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House Republicans Contact FBI Over Financial Irregularities

By Paul Kane
The FBI has been notified and asked to investigate allegations of financial fraud at a fund-raising arm of the House Republicans, capping a week of bad news for the beleaguered minority party.

In a statement today, Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.), the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said he contacted law enforcement after an internal audit revealed that a former employee of the committee had been involved in the "irregularities."

"Since these irregularities may include fraud, we have notified appropriate law enforcement authorities. We are aggressively and thoroughly investigating the matter," Cole said.

Sources confirmed that the FBI was the agency contacted to investigate the allegations. Aides at the Federal Election Commission said they were not aware of any complaint or request for an investigation by the NRCC.

NRCC staff were tight lipped about the case, declining to say how much money was involved or the nature of the fraud. The former employee, whose name was not revealed, had left the NRCC and had been working this past year as an outside vendor, until this week's revelations.

Fraud and embezzlement from political committees is an increasingly common occurrence. In the past decade Sens. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) and Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), former senator Trent Lott (R-Miss.), House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) all have had their political committees raided by rogue aides.

The news of fraud at the NRCC finished a very bad stretch for House Republicans. Beginning last Thursday, five veteran GOP incumbents announced they were retiring at the end of this year, opening up two or three very ripe seats for the Democrats to eye in the fall elections. In addition, the NRCC's year-end financial report showed it had $5 million in its campaign accounts, as of Dec. 31, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee held $35 million.

Here's the full statement from Cole:

"As part of our ongoing efforts to institute and strengthen financial controls at the National Republican Congressional Committee, we learned earlier this week of irregularities in our financial audit process. Since these irregularities may include fraud, we have notified appropriate law enforcement authorities. We are aggressively and thoroughly investigating the matter and, while we determine the details, have terminated our relationship with a former employee who had been engaged as an outside vendor."

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 1, 2008; 7:01 PM ET
 
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