Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Government Influence Peddling Ways to Continue

My representative stands a good chance of being appointed to the powerful House Ways & Means Committee post election. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) is on the short list in part due to his catch of the National Republican Congressional Committee accounting scandal.

TheHill reported incorrectly on the unveiling of the scandal. It was Mike Conaway's insistence that he meet in person with the external auditor that caused Treasurer Chris Ward to capitulate. It was a full year after Mike's appointment as Chair of the Audit Committee. The fake annual audits began in 2002 and ran through 2006. Mr. Ward likely wanted to continue the ruse, but needed another live body to pull it off. With no real external auditor, Chris confessed. This prompted the FBI investigation.

Rather than ask why NRCC leadership and governance went five years without a real external audit, the media swallowed the Executive Committee's swill. They offered, "It was a sophisticated scheme" and "the statements looked authentic" as their defense.

But Mike Conaway got branded a hero, instead of a slow goat. How many clues did he miss during his year as audit chair? Especially as the NRCC changed auditors twice during that time. One normally hears a presentation with the audit firm's proposal. Once selected, key audit activities and time frames are established. I find it unimpressive that a CPA took a year to see something funny. It's an absolute governance travesty that Chris Ward hoodwinked the Executive Committee for over five years. They didn't fulfill the most basic duties of fiduciary oversight, especially in the post Sarbanes-Oxley era.

Rep. Conaway's landing a cushy seat on the House Ways & Means Committee could be good for San Angelo. TheHill says "Fundraising plays a large part in the selection of lawmakers for so-called “A” committees." The Ways & Means Committee has lots of plums to dish out in gratitude for that strong financial support. I'm just not confident the Mike would do so for the betterment of the community vs. his strong Republican supporters. But Mike knows how the game is played. If the accounting scandal were on the other foot, Conaway would be blasting away. Maybe he'll get his chance to protect and to serve. Let's hope it's better than the NRCC's myopic oversight which allowed the pilfering of $1 million in donations.

No comments: