[Washington Babylon ]Bowling and the G.O.P. | Harper's Magazine

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[Washington Babylon]

Bowling and the G.O.P.

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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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