTS.... I've lost count of how many times it's looked like a new controversy would force former RNC Chairman Michael Steele from his job. But in each instance, Steele looks ridiculous, the story eventually fades, the party doesn't want to go to the trouble of ousting him, and he lives to screw up another day.

The Washington Times reports today, however, on a new matter that has nothing to do with Steele's notorious gaffes, and more to do with his notorious mismanagement.

The Republican National Committee failed to report more than $7 million in debt to the Federal Election Commission in recent months -- a move that made its bottom line appear healthier than it is heading into the midterm elections and that also raises the prospect of a hefty fine.

In a memo to RNC budget committee members, RNC Treasurer Randy Pullen on Tuesday accused Chairman Michael S. Steele and his chief of staff, Michael Leavitt, of trying to conceal the information from him by ordering staff not to communicate with the treasurer -- a charge RNC officials deny.

Mr. Pullen told the members that he had discovered $3.3 million in debt from April and $3.8 million from May, which he said had led him to file erroneous reports with the FEC. He amended the FEC filings Tuesday.

When it comes to consequences, the financial problem could cause all kinds of trouble for Republicans. Deliberately filing deceptive FEC reports is criminal, and could lead to stiff penalties -- if not formal charges -- before the elections.

And while the Republican National Committee is already downplaying the significance of this, there's reason to believe the party is aware of the seriousness of the situation.

The Washington Times also has learned that former Federal Election Commission Chairman Michael E. Toner has been retained as outside counsel to the RNC, a move Mr. von Spakovsky called unusual and significant.

"The RNC normally uses its own inside counsel to deal with the FEC," said Mr. von Spakovsky, a Heritage Foundation legal scholar. "But if I had a really serious problem with the FEC, Michael Toner is one of the first guys I would turn to help me out."

Not only could this generate real legal problems for the RNC, if the allegations are true, there's also the unfortunate political message -- when Republicans can't manage their own books, they play accounting tricks and hide off-book debts, regardless of the law.

It's a story to keep an eye on.

Steve Benen 9:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (22)

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Comments

-it would be interesting to know where the 7 million went. . .

Posted by: DAY on July 21, 2010 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sure Michael Steele will resign any minute now. Oh, wait...

Posted by: Miki on July 21, 2010 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

At least they're consistant in forgetting about depths they raise.

Posted by: Vokoban on July 21, 2010 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

-it would be interesting to know where the 7 million went. . .

Naked people and booze, no doubt.

Posted by: cr on July 21, 2010 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

We need to make the repubs inability to manage finances the theme of the midterms. Not just the RNC but the Florida repub party, and oh yeah bush and the repubs from 2001 to 2008.

Posted by: Cal on July 21, 2010 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

Hiding deficits in its national organization? Boy, the Republicans seem to be caught up in a something for nothing binge - just the way they've proven they will govern if given the chance!

The question of the campaign hour seems to be whether dysfunctional Americans will come out to vote for the dysfunctional Republican party this November.

No one in his right mind has ever said democracy is a pretty thing! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on July 21, 2010 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

Umm, isn't this the way many of the major corporations in the US function? Seems to me the RNC is just behaving in a "businesslike" manner.

Posted by: martin on July 21, 2010 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

they play accounting tricks and hide off-book debts

Isn't that what they did with two wars, also? Oh, and Medicare D??

Posted by: Michigoose on July 21, 2010 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

The RNC should stop asking for donations. As donations fall to zero their debt will magically disappear and in fact they'll have a huge amount of money to spend. Just like with tax cuts.

And this is probably a completely unrelated Mr. von Spakovsky. Also.

Posted by: Fleas correct the era on July 21, 2010 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats should pay. Steele is obviously one of their most effective campaign assets

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on July 21, 2010 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

Hopefully the GOP will die so a strong Tea Party can rise from its ashes.

Posted by: Al on July 21, 2010 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

with regards to public highway deaths, Gov Jan Brewer of Az did the same thing ... Hid them, refused to release stats... Because she wanted to eliminate photo speed cameras which brought in lots of money to cash strapped Az AND lowered the average speed on freeways.

funny how some Republicans believe in obeying and enforcing the law, but only when it suits them

But you know this...

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on July 21, 2010 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK
when Republicans can't manage their own books, they play accounting tricks and hide off-book debts, regardless of the law.
In other news, dog bites man... Posted by: Bernard Gilroy on July 21, 2010 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Rush Limpballs should contribute 7 million and a picture of his anal cyst, to rescue the party.

Posted by: Ted76 on July 21, 2010 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Deliberately filing deceptive FEC reports is criminal, and could lead to stiff penalties

Since Benen likes to refer to the Republicans and teabaggers as just clueless or idiots instead of just being liars, the RNC probably just didn't know what they are doing.

when Republicans can't manage their own books, they play accounting tricks and hide off-book debts

Isn't that just the way they govern?

Posted by: qwerty on July 21, 2010 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

"Mr. Von Spakovsky, a Heritage foundation Legal Scholar." That pretty much sums up the modern conservative movement, don't it?

Posted by: Booger on July 21, 2010 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

when Republicans can't manage their own books, they play accounting tricks and hide off-book debts, regardless of the law.

Yeah, but they didn't spend any of the $7 million on helping poor people or minorities, did they? Phew! As long as it's used to benefit rich white guys, there's no amount of debt, corruption or graft that will raise the eyebrows of true conservatives. Just another day at the office for the GOP.

Posted by: jonas on July 21, 2010 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

July 21st, 2010

From the desk of Tim Kaine, Chair DNC

MEMO:
====
Agent Steele's mission continues beyond projected useful life of deployment. Duration of deployment incurring suspicion of double-cross.

Agent Steele now suspected to be working for the Republicans.

While the cause of our previous success of campaign may have been mischaracterized,
continuation of the Steele Chairmanship is recommended and mechanisms to quell internal criticism are being implemented.


T. Kaine

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on July 21, 2010 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

I thought hiding debt was part of the GOP platform. Why do you expect them to run their party better than they run the government?

Posted by: Jon on July 21, 2010 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: efgoldman on July 21, 2010 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

The RNC should stop asking for donations. As donations fall to zero their debt will magically disappear and in fact they'll have a huge amount of money to spend. Just like with tax cuts.
Posted by: Fleas correct the era


Brilliant ! I love it ! Voodoo campaign contributions.

Posted by: G.Kerby on July 21, 2010 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder when the California GOP will recommend reducing all state taxes in order to solve the state debt crisis...

Posted by: Marc in Denver on July 21, 2010 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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