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State GOP Told To Repay Steele

State elections officials have directed the Maryland Republican Party, which has been struggling to pay off debts, to reimburse $77,500 to a state campaign account maintained by Michael S. Steele, the state's former lieutenant governor and the current chairman of the Republican National Committee.

The June 23 order, which gave the state GOP a month to make the payment, comes amid growing pressure on the party's current chairman, James Pelura, to step down.

The bulk of the money in question, which was first reported in today's Baltimore Sun, 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 was closing out his state campaign account. But he did not and made no effort to do so, according to the board.

The party has also argued that Steele's payment was an in-kind contribution to a party "administrative account," which is not subject to the same kind of limits as other contributions. But the board did not accept that explanation either.

Letters to both Steele and the state GOP said the questionable transfers were discovered during routine audits of political committees.

By John Wagner  |  July 10, 2009; 12:26 PM ET
Categories:  John Wagner  
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I hate to bring this up, but can a political party (i.e. MD GOP) go financially bankrupt (state level) if they have already declared themselves morally bankrupt (nationally)?


Posted by: free-donny | July 10, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

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