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GOP Embezzler Claims Another Victim

We were given a pretty good idea of how much money Christopher Ward allegedly embezzled from the National Republican Congressional Committee, after the committee released an audit two weeks ago showing the former treasurer appears to have taken $725,000 from its coffers over a six-year span. The audit further revealed that the National Republican Senatorial Committee also lost at least $28,000.

But Ward served as treasurer of dozens of other GOP committees as well, and news of more victims keeps trickling out -- even going beyond the continental United States. The latest: Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño (R), who reports a loss of $40,000 and thus now reigns as the biggest individual victim so far in the scandal.

On Friday, Fortuño's political action committee, the Leading Us in Success PAC, quietly filed 23 amended reports with the Federal Election Commission, with some going all the way back to 2005. The new reports show four different payments to Ward in 2007 now classified as "unauthorized disbursements" for a total of $40,000.

It's not clear why Fortuño amended reports from 2005 and 2006, since those new reports don't appear to show any inappropriate payments to Ward. Fortuño's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

For the record, LUIS PAC is at least the seventh committee (other than the NRCC and the NRSC) to report suspected theft by Ward, with their combined losses now exceeding $100,000. The total includes the five committees listed in this chart plus Rep. Phil English's (R-Pa.) PAC. After Fortuño, the second biggest individual victim so far is Rep. James Walsh (R-N.Y.), whose PAC reported a $20,000 loss.

By Ben Pershing  |  June 24, 2008; 7:00 PM ET
Categories:  Ethics and Rules , Fundraising Circuit  
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