San Diego Republicans react to chairman's piracy past
In Part I of this series, RawStory revealed that Tony Krvaric, chair of the San Diego Republican Party and head of the California GOP’s Finance Committee, co-founded an international piracy ring known as Fairlight.
Kvaric was appointed to head the California Republican Party budget committee by his mentor, party chairman Ron Nehring, who is himself a protégé of conservative strategist Grover Norquist. RAW STORY has previously reported on earlier controversies involving Nehring, including his push for school privatization and the controversy surrounding his appointment by Governor Schwarzenegger to an education coalition.
Nehring has recently drawn criticism from prominent Republicans for two other questionable appointments. Following revelations that he hired Michael Kamburowski, an Australian alien deported by Homeland Security and jailed on visa violations, Nehring denied knowing of Kamburowski's legal issues before hiring him as Chief Operating Officer to oversee large sums of money for the Califoronia GOP. Kamburowski filed suit against the U.S. government and resigned his post with the GOP after his past was revealed.
Nehring also took heat for hiring Christopher Matthews, who lacked significant experience in statewide politics, after the California Republican Party obtained an H1B visa specifically for Matthews to serve as political director.
Under Nehring and Krvaric’s financial stewardship, the California Republican Party has amassed over $3.8 million in debt (link)."The registration gap (with Democrats) is widening, contributions are drying up, key posts have been left open for a year, staff is being laid off and there is a never-ending string of reports which is causing long-term damage to the image of the party," Larry Dodge, a major party donor wrote in a letter to Nehring which was published by Associated Press. Dodge further suggested that party officers were “squandering money without accountability,” AP reported (link).
Nehring did not return phone calls from RAW STORY regarding Kvaric's background checks.
LOCAL REPUBLICANS REACT
“I’m not surprised,” said Republican school board member Priscilla Schreiber upon learning that Nehring appointed the alleged founder of a piracy ring to handle the California GOP’s finances. Schreiber, who served with Nehring on the Grossmont Union High-School Board, complained that she "saw no real concern with what was happening with dollars and cents" by him back then.
Schreiber added, "It’s sad for all of us strong Republican candidates who hold to the party platform and care about integrity and honesty."
Conservative blogger James Hartline has previously criticized Nehring for supporting flag-burning and holding "anti-Christian" values (link). After learning of allegations that Krvaric founded a global piracy ring, Hartline told Raw Story, “I have uncovered a lot more stuff over the years that gives validity to this particular report. They’ve tried to drive me out of the Republican Party because for the last three years, I’ve been trying to uncover corruption within the party."
Hartline, a Christian activist and candidate for City Council, has spoken openly about turning his life around after spending time in jail on drug and theft charges following childhood abuse. According to Hartline, Krvaric instructed San Diego’s Republican Central Committee to refuse consideration of endorsing his candidacy because he has a felony conviction. "This is the guy with all these criminal ties telling me I couldn’t be interviewed," he observed.
At his blog Hartline reports that Fairlight.com's photo archives contains "several pictures of Krvaric involved with some very sickening situations" including one featuring the future GOP chairman for San Diego "posing with a porn star."
Text accompanying the photo, which was labeled "biaatch" in the archives, at Krvaric's website, explained, "After the FairLight crew abandoned the London shows, the computer and video game shows in Las Vegas have been attracting more and more visitors. We especially recommend visiting the 'Adult Section' of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Lots (and we mean lots) of pornostars and otherwise beautiful and 'endowed' women strolling around on the showroom floor showing off their warez! A let me tell you... Those are some HOT warez! As you can see Strider of FairLight seems to have been caught a bit by surprise, and is having a hard (?) time keeping his mouth closed. Of course, the girl also recognized who Strider was, and immediately started grabbing for his crotch."
"These are the people saying 'We’re the caretakers of morality', then there he is at a party with naked girls," Hartline complained to RAW STORY.
Hartline questioned how a recent immigrant with little political experience, rose so quickly through the ranks of the GOP. "Were deals made with law enforcement?" he asked. "There is no way you would get that kind of securities license nor get a U.S. citizenship with that kind of background, and on top of that, move up to the high level in the Republican Party." Hartline predicts the Krvaric story will be "the biggest scandal in the history of San Diego politics," adding on his blog that consequences will be "devastating for Republican candidates and their supporters."
Jess Durfee, Chairman of the San Diego Democratic Party, had this to say upon learning of the revelations about his counterpart in the GOP: "This is a person who is representing the Party in contact with donors, contributors, supporters and it needs to be person who reflects well on the values of the party. If these allegations prove to be true, it would seem the local Republican Party is carrying on the tradition of corruption that we’ve seen with Grover Norquist, Abramoff, Cunningham and the like."
Krvaric’s Employment History includes Scandal-plagued Firms
Currently a licensed securities broker in 10 states, Tony Krvaric has also served as a financial consultant at Wachovia (formerly A.G. Edwards & Associates) in San Diego. According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Krvaric is now employed by Commonwealth Financial Network and has also started his own company, Krvaric Financial (link). The company website, www.krvariccapital.com, however, is blank except for a message stating the site is being redesigned.
Interestingly, Commonwealth is referenced in a recent Investment News article describing how financial companies are checking backgrounds more closely on professionals that they hire in the wake of various scandals. "According to James Adelman, general counsel and head of the privacy office and anti-money-laundering initiative at Commonwealth Financial Network in Waltham, Mass., the company undertook a risk analysis several years ago after being stung by an adviser who misappropriated funds, and now has a permanent risk committee that meets quarterly."
Krvaric’s prior employer, Wachovia, has been implicated in several major financial scandals. Last week, U.S. officials announced an investigation into "the role of Wachovia Corp. in an alleged money laundering scheme involving Mexican and Colombian drug money."
Wachovia is also linked to a growing scandal involving the Republican National Campaign Committee (RNCC) in what may be "the biggest campaign swindle ever reported," according to the Washington Post. The RNCC notified the FBI after finding bookkeeping discrepancies of over a million dollars and evidence that the NRCC’s former treasurer, Christopher Ward, faked audit reports and made hefty unauthorized wire transfers that appear to have ended up in his own bank accounts. Ward, also treasurer for many high-profile Republican candidates and elected officials, wired funds to accounts at various Wachovia branches.
Another past employer of Krvaric’s, A.G. Edwards (acquired last year by Wachovia), has been accused of taking kickbacks from mutual fund companies and other financial improprieties. A.G. Edwards was also hit with a $1.2 million dollar judgment after a Florida stockbroker, Brian Christensen, pled guilty to bilking elderly clients.
A PIRATE'S FUTURE?
Even before revelations of piracy, Krvaric has drawn criticism from Christian conservatives for his stances on other issues, including flag burning and homosexuality.
But his secret past might surprise Republican voters who place high priority on moral values.
"The party’s values haven’t changed," Tony Krvaric observed during an interview with KPBS TV in April 2007. "Greater personal responsibility, smaller government, and a free enterprise system, those are core party values…At the end of the day, those are what motivate Republican voters."
Krvaric has thus far shown little inclination to take personal responsibility for his past activities involving Fairlight, however.
Whether California Republicans will donate money to a party with Kvaric overseeing finances--and whether the San Diego GOP will keep an unrepentant pirate at its helm--remain to be seen.