The campaign manager for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, already facing a state investigation over allegations of theft from Dewhurst’s political account, has been accused of also taking at least $1 million from the Republican’s U.S. Senate campaign last year. Federal officials have opened an investigation of their own.
Kenneth “Buddy” Barfield, a longtime political adviser to the lieutenant governor, stole at least $1 million from Dewhurst’s failed Senate campaign for his own use, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission by lawyers for Dewhurst.
The Dewhurst campaign’s internal investigation “found that Mr. Barfield knowingly supplied false information to the Dewhurst campaign, which then caused the Dewhurst campaign to report a number of inaccurate transactions” in disclosure reports required under federal law, the lawyers wrote.
The new disclosure widens the potential criminal liability for Barfield, who is now under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. And it deepens the political fallout for Dewhurst, who has said he knew nothing of the financial irregularities until a campaign accountant notified him in early December.
The Dewhurst campaign sent the federal agency extensive amended campaign finance reports that removed from the original reports a long list of transactions “which did not actually occur.”
The letter also indicates that because of Barfield’s machinations, Dewhurst’s U.S. Senate campaign account owes money to his state political account — an apparent violation of federal campaign finance laws — for consulting services.
Dewhurst campaign officials said Barfield concealed his theft from the state account by falsifying bank deposit slips, vendor invoices and finance reports to make it appear that campaign accounts had far more cash on hand than they actually did. In the meantime, he and his side businesses, such as Alexander Group Consulting, were paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for services — many of which were never delivered.
Barfield associates have said he was involved in high-dollar property deals and other business ventures across the country that might have led to his alleged actions with the campaign accounts.
Federal reports filed by Dewhurst’s Senate campaign showed similar practices by Barfield in handling funds for that account. They included numerous companies — such as campaign and media consultants — who were not paid for their services.
Dewhurst campaign officials also said they were sending refund checks to contributors who made maximum $2,500 donations for the general election campaign last year. Dewhurst was defeated in the GOP primary runoff by Ted Cruz and didn’t make it to the general election.
In all, about $780,000 in refunds will be sent out by the end of the week. Dewhurst apparently had to personally supply some of the money used to issue the refunds.
See here for some background. What a big, ugly mess this is. Barfield apparently had some business dealings that went south, which seem to have left him in a cash crunch. Given that, it’s not too surprising that he might have taken advantage of the large supply of campaign money that had been entrusted to his care. The DMN story indicates that Barfield had financial issues going back to at least 2009, which makes one wonder if Dewhurst was unaware of what was going on with his campaign manager, or if he knew but trusted him anyway. Either way, it sure bit him in the hindquarters. The Statesman has more.