By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A $52,000 fine levied against the Wyoming Republican Party by the Federal Election Commission stems from the late reporting of joint fundraising activities with the Republican National Committee and the campaign to elect Donald Trump as president in 2016, the party has announced.
The party has been fully reimbursed for the fine by the Republican National Committee, thanks to the efforts of current Chairman Frank Eathorne, it said in a “status report” published on its website.
“Current Wyoming GOP Chairman W. Frank Eathorne was successful in securing for the Party donated funds to cover the entire civil penalty,” it said. “As a result of his efforts the State Party will not be out any money, having now been made whole.”
In the post, officials explained that the violations occurred in 2016-2017, before the party’s current leadership team was in place.
“The current Wyoming GOP leadership team was surprised to learn in 2017-2018 about an alleged FEC violation that occurred during the previous Republican Party administration,” it said. “Not one of the current leadership team had any knowledge of, or participation in, the decisions leading up to either the joint fundraising agreement or the alleged violation. However, the current Wyoming GOP leadership team was tasked with addressing and resolving the matter.”
The statement said the three reporting errors which occurred over a four-month period happened while Matt Micheli was the party chairman.
The reporting issues arose stemmed from an agreement Micheli entered into with the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign for joint fundraising activities, which is a common practice among both parties.
Micheli retained a small Utah accounting firm to handle the accounting and reporting obligations under the agreement, and the Wyoming GOP noted that there were both state Democratic and Republican parties who made the same errors as Wyoming in “failing to fully satisfy the specific FEC reporting requirements during the same time frame.”
“Wyoming, in other words, was not alone in the error that was allegedly made,” the party said.
The party has now retained a different accounting firm with extensive experience in campaign finance.
The statement also addressed the party’s fundraising efforts.
“We are also pleased to report that our fundraising has been strong, and we are meeting our financial planning goals. Despite the fact that COVID has hindered our ability over the last year to hold in-person events, we are not only gaining donors, but the average amount donated by each has increased,” it said. “Our numbers for 2021 compare favorably to past years, and we have every expectation that the donations will continue. We are a grassroots organization supported by grassroots conservatives who understand the importance of what we do.”