The chief counsel to the state Senate Republicans has been fired after admitting misappropriating tens of thousands of dollars from an election expenses account. Michael Cronin was confronted Monday by the caucus leader, state Senator Len Fasano, after vendors complained of unpaid bills, and a check was bounced.
The theft has now been reported to Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane.
Fasano told reporters Monday he was shocked by Cronin’s admission.
"In this building Mike has got a very good reputation," said Fasano. "He’s been here longer than me. People in this building know his work."
He indicated Cronin may have taken the money for his own use, after being in financial difficulties.
"I don’t know what went wrong, whatever the fiscal hardships he was having that made him take an action that was totally uncharacteristic, and unpredictable given the person that we all know in this building,” said Fasano.
Cronin apparently told Fasano that as sole signatory of the Senate Republican Leadership PAC, he removed the money without authorization. The PAC was funded by donors intending the cash to go to the campaigns of state Senate candidates.
Fasano said the PAC's accounts will now undergo a forensic audit to determine the exact amount that was misappropriated.
Cronin has said he will attempt to make restitution, and Fasano assured vendors they would be paid the full amount they are owed.
Cronin has retained attorney Ross Garber to represent him.
Garber issued a statement saying, "Mike has taken full responsibility for these issues. He voluntarily reported them to Senate Republican leadership and to the Chief State’s Attorney’s office. He is cooperating with authorities and is committed to ensuring that all donor funds are accounted for and fully restored."