There is now another instance of potential systematic corruption slowly enveloping the national Republican Party. As summarized by a new report from the Daily Beast, “Last year a number of Republican state parties failed to disclose transfers in the hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions, of dollars, which violates reporting requirements.” These failures to accurately report the transfers of huge sums of money could incur substantial federal fines for the state Republican Parties involved in the situation.
The money that was inaccurately reported includes millions that went through joint fundraising operations, and the initially unreported transfers include some of that money moving to the Republican National Committee. In one example incident, the Rhode Island Republican Party amended an already filed disclosure form to notify federal authorities of transfers to the party totaling over $455,500 from the Trump Victory joint fundraising operation. The Daily Beast explains in reference to the joint fundraising provisions that the “arrangements are legal, but it appears the GOP has used them to secretly pass millions of dollars from Trump Victory to the RNC through apparently oblivious state committees.”
Joint fundraising committees allow political groups to get higher donations than they might otherwise, since limits on individual donors to the joint operation are tabulated via combining the limits of all involved committees. As the Daily Beast explains it, “Because Trump Victory has 48 members, one person can cut a single check equal to the combined contribution limits of all four dozen committees,” and “Trump Victory then distributes that money to the other committees.” There are no limits on the amounts of money that state party committees can transfer to the national party organization, allowing the bulk of contributions to joint fundraising operations to go to national efforts.
Meanwhile, the millions of dollars involved in initially unreported cash transfers between state Republican Parties and the Trump Victory joint fundraising committee go on — the Hawaii GOP, for instance, acknowledged the existence of almost $1.7 million in such transactions earlier this year. Just last month, the Republican Party of Arkansas revealed $3.5 million in transfers with the Trump Victory operation — although the Arkansas GOP has never even officially joined that operation. Arkansas Republicans say that the “transfers were inadvertently not disclosed on the original reports due to clerical errors,” but other state parties haven’t even offered that flimsy of an explanation.
The Republican National Committee itself has included the transfers in their financial disclosures, so was this money getting passed around in the names of state parties without the knowledge of officials who were supposed to be involved? Paul Ryan (not the ex-Congressman), who serves as vice president of policy and litigation at the advocacy group Common Cause, observed to the Daily Beast that “Campaign finance law would be undermined if a state committee was using [a bank] account and not disclosing it, which treasurers must do under penalty of perjury,” adding that the situation “would be even more severe if the RNC was setting up an account and not telling the state party about it.”