The party says it can't afford to come clean. OK, then. We'll pick up the tab.
The Republican Party of Minnesota seems to have adopted its own policy of "don't ask, don't tell" when it comes to investigating its multimillion-dollar financial mismanagement scandal.
A number of weeks ago, the party's finance chairman, Bill Guidera, challenged me, stating: "If you want a forensic audit of the RPM financial books, why don't you pay for it?"
Minnesota voters would agree that we need a two-party system to maintain the checks and balances necessary for good governance. When one political party dominates state politics, it often spells economic turmoil.
What's perplexing is the lack of interest at the state party offices in conducting a forensic audit. You would think that members of the party would be demanding accountability from those who held fiduciary responsibility over their finances. The party is reported to have amassed a debt of more than $2.3 million.
Party leaders said they investigated the problems and, on May 7, issued a report saying they could find no illegality. The 20-page report from the party's Budget, Financial Controls and Oversight Committee went to great lengths to point out that although calls were made for a forensic audit, no audit of any kind was completed. Rather, there was a review of 11 specific party transactions.
However, on July 13, the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board leveled fines exceeding $33,000 and acknowledged a possible criminal violation. Even the most partisan Republican should find this troubling and demand a forensic audit.
The Republican Party of Minnesota must prove to the state's voters that it is not engaged in a cover-up. Remember, it's not the act of wrongdoing but the cover-up that always brings you down. The party's executive board has instead taken the "don't ask, don't tell" position, insisting the party is broke and can't afford a forensic audit.
The Campaign Finance Board ruling raises troubling questions: Why is the party really refusing to conduct an audit? Will an audit uncover more alleged civil or criminal wrongdoing? Will it implicate more GOP leaders, including officeholders past and present? Would it expose additional Federal Election Commission violations? Will it expose graft, political payoffs or outright corruption? Will more GOP lobbyists or major donors be implicated?
People who have nothing to hide do not object to a thorough investigation.
Mr. Guidera, it is time we clean and sanitize our GOP house and drain the swamp. So I take up your challenge.
A group of concerned Republicans will personally raise the money necessary to conduct a thorough and transparent forensic audit of the Republican Party of Minnesota financial books dating back to 2007.
We have established Minnesota Republicans for Financial Accountability and Justice LLC to solicit funds for that purpose. Anyone is welcome to donate, be they Republicans, Democrats or independents. You can donate either via P.O. Box 22306, Eagan, MN 55122-0306, or on our website, www.mnrepublicans forfinancialjustice.com, using PayPal.
Our objective is simple: to restore fiscal honesty and transparency to the Republican Party of Minnesota, and to hold those who had fiduciary responsibility for party finances accountable.
We will choose the firm to conduct the audit and produce a transparent finding to the party. The LLC will cover all the audit expenses. We will also allow the current party treasurer to observe the forensic audit process.
There is, however, a time limit on our offer. The party must accept our terms and turn over the books no later than Aug. 15 to allow adequate time for the forensic audit to be conducted prior to this fall's election. If the party does not comply, we withdraw our offer and will return the money donated.
Common sense says this is an offer that can't be turned down by anyone who has nothing to hide. Will the party accept, or will it risk more negative publicity and a major voter backlash in November? The court of public opinion is watching.
Joe Repya is a retired U.S. Army officer, Republican activist and former candidate for party chair.
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