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State GOP Gets Repayment Extension

The State Board of Elections has granted a 45-day extension to the cash-strapped Maryland Republican Party to pay $77,500 to a campaign account maintained by Michael S. Steele.

The extension followed a letter in which Robert B. Ostrom, the state GOP's general counsel, seemed to acknowledge the turmoil within the party's leadership ranks. On Saturday, the party's executive committee voted 20 to 10 to express "no confidence" in Chairman James Pelura, who has refused to resign.

"Currently, the Maryland Republican Party is dealing with a number of serious internal matters which will prevent the Party from being able to provide a satisfactory response within the time frame set out in your letter," Ostrom wrote last week to a state board official.

A June 23 order gave the state GOP 30 days to reimburse an account maintained by Steele, the state's former lieutenant governor and the current chairman of the Republican National Committee.

The bulk of the money in question stems from legal work done for the state GOP in 2002 on a redistricting fight. Steele, who was chairman of the Maryland party at the time, authorized the work.

According to the State Board of Elections, $75,000 from Steele's state account, which he maintained as lieutenant governor, was used to pay off the party's outstanding legal fees. Such a large transfer would have been permissible, the board ruled, if Steele had been closing out his state campaign account. But he did not and made no effort to do so, according to the board.

By John Wagner  |  July 21, 2009; 5:16 PM ET
Categories:  John Wagner  
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