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    April 1, 2008  


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Covington's Rob Kelner is searching for political donations, though not in the way you think. Any pol, it seems, can raise $1 million/day over the Internet now, but Rob's task is trickier. He's investigating the alleged theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars from accounts of the National Republican Congressional Committee by its now-resigned treasurer, Christopher Ward.


The major fund-raising unit of House Republicans, the NRCC called on Rob in late January after finding "accounting irregularities." The FBI has opened an investigation into Ward, and the NRCC has tasked Rob to ferret out the scope of financial mischief (which purportedly includes forged audit reports going back to 2002). Since his investigation started, the NRCC has informed the FEC that it has $740,000 less "cash on hand" than it previously reported. Rob is expecting the full scoop from a DC-based team of forensic accountants from PriceWaterhouseCoopers—who've yet to tie all the missing funds to illicit transfers by Ward—in five to seven weeks.


Rob's a former speechwriter to Jack Kemp, so we expect he was penning some stirring words here. (His tip for future Obamas: study Douglas MacArthur's valedictory address at West Point.) The political junkie chairs the Election and Political Law group at Covington, where he's repped the NRCC on a roll call of high-profile matters, including the Mark Foley investigation. He also counseled the Republican National Committee on the White House's alleged improper use of committee e-mail addresses. (Remember those U.S. attorney firings—like 30 scandals ago?)


Smiling behind all that glare is Judge Cabranes, whom Rob clerked for on the Second Circuit. (Note to self:  figure out how to use camera.)


Though he investigates dirty dealings by day, Rob's backstory is idyllic. He met his wife Rona, a former FTC lawyer, on their very first day at UVa Law School, when they sat next to each other at orientation. We asked him who got better grades, but Rob would only say "my wife is much smarter than I am." Hanging around politicians has taught him much.

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