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Audit Trouble At NRCC

A former employee acting as an outside vendor is suspected of fraud by the National Republican Congressional Committee, chairman Tom Cole said in a statement released this afternoon. Without going into details, Cole said the NRCC has notified authorities of its suspicions.

"We learned earlier this week of irregularities in our financial audit process," Cole said in the statement. "We are aggressively and thoroughly investigating the matter and, while we determine the details, have terminated our relationship" with the ex-employee.

A Republican with knowledge of the investigation told Politico, and Politics Nation has confirmed, the FBI has been contacted about the possible fraud.

Update: A Republican source tells Politics Nation that the investigation is focused on Chris Ward, who served last cycle as comptroller at the NRCC. This cycle, the committee had been using Ward as a vendor who handled their reports with the Federal Election Commission, paying him at least $37,500 during 2007.

Ward has also served as treasurer for campaign committees and leadership PACs including those of Reps. Jim Walsh, Jim Saxton, Peter Roskam, Lamar Smith and Denny Rehberg as well as Senator John Ensign's leadership PAC.

The NRCC would not comment on the investigation, though the source, who is outside the committee, characterized the fraud as severe. Details of exactly what is being investigated is unclear. A call to Ward's home, which matched the address listed in the NRCC's FEC reports, went unanswered and the message unreturned.