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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Republican Fundraising Fraud Probe Has Connections to Michele Bachmann

Not surprising. Kudos to Andy Birkey for getting the story.

The tendrils of an internal audit and subsequent FBI investigation of the National Republican Congressional Committee has reached Republicans in Minnesota. Last week, NRCC Chairman Tom Cole, R-Okla., announced that "accounting irregularities" that "may include fraud" have resulted in an outside investigation by the FBI.

Today, Politico reports that Christopher J. Ward, a former treasurer at the NRCC, is the focus of the investigation. Ward was also treasurer for the Minnesotans for a Republican Congress Committee, a PAC benefiting former Rep. Mark Kennedy; the MN 06 Congressional Victory Committee, a PAC benefiting Rep. Michele Bachmann; and the Senate Majority Committee, a PAC benefiting Sen. Norm Coleman.

From Politico:

The NRCC’s accounting problems were discussed during two high-level conference calls between senior GOP lawmakers on Friday and Monday night, according to Republicans briefed on the calls.

“There is a sense that this could be very damaging to the committee,” said a Republican insider close to the GOP leadership.

The precise details of the suspected accounting irregularities and their possible fallout are not entirely clear. NRCC officials and top GOP leaders are being tight-lipped in large part because the FBI is investigating the matter. An outside lawyer advising members and staff has warned everyone at the committee to keep quiet.