The nasty infighting at the RNC over apparently deliberate misrepresentations in its April and May FEC reports has just gotten worse.
To recap, this is what ABC News reported on July 21:
A GOP civil war has broken out between RNC Chairman Michael Steele and RNC Treasurer Randy Pullen.
The dust-up reveals new levels of dysfunction at the RNC and suggests the Republican National Committee is having real money problems.
In a memo obtained by ABC News, Pullen makes startling allegations against Steele’s chief of staff, (Michael Leavitt), accusing him of trying to hide unpaid invoices and causing the RNC not to report more than $7 million in debt in its April and May filings with the Federal Election Commission.
Apparently, deeply moved by that experience, Randy Pullen refused to sign off on the RNC’s latest FEC report (filed July 20) without assurances from the Steele faction of the RNC that pertinent information had not once again been concealed from him. That report was filed only after the following “affidavit of disclosure” was furnished to Pullen by Steele’s chief-of-staff Leavitt and RNC attorney Tom Josefiak, a former FEC chairman:
As of July 19, 2010, I hereby affirm that all invoices received or payments owed on contracts by the Republican National Committee on or before June 15, 2010 have been shown or disclosed to Randy Pullen, elected Treasurer of the Republican National Committee and that to the best of my knowledge and belief there are no others.
That’s an extraordinary document. That Pullen was able to demand, and Leavitt and Josefiak agreed to furnish, such an affidavit certainly lends a great deal to credence to Pullen’s previous allegations (which the Steele camp has continued to repudiate in public).
But now, once again, Randy Pullen is not a happy camper at all:
…the treasurer was preparing to inform budget committee members for the first time that he had uncovered on July 22 “approximately $700,000 to $1 million in undisclosed expenditures, some dating back to March.”
The amount comes in addition to more than $7 million in debts that were not reported to the FEC for April and May. Mr. Pullen filed amended returns with the FEC last month and notified the RNC budget panel.
“On a subsequent check run last week, I identified additional invoices that need to be reviewed,” Mr. Pullen wrote in his newest note, adding that this “is likely to require additional amendments” to the financial reports that party treasurers are required to file monthly with the FEC.
The war of words is already in full swing again. This time, the Steele faction tried some preemptive intimidation:
The vicious infighting at the Republican National Committee escalated over the weekend, with an ally of RNC Chairman Michael S. Steele warning the party’s treasurer of legal consequences if he did not stop making a fuss over erroneous financial disclosures to the Federal Election Commission.
New Mexico RNC member Patrick J. Rogers told Treasurer Randy Pullen on committee letterhead that his disclosures about millions of dollars in unreported debt “are covered by attorney-client privilege or the fiduciary requirements of corporate officers.”
At one point in his letter, Mr. Rogers, who is Mr. Steele’s appointee to the RNC’s powerful executive committee, tells Mr. Pullen that the “dissemination of sensitive information under the circumstances (as I understand them) appears problematic as a legal matter.”
The Rogers letter reached Mr. Pullen on Sunday as the treasurer was preparing to inform budget committee members for the first time that he had uncovered on July 22 “approximately $700,000 to $1 million in undisclosed expenditures, some dating back to March.”
Mr. Rogers sent copies of his letter to fellow executive committee members, in which he accused Mr. Pullen of distributing what he called proprietary information to The Washington Times and other media outlets.
How deeply Pullen was affected by this clumsy and heavy-handed attempt at bullying can be judged from the fact that the last three quotes are from the juicy story The Washington Times published on Monday, replete with verbatim quotes from internal memos.
Pullen, presumably, is perfectly aware that he’s in the catbird seat. It’s a criminal offense to intentionally falsify FEC reports. Thanks to that extraordinary “affidavit of disclosure”, Pullen’s ass is well covered. And there is now a compelling case to be made that the previously corrected “errors” in the April and May reports, and the new errors just revealed, were in fact intentional.
Somebody’s ass is on the line now, and Pullen knows it’s not his.
Look for a quick resignation from Michael Leavitt. But that’s only going to defuse the political situation. And only a little. It’s certainly not going to get him off the hook for the criminal prosecution that may well be coming down the pike.