The secret weapon that Greg Walden never tried.

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

In a front page Oregonian story today, Congressman Greg Walden tries to tapdance away from blame in the NRCC auditing scandal.

First, a recap for those new to the story: The FBI is investigating the loss of at least a million dollars from the campaign operation for US House Republicans. It's alleged that a contract committee treasurer faked audit reports for the members of Congress overseeing the operation. Among those involved? Our very own GOP Congressman Greg Walden, who chaired the audit committee while the fraud was perpetrated, right under his nose.

In today's O, Walden tries to explain:

The audits appeared authentic and trustworthy, Rep. Greg Walden said. So did the National Republican Campaign Committee's well-known treasurer.

Senior Republicans had vouched for Chris Ward, who served as the committee's treasurer from 2003 until he was fired Jan. 28. Eighty-three of the Republicans had hired Ward to manage their own campaign finances.

Ward "was the gold standard," Walden said in an interview Friday. "They all said there's no one better; he's the expert." ...

Walden and other Republicans involved in the committee and its finances insist they are victims of a sophisticated operation that produced fake audits so good "even the banks were fooled."

Now, that's fine, if it helps Walden sleep at night. But it's completely bogus.

After all, if you're the chair of the audit committee for an organization, it's clearly a bit odd if you never get a chance to meet the auditors that you've hired. Especially if that pattern goes on for years. Walden, after all, was the audits chair from 2003 to 2006.

Sure, he tries to explain it away:

Walden said he asked Ward repeatedly to set up a meeting with outside auditors to discuss the reports. "There was always a reason they couldn't meet -- timing, scheduling. It was one thing after another," Walden said.

But given Ward's reputation, Walden said he believed the problem was with the auditors, not his trusted treasurer. He continued to believe that when he left the audit committee at the end of 2006. He relayed his concerns about the delays, however, to Rep. Tom Conway of Arkansas [sic]

[Note: There is no Congressman Tom Conway of Arkansas. The guy we're talking about is Congressman Mike Conaway of Texas, a former CPA. The Oregonian completely flubbed that detail.]

So, how did Congressman Conaway finally break this gigantic scandal? How did he uncover this massive fraud? How did he discover that the NRCC's treasurer had faked audits for years?

Telephone_2Conaway, a caped crusader to be sure, tried something radical, something astonishing, something SOOOO creative that Greg Walden couldn't possibly be expected to have tried it.

Conaway picked up the phone. And called the number on the fake audit's letterhead.

From the AP, via the Houston Chronicle:

He and his fellow audit committee members, Reps. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. and Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Fla., immediately called the accounting firm they thought had been hired to audit the committee's finances. "They never heard of us," Conaway said.

And from the Midland Reporter-Telegram, Conaway's hometown paper:

"[Ward] had picked this CPA firm out of the phone book and they had never had any contact with him. That started the ruckus."


Not only did Greg Walden fail to meet with the auditing firm before they hired them, he failed to meet with them for three straight years, and when he tried - oh, how he tried - to get a meeting... he never bothered to pick up the phone and call direct.

It's a telephone, Greg. Just pick it up and dial.

You could have saved your party a million dollars. You could have been a hero. You could have been a contender.

  • SDG (unverified)

    At least this appears to clear Walden of any implication of being the robo-caller of the 2006 elections. He can't work a phone.

  • John-Mark Gilhousen (unverified)

    And this is the guy the "experts" have been telling us is invincible. The campaign ads this cycle in District 2 write themselves. Time for him to work for the Broadcasting lobby full time... Oh, I forgot... far all intents and purposes, he already has.

  • (Show?)

    If there is a God in Heaven, the rumor about Walden planning a run for Gov in the next cycle is about to come to an abrupt stop.

  • Pat Malach (unverified)

    Maybe the bankrupt Oregon GOP forgot to pay Walden's phone bill and it got shot off.

  • Missy (unverified)

    Actually, if there is a God in Heaven, the rumor about Walden planning a run for Gov next cycle WILL come to pass.

    There clearly is a God in Heaven, and he clearly has a taste for irony. Did you see how Walden blamed the attention now coming his way on those big, bad Democwats?

    From the O:

    "It took Walden's successor only one year to solve a problem Walden couldn't figure out in three," said Marc Siegel, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Oregon. "How can Oregonians trust Greg Walden to stand up for them when he can't even stand up to his own accountant?"

    Walden, who says he feels "very betrayed, very angry," dismisses the Democrats' claims. "They never miss a chance at a cheap shot that's misinformed."

    This from the guy who all of last year used every Republican talking point calling the Democratic-run Congress "do-nothing" and the "worst ever" with a straight face even AFTER voting repeatedly against S-CHIP.

    Praise to God's faithful disciple, Kari, for posting this.

  • (Show?)

    Kari scoops the "O" again.

  • (Show?)

    Hmmm... I wouldn't say I scooped 'em - that would imply doing original reporting. I'm just a guy paying attention to other newspapers.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)

    Walden will be in Prineville today at noon speaking to the Rotary (he never talks to ordinary folks).

    I think I heard he'll be talking about fiscal responsibility during our current rough economic times, or some such thing.

    He has always talked a "big" one, and done "little".

  • Darrell Fuller (unverified)

    Well, I did learn something from this thread. Some progressives (I won't lump you all together) apparently don't believe Rotarians are ordinary folks. Donating time, money and effort to help your community is just too weird for Mr. Bucknum, eh? Hmmm. I guess he's right. Rotarians are EXTRAordinary. LOL.

  • DPO (unverified)

    The Democratic Party of Oregon has been pursuing this story for weeks, questioning Walden's role in this scandal. Read more here and here.

  • JTT (unverified)

    I heard this story on OPB this morning on the drive in and I have to admit that my first reaction was...jeez, the partisans really are making a mountain out of molehill...clearly these cons were really good and they fooled everyone. There was even a part of the OPB story that said something like: "even the experts agree that Rep. Walden didn't do anything wrong".

    Well, I have to say after reading Kari's post this morning...that's pretty shitty reporting by OPB and the Oregonian. Perhaps someone over at OPB and the Oregonian should be reading this thread and wondering..."hmmm, I wonder if we should ask Rep. Walden why he couldn't pick up a phone to call the auditors that he really tried hard to get a meeting with? In fact, maybe we should ask Rep. Walden how hard he tried to get a meeting with the auditors if he never picked up the phone to call them. Maybe we should ask Walden how serious he took his role as chair of the audit committee if he couldn't bother to pick up the phone."

    Well OPB/ about asking some tough questions? Or maybe that would be too difficult, as it would actually require a reporter to pick up the phone and make a telephone call to the Congressman. Anyone else see the irony?

  • (Show?)

    This is great stuff. Who knew that Greg Walden was an even bigger bozo than any of us thought?!

    Thanks Kari!

  • (Show?)

    This is great stuff. Kari, I haven't been able to follow the recent filings as closely as I should have. Does Walden have a serious challenger in D2?

    This news about Walden doesn't exist in a vacuum, either. Kevin Mannix is being questioned about the $347k (as noted above), but he's always been one dodgy accounting practice away from criminal activity (he was exonerated in an earlier case the WW described as "legal money laundering" because Oregon law was so loose).

    I would like to see some ads running about the general level of corruption in the Oregon GOP. Gordon Smith certainly wouldn't like to see those ads...

  • (Show?)

    There is a difference between "doing something wrong" (illegal), and being completely incompetent moronic fools that one should not trust to handle your lunch money, much less the federal government.

    So let's all give props to the other half of the GOP - the guys who merely enable the swindlers rather than being swindlers themselves: "We're glad you're not actually, technically, crooks".

  • Dan Becker (unverified)
    <h2>Sabrina Shrake of Christmas Valley, Lake County and Noah Lemas of Bend, Deschutes County. Have filed to run in the Democratic Primary. Lets make them serious candidates and get rid of Walden</h2>

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