RNC Gets Jacked for $44,000 by Coffee-Loving Thieves

  • Someone illegally used the RNC’s credit card to make almost $44,000 in fraudulent purchases.
  • Fraudsters spent most of the money at a coffee and tea supplier that stocks high-end espresso machines.
  • In public documents, the RNC initially described the thefts as “office supplies” purchases. It then revised its description when federal regulators asked questions.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Fraudsters stole almost $44,000 just before the 2020 election from the Republican National Committee — the latest in a string of thefts from prominent federal political operations.

RNC Treasurer Ronald C. Kaufman acknowledged the theft in an April 30 letter to the Federal Election Commission, an agency responsible for enforcing campaign finance transparency laws and that had questioned the committee’s accounting. 

The theft, RNC spokesperson Emma Vaughn told Insider, stemmed from fraudulent charges made in September on an RNC American Express card, and “upon learning of the charges, we immediately notified AMEX and initiated a fraudulent charge dispute.”

American Express ultimately credited the RNC’s account, Vaughn said.

The thieves spent more than $35,500 of the RNC’s money at EZ Coffee & Tea, a Pennsylvania-based merchant that sells various products including high-end espresso machines, and another $8,450 at MidWest Biochar, an agricultural services company in Kansas, according to Kaufman’s April 30 letter to the FEC.

But the RNC originally disclosed the thefts differently, describing them in an October FEC report as a “credit” for “office supplies.”  

Asked why, Vaughn said “these charges were still currently being researched” in October “and we categorized them as office supplies.”

She added that “upon resolution of the dispute, AMEX credited the account and we applied the credit against the original account per standard accounting practices. All of this was properly reported to the FEC.”

While the RNC’s changing description of the theft is a “bit odd,” the committee appears to have complied with federal disclosure rules by…

Read MoreRNC Gets Jacked for $44,000 by Coffee-Loving Thieves