What was supposed to be a relatively seamless GOP Senate candidate debate sponsored by four Alaska Republican women’s’ clubs, including the Anchorage Republican Women’s Club, has turned into an event which, as planned, might violate federal election laws.
The debate is scheduled for Thursday night at East High School in Anchorage, and all three major candidates—Joe Miller, Mead Treadwell, and Dan Sullivan—were expected to attend. The organizers were charging $10 at the door.
At issue is who, and how, the debate would be paid for, and how the money collected from the event would be spent. Federal election law dictates that all expenses and revenue for a federal candidates event put on by a political club be handled by a federal account. None of the women’s clubs have a federal account.
Rhonda Boyles, the president of the Alaska Federation of Republican Women, caught the potential mistake and sent a memo out to some of the members of the group on Saturday. To continue the debate as planned could damage the clubs, she said, and more importantly the candidates.
Alaska GOP Vice-chair elect Frank McQueary was able to reach Treadwell and Sullivan’s campaign manager. Both campaigns expressed a willingness to work things out so the debate can go on, McQueary said. He wasn’t able to reach Miller.
On Tuesday, Sullivan’s campaign sent out a release, offering to pay for the debate. “Even though we have agreed to five additional debates before the primary, I think it’s important that we honor this particular pledge to our fellow Republicans,” the release said.
Judy Eledge, the president of the Anchorage Republican Women’s Club, has taken the lead on organizing the event. She’s had help from Bernadette Wilson, who has worked for Mead Treadwell, but according to Boyles, declined help from her. When reached on Tuesday morning, Eledge seemed unwilling to allow Sullivan’s campaign to pay for it. Eledge and the party establishment have a rocky history, and there’s been allegations that Eledge has organized the event to Treadwell’s advantage.
“There has been one obstacle after another for this debate not to happen,” Eledge said. “We believe that this will not be an FEC violation and are waiting to hear back from an FEC attorney who has offered potential solutions.”
I’ll have more as I learn it.
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