First, the good news: House Republicans should recoup some of the money a former employee allegedly embezzeled from their campaign committee thanks to an insurance policy that protects against theft.
Now, the bad: It might take a while to collect.
This silver lining doesn’t diminish the dark cloud that has hovered over the National Republican Congressional Committee since members and staff discovered a former treasurer forged bank records the campaign arm filed with its principle lender, Wachovia.
On Thursday, an outside audit team will present NRCC brass with the final dollar amount that they believe Christopher J. Ward redirected from committee coffers to his personal bank accounts. The team from PricewaterhouseCoopers, accompanied by a lawyer from Covington & Burling, will also brief party leaders on the findings of this extended forensic audit.
This final briefing comes days after the Justice Department filed a civil forfeiture against Ward’s home in Bethesda, Md., alleging the former treasurer embezzled more than $500,000 from several bank accounts created for the annual President’s Dinner, the Republicans' signature fundraising event each summer.
Ward diverted more than $150,000 through separate bank accounts created for the President’s Dinner to his personal bank account with Wachovia and other accounts he had with the bank to finance the landscaping and remodeling of his home on a leafy stretch of Massachusetts Avenue in the Washington suburbs, according to documents filed last week in federal court. He also made at least one mortgage payment using money from the President’s Dinner account, prosecutors allege.
“This is the classic example of a trusted employee who went bad,” said Texas Rep. Mike Conaway, a certified public accountant who heads the committee’s audit team.
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