Washington Babylon — March 12, 2008, 2:40 pm

Bowling and the G.O.P.

Remember that financial scandal at the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC)? The one that involves all sorts of apparent financial improprieties and lots of money missing from the NRCC’s coffers?

A recent story in Roll Call said that “the forensic audit and legal fees involved in the scandal might cost the [NRCC] hundreds of thousands of dollars,” and an official with the Committee, when asked if the cost might hit $1 million, replied only: “We certainly hope not.” This is especially bad news for the NRCC given how hard up it has been for cash, and that it just shelled out more than $1 million in an unsuccessful effort to hold on to former House Speaker Denny Hastert’s Illinois House seat.

The man at the center of the scandal is Christopher Ward, a former NRCC treasurer who also founded a firm called Political Compliance Services. A review of FEC records finds that Ward frequently teamed up with a fundraising company called Aventum LLC, whose founder and president is Hetaf al-Kraydi, another former NRCC employee. For example, during the 2005-2006 election cycle, Congressman Jerry Weller paid Aventum over $111,000 and Political Compliance Services about $8,000. During the same period, Congressman Rodney Alexander paid Aventum some $46,000 and Political Compliance Services nearly $22,000.

The tag team of Ward and Aventum hasn’t always worked out so well for those who hired them. In 2006 a joint fundraising committee called Bowling for Our Majority Committee (BOMP), was created by former Congressman John Sweeney to save seven endangered House Republicans. It raised over $40,000, including $9,000 from the Wine and Spirit Wholesalers of America and $5,000 from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Aventum received about $28,000 of the money raised and Ward got paid $800. The seven House Republicans who were supposed to benefit, however, received $1,445.45 apiece.

I emailed Kraydi to ask about her firm’s relationship with Ward and other matters. If I hear back from her I’ll update this story.

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I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

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