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State GOP Granted Installment Plan to Repay Steele

Republican Party

The cash-strapped Maryland Republican Party already had been given a 45-day extension on repaying $75,000 that the State Board of Elections said it owed Michael S. Steele. Today came another concession: The state board agreed to let the GOP pay under an installment plan.

Given the "extraordinary circumstances" of the state GOP's finances, the state board will allow the party to make monthly payments to Steele, said Jared DeMarinis, director of the board's candidacy and campaign finance division.

"A full repayment was not something that could be done at this time," DeMarinis said. "They're having a very onerous time with their revenue stream."

On June 23 the GOP was ordered to to reimburse a state campaign account maintained by Steele, the state's former lieutenant governor and the current chairman of the Republican National Committee. The party was given a 30-day deadline, and then a 45-day extension.

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 and later covered the cost with money from his campaign account. The state board determined the transfer was not permissible.

Under today's tentative agreement, the state party will have to repay an amount equivalent to 15 percent of its gross revenues each month. An exemption was made for the first $15,000 the party raises -- the amount needed to pay two staffers and cover the rent, DeMarinis said.

If the party is not making a good-faith effort, the board retains the right to refer the matter to the state prosecutor, he added.

As part of the agreement, the board decided to allow the party to keep another $2,500 contribution from Steele for which it also had been seeking repayment.

By John Wagner  |  September 8, 2009; 3:18 PM ET
Categories:  John Wagner , Republican Party  
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Chairman Jim Pelura (and his wife) have been open to new voices in the Republican Party in Maryland. Sadly, Michael Steele hasn't helped Pelura clear this 2002 accounting oddity from when Steele was chairman. Pelura now leads the weakest Republican Party in the United States and the national chairman (from Maryland, no less) won't even help whom now sits in his old seat.

If Michael Steele wants to help elect Republicans nationally, then he needs to start by helping Pelura, rather than hurting the entire Party in Maryland. This ongoing story is an embarrassment for Maryland Republicans and the news media has every right to cover it at length because it speaks of bold difficulties for Maryland Republicans. For Pelura to continue to volunteer in his job as chairman is a testament to his character!

Posted by: DANIELVOVAK | September 8, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

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