IToday, the New York Times reports that Christopher J. Ward, former Treasurer, stole $725,000 from The National Republican Congressional Committee. “The thefts are both embarrassing and painful for the committee, which has been struggling to raise money for what is expected to be a tough year …”
Now, where would a senior Republican campaign official get the idea that it was OK to steal $725,000?
Well, for one: it is a tough time to be a Republican. You have to talk fiscal conservatism while nothing around you vaguely resembles it.
When George W. Bush came to office, he pledged an orderly White House, not like Clinton’s whose staff walked away from the Executive Office Building having removed the W key from a bunch of keyboards and assorted mischief. A 2002 GAO report totaled the damage estimate at about $20,000.
But grifting $725,000, from your own Republican Party? Maybe Mr. Ward thought it was a drop in the bucket and no one would notice, like the $800 million missing in Iraq of taxpayer money we sent there in George W. Bush’s war, or the $7 billion no-bid contract to Halliburton as a result, the company Vice President Dick Cheney ran back in the day.
After all, Mr. Ward likely read the same news reports that we did, about Halliburton overcharging the Pentagon for fuel deliveries into Iraq.
A recent BBC investigation has estimated the amount of money stolen, lost or not properly accounted for in Iraq as high as $23 billion.
In a 60 Minutes broadcast, the former Iraqi Finance Minister Ali Allawi said “most of the money simply disappeared.”
In the United States, top financial executives of Wall Street firms—99 percent Republican—are walking away from billions of losses and pocketing hundreds of millions in compensation on the way out the door. The next thing you know, oil smuggling in Iraq will cost the Iraqi government billions of dollars and fund the insurgency.
In case you haven’t been paying attention: that is happening, too.
Under such conditions of moral hazard, why wouldn’t Christopher J. Ward look at his little piece of the pie as a rounding error to “remodel and pay the mortgage on his home in Bethesda, MD.” I’m not saying this is what Mr. Ward felt, but God: when the dog is messing up the living room furniture and you’re only making $120,000 and you’re treasure for the President’s Dinner Committee, “the party’s biggest annual fund-raising event”, but paid only $10,000 for your trouble. Well, enough is enough. Yes we can!
It’s tough being a poor Republican.
ALAN FARAGO lives in south Florida. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org