Robert Graham, the former Arizona GOP chair who is attacking top Trump ally Kelli Ward, was barred from trading in Massachusetts after losing an elderly woman’s $400,000. The state party also faced FEC scrutiny from his time as chair.
Dr. Kelli Ward was successfully re-elected as the chair of the Arizona GOP last month, defeating Sergio Arellano in the second round of voting. However, despite Arellano joining Ward on stage following his defeat and calling for party unity, the loser then proceeded to demand an audit of the vote, insubstantially claiming that there were “errors” in the voting process.
2) state committeemen are raising concerns and asking me to ask for an audit because only a candidate for party office can do so. So I've done that and we're waiting for a response that lays out the when, where, and how of that process.
— Sergio Arellano (@SurgeArellano) January 28, 2021
Arellano, who National File revealed has a lengthy history of traffic offenses, including driving without a license or insurance, and has been accused of passing a bad check, was joined in his call for an audit by Robert Graham, who served as the chairman of the Arizona GOP between 2013 and 2017.
“At this point, if the results of the elections are not made public, in an auditable form, each of us should question the hypocrisy and integrity of the AZ GOP state election,” Graham said in a statement.
The call is coming from inside the house: Here's former @AZGOP chair's Robert Graham's response when he was asked to sign letter to Ward demanding GOP election recount. t.co/ULdFFCApfH pic.twitter.com/lfGtroP3SN
— Brahm Resnik (@brahmresnik) January 31, 2021
However, it appears Graham had a less than stellar job performance when he was at the helm of the Arizona Republican Party.
Reports from 2018 note that Graham was fined $15,000 and barred from the financial industry in the state of Massachusetts following his alleged mishandling of an investment opportunity that resulted in a 67-year-old woman losing $400,000. The elderly woman gave Graham the $400,000 from trusts meant to provide for her elderly mother and disabled brother, expecting that Graham’s investment strategy would increase her capital. Until courts intervened, she was left with nothing.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts said in a press release that the money was lost “as a result of mismanagement by Graham and his business partners.” The investment opportunity in question was a project to pull apart a steel mill in yet another state, which Graham claimed only failed due to “weather and commodity prices.”
Graham allegedly did not notify his broker-dealer, Capital Investment Group, about soliciting the client to invest in the company, according to the consent order, with CIG’s chief compliance officer only finding out about this one month later.
National File can also reveal that the Arizona GOP faced serious FEC scrutiny during Graham’s chairmanship. Emails obtained by National File show that millions of dollars were misstated or incorrectly disclosed during the 2013-4 election period, with the FEC forcing the state party, under Treasurer Bob Lettieri, to enter a corrective action plan to fix the myriad of financial errors. Some of the errors included:
- Misstated financial activity in the amount of $942,594.
- Incorrectly disclosed disbursements in the amount of $1,926,995, seemingly allocated for the vague purpose of “voter registration”.
- Receiving excessive contributions totalling $86,000.
- Incorrectly disclosed donations totalling $140,000.
- Lack of itemisation of expenditures in the amount of $236,754.
You can read the full corrective action plan negotiated between the Arizona Republican Party and the FEC below:
Lettieri, a fellow challenger to Ward’s chairmanship of the party, who went on to endorse Arellano during the second round of voting, was the AZGOP treasurer who handled the FEC investigation.
He described the state Graham left the Arizona Republican Party’s finances as a “mess” that demanded immediate federal intervention.
In a statement to National File, Lettieri explained that he was “credited by the FEC” for “cleaning up the mess left behind by Robert Graham” after he was elected to his position in 2018.
Lettieri, a career businessman with a background in raising capital, previously expressed incredulity at Arellano’s ability to raise money for the party, and the quality of his character, noting that it is possible he could be “influenced” by outside parties if he held the unpaid position of Arizona Republican Party Chairman.
Presently, the loose association of Republicans attacking Ward consist of a man who scammed an elderly woman of the savings she used to provide for her disabled and elderly family, whose professional malfeasance apparently spilled over into the Arizona Republican Party, and a man with a chronic history of serious traffic violations who was also once accused of passing a bad check.