Four Republican Congressional campaigns have severed ties with their treasurer after allegations surfaced that the FBI is investigating financial irregularities that transpired while he served at the National Republican Congressional Committee.
One of the four candidates, Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.), told Roll Call on Wednesday that his campaign has terminated its relationship with Christopher Ward after hearing reports that he is the target of the NRCC investigation. A GOP insider familiar with the investigation confirmed that Ward is the target.
“He was our treasurer, but he won’t be anymore,” Alexander said.
Ward on Wednesday did not respond to a voice mail message or e-mail requesting comment. Ward served as the NRCC treasurer until last summer and also has several consulting businesses that provide campaign finance recordkeeping and reporting services to clients.
NRCC Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) announced Friday that the committee had discovered “irregularities in our financial audit process” and asked the FBI to investigate. Cole said the NRCC terminated its relationship “with a former employee who had been engaged as an outside vendor,” but he refused to identify the vendor.
The Republican insider familiar with the investigation confirmed that Ward’s status as an NRCC vendor has been terminated. According to the NRCC’s 2007 year-end Federal Election Commission report, C.J. Ward & Co. LLC was paid by the NRCC for services rendered on Dec. 3 — just two months ago.
Additional Republican sources familiar with the case have said Ward is the target of the investigation. But the NRCC — on the advice of outside counsel, according to one of those sources — has been careful not to name him, even when briefing Republican House Members.
The NRCC on Wednesday declined to comment for this story.
But according to Republicans familiar with the situation, FBI investigators have been to the committee’s offices, as has a well-known accounting firm brought in to conduct a “forensic” investigation of its own — with both entities focusing on activities conducted by Ward in 2006 and previously.
No evidence of a theft of funds has been discovered at this point, just accounting irregularities suggesting that some sort of malfeasance might have occurred. However, all of the money raised, spent and banked in the current election cycle has been accounted for by the NRCC.
“No money has disappeared from this cycle,” one source said.
Added the Republican insider familiar with the investigation:
“We know that there was a bad apple that didn’t do his job. He was in charge of finances and reporting, and right now the extent of what he did, or didn’t do, is being investigated. We don’t know if he stole anything; we just know he went through elaborate hoaxes to make people think things were getting done that weren’t.”
Meanwhile, it appears that when the committee decided to sever ties with Ward, NRCC officials did not alert GOP candidates who were using his services.
Alexander said he heard about the investigation from another campaign consultant who works for him, but that he has not yet heard from the NRCC about it.
“I’m anxious to talk to Tom Cole,” Alexander said. “We still don’t know any of the details about why [the consultant is] being investigated.”
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