December 5, 2010

LETTER: MCGOP chairman makes bid for MDGOP treasurer; demands financial transparency

As I hope you know, I am a candidate for State Party Treasurer at the State Party Convention on December 11. You are likely to have received an email last Wednesday night from Sharon Carrick of Queen Anne's County requesting that I provide additional details from me about my concerns about MD GOP's past financial transparency.  These are matters I take seriously.   Over the course of my professional career, in addition to being a lawyer, I have served in a variety of financial management positions in both the public and private sector.   My past work includes:  

·         Responsible for providing staff review of New York City's financial plan for the state's Financial Control Board as Assistant Counsel to the New York State Comptroller,
·         Executive at a publicly-held national newspaper and broadcasting company and counsel for and co-owner of a smaller market broadcast property,
·         Managing the technical accounting staff responsible for contractor financial reporting; compliance and financial audits for a $500 million entity, and
·         Serving as the principal staff member for congressional oversight of the federal Inspectors General and Chief Financial Officers as Counsel to the House Subcommittee on Government Management.  

While I appreciate that others may disagree with me, frankly I am not satisfied with the state party’s current status quo.  Given the financial and leadership turmoil the party faced during the past four year and results of the past election, an appeal to continue “past practice” seems out of place.  

Let me provide that information that Sharon requested.  

The attached series of emails below, beginning with Chris Cavey, but then between the incumbent Treasurer  and me highlights one significant aspect of my concerns about the current State Party leadership's continuing lack of transparency and candor with its own board members.   

In July 2009 prior to a critical Executive Committee meeting Chris Cavey encouraged State Executive Committee members to contact the incumbent Treasurer to learn more about the party's financial position.  Yet when I tried to do so, he effectively contradicted Chris Cavey.  At a time when the party leadership needed unvarnished information about our finances, as an Executive Committee member, I could not get the specific detail requested from the Treasurer.  

Yet just a few weeks later I learned that the incumbent Treasurer  was actively contemplating in the making a recommendation that the Maryland State Republican Party consider seek bankruptcy "protection."

Such an action would have placed our party at the complete mercy of a Federal bankruptcy judge. While the court could have left the existing leadership in place, a judge would also have had the full authority to place our state party under the control of a trustee appointed by the court.  In fact, the judge would have had very broad discretion in ordering this external control.  

This could have meant that every single expenditure made by Maryland State Republican Party in this election year would have subject to the control of an outside individual appointed by a judge.  In such an environment, it is hard for me to see how we could ever have done any further fund raising whatsoever. As dire our straits were at the outset of such a process, it could well have only gotten worse.   

A bankruptcy filing would also have presented some significant legal challenges concerning how Federal law would interact with our unique legal status under the Maryland State Election law.  That could have prevented a number of the remedies under bankruptcy law from being used.

There would also have been some significant additional governance challenges to our seeking bankruptcy given the subsidiary status of the Executive Committee and Executive Board to the full State Central Committee.  While a board of directors of corporation can act on its behalf, I do not believe that the two "Executive" entities enjoy a comparable status under state law in relationship to the State Central Committee.   

The political consequences would have been even worse.  Surely Maryland Republicans would have forfeited any credibility as advocates of financial discipline.  

More to the point, though, I do not understand how a Treasurer can go from declining to share requested financial information with a board member  immediately prior to a critical meeting taking up leadership issues to only a few weeks later exploring bankruptcy as an option.  

The State Party Treasurer’s responsibilities are much broader than that of a bookkeeper or financial record keeper.  Given both the compliance environment the party exists in and our party’s history of running afoul of those requirements,  our Treasurer should better understand the legal consequences of the choices we consider.  Second, the Treasurer needs to effectively communicate the party financial circumstances to all its stakeholders.      

Mark Uncapher
Montgomery County Republican Chairman

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