Boehner Seeks Change on Restitution

Posted April 1, 2005 at 5:47pm

It appears that Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) will likely never recover the more $600,000 his former campaign treasurer embezzled from the Congressman’s campaign committee several years ago.

Under a court-ordered restitution, Russell Roberts has been paying Boehner $25 quarterly installments while serving time in prison.

Upon completion of his 30-month sentence, Roberts will be required to pay $10 per month, or $120 annually.

“If Congressman Boehner were in office for another forty years, the projected amount of the required restitution would be less than $5,000,” Boehner’s campaign lawyer, Jan Baran, noted in a recent letter to the Federal Election Commission. The letter seeks the FEC’s permission to exclude the embezzled amount from any listed debt to the campaign and proposed that any restitution payments be given to charity.

Said Baran: “As should be readily apparent from the restitution order, at the required rate of repayment, Friends of Boehner will never obtain full restitution from Mr. Roberts.”

Roberts’ embezzlement of the campaign funds first became apparent in 2003, after other Boehner campaign aides noticed that certain disbursements had been misreported in the campaign’s FEC filings.

According to court records and coverage of the case, Roberts attempted to cover his tracks by claiming that accounting problems were the product of a March 2001 flood that had destroyed the campaign’s computer records.

Later, however, Roberts admitted he had stolen the funds to support a gambling habit. He pleaded guilty in 2003 to transporting stolen funds over state lines and causing false statements to be filed with the FEC.

With no hope in sight of recovering any more than a minimal amount of the embezzled funds, Boehner has asked that Roberts’ restitution payments instead be paid to an Ohio-based charity and not be included as a debt owed to the campaign.

A rash of embezzlement has hit Members’ on both sides of the aisle.

Last year, a former finance director to Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) was accused of having stolen $200,000 from the campaign over a three-year period. The aide subsequently repaid $50,000 of that amount and agreed to reimburse the remaining $150,000. The matter was referred to the FBI.

Other lawmakers reporting embezzlement schemes involving their campaigns or their political action committees over the past several years have included: Sens. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), Joseph Biden (D-Del.), Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) and Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), and Reps. Henry Bonilla (R-Texas), Anne Northup (R-Ky.), Ernest Istook (R-Okla.), Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), Sam Farr (D-Calif.) and then-Rep. Gary Condit (D-Calif.).