The Minneapolis Star Tribune broke a story yesterday about the CEO of a company the state GOP formed to pay the lawyers for the 2010 recount. Funny thing, the CEO says he didn't know he was CEO, or that the company existed --- and he's the second CEO to say that:
This past winter, George Fraley got a certified letter from a Republican attorney demanding payment of more than $219,000 in overdue legal fees from the 2010 gubernatorial recount.It would not be fair to characterize what the MNGOP did as a pattern of mismanagement, so please stop. That's not fair at all. Fraud is not the same as mismanagement, OK?
There were two problems: The letter listed Fraley as CEO of a company he'd never heard of -- Count Them All Properly Inc. Second, he never agreed to bankroll the recount for Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer.
"This has been, without a doubt, one of the screwiest things that has ever happened in my life," said Fraley, who is not politically active and who has no ties to the GOP.
Fraley's fight to get his name removed from the corporate filings for Count Them All Properly is coming to light as state regulators and a watchdog group are probing whether the company was created chiefly to keep debt off the books of the state Republican Party, which owes creditors $2 million, including recount debt.
Sure it's possible both Fraley and the other CEO who never heard of the company, Jon Schroeder, are making up the same story. We don't know with any certainty what the truth is, at least not yet. If they're telling the truth though, then someone listed them as CEOs without asking them. If they had no political ties, were their names pulled out of a phone book? Randomly collected first and last names? A dart board?
The company was incorporated by Daniel Puhl, who works for the RNC (is this thing going national now?) who says he knows nothing about the draftee CEOs. The new CEO is Mary Igo, who says the company has nothing to hide even though it refuses to reveal anything (bolding mine):
"It is legitimate, it was not a hiding opportunity for debt," said Mary Igo, the company's newly listed chief executive and a veteran GOP activist.Does the GOP really need the headquarters it's being evicted from? Sounds like they run things from the boiler room.
The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board is investigating Count Them All Properly as part of its inquiry into the state Republican Party.
For regulators, watchdog groups and those owed money, it has been unclear who had been in charge of Count Them All Properly.
In the last two years, Count Them All Properly has listed two CEOs, both of whom say they have never heard of the company. Count Them All Properly has no corporate office, no phone number and no website. It does, however, have roughly $500,000 in debt, mostly to recount lawyers.
Igo would not say exactly how she came to be in charge of the company, other than to say she received a call after the election from someone asking her to head the company.
Igo, who was never a strong Emmer backer, declined to reveal who reached out to her. She said she has never been paid for her work with Count Them All Properly.
The company's makeup remains a mystery. After Fraley and his lawyers complained, a correction was filed with the state to replace him with Igo as CEO. The company is not required to list a board of directors, and Igo declined to name them.
No wonder when seeking a new chair the Republicans picked someone who had worked for Enron. They used a miniature version of Enron accounting, creating a separate entity to keep debts off the books:
Former state GOP Chairman Tony Sutton said lawyers suggested that it would be best to create a separate company to handle the recount, similar to what's been done in other recounts.The head of the party wasn't let in on the creation of another entity to take on the party's debts? About that statement that this was done in other recounts, pardon me for being skeptical about that.
Although he was the head of the party at the time, Sutton said he did not play a key role in starting Count Them All Properly and learned that Igo was in charge only after it was created.
The Sutton reference reminds me of a bit of context, namely how Sutton went into the recount saying "we're not going to get rolled again". If the Republicans didn't believe their own propaganda about Mark Ritchie and Al Franken stealing the 2008 Senate recount, they sure acted like they believed it, mainge groundless charges of fraud, and taking over the lawyering-up duties from the Emmer campaign despite, apparently, having no money to pay. Funny, I noticed in that article from the start of the recount no references to some company being responsible for the debts. This was the party's party.
This last paragraph of the Star Tribune article seems less than guaranteed to reassure GOP creditors:
"They will be repaid, in some way, I hope. God willing," she [Igo] said. "Republicans would prefer to pay debts back, even if it takes some time."Well, isn't that nice, they "prefer" to pay their debts. Can't help thinking of the many times they cast doubt on the federal government repaying its debts, even though it's never missed a payment (despite the Republicans doing their very best to force it to miss). But yes, they "prefer" to pay their debts, "God willing", which I think translates as, "We'd like to pay our debts, but if we don't, it apparently was God's will we not do so. Oh well." Sure, and next time misfortune puts you behind on a debt, see if saying you "prefer" to pay your debts gets you anything from Republicans other than a scolding for taking on more than you could afford so you deserve to be busted and homeless you useless welcher.
cross posted at MN Progressive Project