Cole: Ward "deceived And Betrayed" The NRCC "for A Number Of Years"

After weeks of speculation regarding an accounting scandal at the National Republican Congressional Committee, Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.), the committee's chairman, today began to give GOP leaders an idea just how big the problem might be.

The NRCC says its former treasurer, Christopher J. Ward, likely made "several hundred thousand dollars in unauthorized transfers of NRCC funds to outside committees whose bank accounts he had access to, including joint fundraising committees in which the NRCC participated. He also appears to have made subsequent transfers of several hundred thousand dollars in funds from those outside committees to what appear to be his personal and business bank accounts."

Cole said the transfers go back several years, but the NRCC is still unsure how much Ward may have diverted from committee coffers.

"Those unauthorized transactions date back to at least 2004," an NRCC statement said. "The exact dollar figures are currently a moving target, and as the investigation progresses, it is entirely possible that these figures will change, either by increasing or decreasing. The forensic investigation has also noted numerous instances in which the unauthorized transfers were either not accurately reported, or were not reported at all, on FEC reports."

So far, the NRCC has decided to file a new disclosure statement for January 2008 stating that it has $740,000 less cash on hand than previously reported. The NRCC's actual cash-on-hand at the end of January was $5.7 million, not the $6.64 million the committee reported to the FEC.

But the NRCC notes that the discrepancy at the end of 2006 was nearly $1 million ($990,000), and the committee hasn't had a "completed" outside audit since 2001, which is longer than some media reports have indicated.

Also, Ward, after becoming treasurer in 2003, "submitted to the NRCC's bank and to the NRCC leadership bogus audit reports for 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005. The aditional bogus audit was submitted to the NRCC's bank for 2006."
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