Michael Steele's Latest Screw-Up Is a Different Degree of Serious

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The Washington Times' Ralph Z. Hallow reports on a brewing feud within the RNC -- one that may have more significant consequences than Chairman Michael Steele's previous gaffes. RNC Treasurer Randy Pullen has accused Steele of concealing over $7 million of debt in the committee's filings with the FEC.

Pullen claims that Steele instructed his staff not to provide the treasurer with financial information, leading Pullen to file reports with the FEC that excluded $3.3 million of debt in April and $3.8 million in May. He has since amended the reports. The RNC's June filing, submitted yesterday, shows outstanding debts of more than $2 million.

Depending on how the FEC responds, the consequences for the RNC could be severe. Steele may have brushed off verbal missteps, but a multimillion dollar lawsuit would be a different story altogether:

Campaign-finance analysts said that simply misreporting fundraising numbers to the FEC can lead to millions of dollars in fines and that criminal charges can be levied if the actions are suspected to be intentional.

"This is significant because the civil penalties could mean big fines that take a significant bite out of the RNC's finances close to the November congressional elections, when state parties need the RNC's financial help for their 'victory' programs," said former FEC Commissioner Hans A. von Spakovsky. ...

The Washington Times also has learned that former Federal Election Commission Chairman Michael E. Toner has been retained as outside counsel to the RNC, a move Mr. von Spakovsky called unusual and significant.

Read the full story at the Washington Times.

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Nicole Allan is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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