The Washington Times broke a story this morning alleging that the Republican National Committee failed to report more than $7 million in debt:
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.
If it is true that the RNC has tried to hide their debts, they could face serious disciplinary action from the FEC. But having dealt with some financial issues before, the RNC has retained former FEC Chairman Michael E. Toner as outside counsel – a man whom the Washington Times‘ own piece calls ”one of the hottest campaign-finance legal talents the GOP has in town”.
Toner released a memo to the members of the Republican National Committee today, and FrumForum has obtained a copy:
As outside counsel to the Republican National Committee, we write this memorandum to address concerns raised by some RNC members based on media stories this morning claiming that the RNC has improperly failed to report $7 million of debt. These reports are extraordinarily misleading… Contrary to the hyperbolic claims in the media reports, the RNC has not at any time carried $7 million of debt, and all the debts at issue have been paid…
It is unfortunate that misinformation concerning internal RNC procedures has been somehow disseminated to the media, as the spreading of these inaccuracies operates to the grave detriment of the RNC. Contrary to today’s media accounts, the RNC has been and will remain committed to accurate FEC reporting, transparency, and fiscal discipline with its donors’ money.
If Toner is to be trusted – and the Times suggests he can be – then this brouhaha about the Republican National Committee’s debts are more political than financial. Having been hit by a slew of gaffes and missteps, Chairman Michael Steele looks vulnerable, and some RNC members may be looking to capitalize.
Most recent figures from the FEC show that the RNC had debts of around $750,000 at the end of May, and about $12.5 million cash on hand.
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