By Jack Russell
Today, Politico broke news of a recently released internal document that could possibly implicate the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) in an improper campaign finance scheme. The confidential report, which warned RSLC leadership of “possible criminal penalties” for what appears to be a financial “white washing” scheme, was prepared by the D.C. law firm BakerHostetler.
The report is the result of a RSLC internal investigation into “alleged misconduct” by leaders within the group who conspired improperly with a state party to use the RSLC as a pass-through for controversial donations, essentially laundering money from group who state parties and candidates considered “toxic” – routing the cash out to the RSLC and directly back to the state party.
According to Politico, a specific case involving the Alabama Republican Party triggered the investigation and accusations:
The RSLC has faced no legal or criminal consequences in connection with its Alabama activities. But the RSLC report’s conclusions — furiously contested at the time and firmly denied to this day by three officials named in the report — inflamed an explosive internal confrontation at the organization.
In North Dakota, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has been the recipient of very large RSLC donations. In 2013, RSLC cash accounted for over 70% of all campaign contributions to Stenehjem’s coffers. According to the North Dakota Secretary of State, a single $150,000 donation from the RSLC on December 19, 2013 left Stenehjem with $211,841 in donations for the year.
A December 2013 donation of $150K from the Republican State Leadership Committee to ND AG Wayne Stenehjem accounted for over 70% of his campaign donations for the entire year.
While there has been no investigation into the original source of the RSLC donations to Stenehjem, the group’s prior activities do tend to call into question the source of the large sum of cash. Money laundering of this type allows a candidate to distance themselves from otherwise unpopular sources. Taking cash donations directly from sources like big tobacco, big oil or gambling could be seen as ‘political suicide’. Using the RSLC as a source to white wash the cash would be tempting – and likely illegal.
Interestingly, the amount of the Alabama donation that sparked the original investigation, and eventual internal shake-up at the RSLC, was $150,000.
H/T – Jeff Stevens from The Everlasting GOP Stoppers
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