Earlier this month, reports leaked suggesting the Republican National Committee had failed to report “hundreds of thousands of dollars” of debt to the FEC. It now appears that the level of debt is much greater than originally estimated and may have been hidden by committee leadership. The Washington Times reports:
In a memo to RNC budget committee members, RNC Treasurer Randy Pullen on Tuesday accused Chairman Michael S. Steele and his chief of staff, Michael Leavitt, of trying to conceal the information from him by ordering staff not to communicate with the treasurer – a charge RNC officials deny.
Mr. Pullen told the members that he had discovered $3.3 million in debt from April and $3.8 million from May, which he said had led him to file erroneous reports with the FEC. He amended the FEC filings Tuesday.
Campaign-finance analysts said that simply misreporting fundraising numbers to the FEC can lead to millions of dollars in fines and that criminal charges can be levied if the actions are suspected to be intentional.
Though RNC aides and officials are strongly denying any wrongdoing or misreporting, the organization has brought on “former [FEC] Chairman Michael E. Toner” as outside counsel, an “unusual and significant move,” according to Heritage Foundation legal pundit Hans A. von Spakovsky. He noted, “The RNC normally uses its own inside counsel to deal with the FEC, but if I had a really serious problem with the FEC, Michael Toner is one of the first guys I would turn to help me out.” It also looks like another serious problem for Steele, who just got done weathering numerous calls for his resignation after suggesting that the U.S. should not be involved in Afghanistan.