Sunday, September 16, 2007

Pat's Peeps: Sexual harasser, bilker of seniors, Scott Stewart

[This is the first in a series of posts about the people closest to NC Congressman Pat McHenry, (R-11). Logo by Zombie Birdhouse.]

According to the Washington DC Recorder of Deeds, (you must register to search), from 2/27/2001 to 1/9/2002, Patrick T McHenry co-owned a residence in Washington DC with Scott G Stewart, pictured below left, former chair of the College Republication National Committee 1999-2003.

There are dozens of links to a variety of articles about three women who filed charges of sexual harassment (and misappropriation of funds) against Scott in January 2001, a month before Pat and he bought that DC home together.

The investigation was delayed for months but eventually the RNC demanded that Stewart apologize. Yeah, that'll do it.

Then, as chair of the CRNC, Stewart presided over the most despicable tactics against seniors (in their 80s and 90s) to raise money (at least $6.3 million). And the worst of it: the bulk (90 percent) of the bilked funds went to the vendor or expenses.

No word on whether he was expected to apologize for this one to the dozens of seniors who gave all of their money and had to scrounge for living expenses.

But Pat didn't let any of that impede their relationship. I'll start with the sexual harassment charges:

According to the Associated Press:
Jennifer Gorski, Kathleen Kirst and Youmna Salameh alleged in affidavits that Stewart made frequent unwanted sexual advances and regularly spoke obscenely to and about female employees. They also alleged Stewart authorized the use of several thousand dollars in GOP funds to pay for his and others' personal expenses, such as cellular telephone bills, plane tickets and campaign mailings.

Gorski was an office manager who was fired by Stewart last year. Kirst was an intern in 1999. Salameh worked at another RNC-affiliated organization next door to the college Republicans.

Their accusations did not result in Stewart's ouster at a college Republicans meeting in New Orleans in mid-November, so they took their sworn statements to the Republican National Committee in January.

In mid-February, the RNC promised prompt action but then postponed the case by referring its six-week inquiry to the law firm.
But they did come to a decision in April, long after Stewart had been reelected to anther two-year term as head College Repugnican. According to the AP, all Scott needed to do was apologize. Yeah, that'll do it:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican Party is allowing the head of its college recruitment arm, accused of sexually harassing female colleagues and misusing party funds, to keep his job with an apology.

The Republican National Committee said Wednesday it found no evidence that the actions of Scott Stewart, who holds the $50,000-a-year post of chairman of the college Republicans organization, met the legal definition of sexual harassment. However, the investigation by the party and an outside law firm concluded Stewart's conduct was ``unprofessional and inappropriate for a work setting.''

The RNC gave Stewart a warning and ordered him to apologize in writing to the three women whose complaints, first reported by The Associated Press, led to the inquiry.

. . .

The RNC provides the College Republican National Committee, which has 1,000 campus chapters and 100,000 members who recruit, register and train students for GOP causes, with office space and a majority of its $200,000-a-year budget.

Stewart, who previously denied what he called "frivolous'' allegations, said in a statement he was relieved the investigation was over. He did not return calls requesting further comment.
That was in April, 2001. But the delays over the prosecution of this case were reported as six weeks old as early as February 2001. Hard to believe McHenry didn't know about them. This is from USA Today.
WASHINGTON - The Republican National Committee indefinitely delayed action Thursday on allegations that the head of the party's college recruitment arm sexually harassed female colleagues and misused party funds.

The indefinite postponement came a week after the committee said the matter would be resolved quickly.

Three women who presented the RNC with affidavits alleging misconduct said they are happy the party did not dismiss the case but expressed frustration that repeated RNC promises of a swift decision have not been kept.

"As the weeks go by, it is apparent that there is some foot-dragging going on," said Jason Zanetti, the College Republican National Committee's Northeastern caucus chairman, who spoke on the women's behalf.

. . .

The RNC, which provides the college Republicans with office space and about $100,000 a year for operations, was given the affidavits Jan. 10. On Thursday, RNC chief counsel Michael Toner referred the matter to a Virginia law firm with labor expertise, asking in a letter for a comprehensive investigation and a recommended course of action
More on the harassment from American Politics dot com:
The RNC, which finances the CRNC, received copies of the affidavits in January. Meanwhile, Stewart is running for another two-year term as CNRC boss.

Given the allegations of abusive horndogging and financial impropriety, The Doc feels that Stewart should abandon his run for the CNRC and instead run for a high-profile state or federal legislative seat, where he'll feel right at home with his fellow GOP "moralists."
Don't you think Pat is a great guy to move in with his buddy, even though he was getting all that bad publicity? And the bad press wasn't just over harassing women and misappropriating funds (and then apologizing for it).

Pat's friend, Stewart, conned millions of dollars out of seniors

. . . and was so stupid the mail-order company ran off with most of the proceeds!

There are a zillion stories about this even more despicable situation. I'll clip some of the most telling paragraphs. You can follow the links to read more sordid details.

The Seattle Times:
The College Republican National Committee has raised $6.3 million this year through an aggressive and misleading fund-raising campaign that collected money from senior citizens who thought they were giving to the election efforts of President Bush and other top Republicans.

Many of the top donors were in their 80s and 90s. The donors wrote checks — sometimes hundreds and, in at least one case, totaling more than $100,000 — to groups with official sounding-names such as "Republican Headquarters 2004," "Republican Elections Committee" and the "National Republican Campaign Fund."

But all of those groups, according to the small print on the letters, were simply projects of the College Republicans, who collected all of the checks.

And little of the money went to election efforts.

Of the money spent by the group this year, nearly 90 percent went to direct-mail vendors and postage expenses, according to records filed with the Internal Revenue Service.

Some of the elderly donors, meanwhile, wound up bouncing checks and emptying their bank accounts.

"I don't have any more money," said Cecilia Barbier, a 90-year-old retired church council worker in New York City. "I'm stopping giving to everybody. That was all my savings that they got."

Barbier said she "wised up." But not before she made more than 300 donations totaling nearly $100,000 this year, the group's fund-raising records show.

Now, she said, "I'm really scrounging."

Here's more from the Seattle Times article:

"We felt their fund-raising practices were deceptive, to say the least," said George Gunning, former treasurer of the College Republicans.

Gunning said he and two other board members fought to cut ties with Response Dynamics but were blocked by other leaders led by Scott Stewart, the chairman of the College Republicans from 1999 to 2003. As chairman, Stewart was the paid, full-time manager of the organization. Gunning said he was assured that fund-raising tactics would change.

Stewart is the director of Bush's Nevada campaign operation, and campaign officials said he would not be available to comment for this story.

The Times was able to determine the ages of 49 of the top 50 individual donors to the College Republicans. The median age of the donors is 85, and 14 of them are 90 or older.

. . .

"That can't be true"

Donors interviewed this week frequently expressed disbelief when they were told how much they gave to the College Republicans.

"That can't be true," said Francis Lehar, a 91-year-old retired music publisher, when he was told records showed he gave the College Republicans nearly $23,000. "I have donated to dozens of Republican causes. Some of them might be the Republican Party organizations."

The College Republicans had another warning in September 2003, when the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group, issued a report on the explosive fund-raising growth by the College Republicans. The report noted that several elderly donors who were contacted did not appear to know to whom they had given money.

Response Dynamics, its affiliates and other companies related to the fund raising get most of the money raised by the College Republicans.

About $9 million of the College Republicans' reported spending this year appeared to go into fund-raising expenses, according to a Times analysis of reports filed with the IRS.

About $313,000, roughly 3 percent, went for travel, convention expenses and "hospitality." About $210,000 went to payroll expenses, helping pay for campus organizers who have been drumming up support for the GOP ticket among young people.

The large amount of money devoted to fund raising, and the small amount for political activities, is unusual among the top ranks of the burgeoning field of so-called 527 independent political groups.

Look for this Ft Wayne article by scrolling a quarter to half-way down once you click on the link:
Groups returning donations to woman; Senior with dementia doesn't remember writing checks.

An 82-year-old Fort Wayne woman with dementia is getting back more than $38,000 in donations she made - but doesn't remember - to the College Republican National Committee, Republican Strategy Headquarters and affiliated groups. But her family wants more. They want the organizations to change how they solicit for funds.

. . .

CRNC attorney Mackenzie Canter III said paying back the money is not an admission of wrongdoing by his client but because of the "compelling presentation" the woman's dementia affected her judgment in making the donations.

. . .

"Unless they've changed what they're doing, it's not going to affect anybody else but my aunt," Rediger said. "We're still extremely upset about their technique and the number of letters they send."

For example, letters signed by CRNC Chairman Scott Stewart and addressed to their aunt by name, said critical Republican programs would be shut down if she didn't send $200 immediately.

Stewart also wrote: "Rush me back $300 right now . . . if we delay then the Rule of Law may be dead and America may turn into a Communist police state."

Cantor said such letters are "standard, direct-mail process . . . very much in the mainstream.

"The mail is opened in these sorting rooms. These (checks) are deposited and put into an account. The bottom line is we have no way of knowing someone is not competent."

But the family doubts that's true.

"I know they go after people. If (people) donate a little, they aggressively go after them for more," Rediger said.

. . .

The family and The News-Sentinel have been unable to reach anyone from that organization.

Talking Points Memo:
Local and national GOP officials are distancing themselves from a Washington, D.C.-based college Republican group that has used aggressive and misleading tactics to raise millions of dollars from elderly people.
...

The Herald-Sun reported Thursday that the College Republican National Committee has received at least 87 percent of its North Carolina donations from people who list their occupation as retired. Most of those contacted by The Herald-Sun were in their 80s.

This campaign season, the CRNC has raised more than $6.3 million nationally, putting it in the top 15 political groups tracked by the IRS. The group raised $93,280 in North Carolina.

Because the CRNC solicits under different names, such as the National Republican Task Force and the National Republican Victory Campaign, many seniors have donated to the group repeatedly, often several times in a single day or week. Many had made more than 50 donations since January, sometimes totaling thousands of dollars.

When asked about their giving, many of them had little understanding of how much they had donated or where their money was going. The group's high-pressure mailings, which often play on senior citizens' emotions, suggest that the money would help re-elect President Bush and other Republicans. But according to the Center for Public Integrity, which monitors campaign spending, the CRNC has spent at least 83 percent of its proceeds since 2000 on direct mailings and other fund-raising expenses.

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cvxv said...

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