In a rare move that’s likely to shock many in political circles, former Alaska Republican Party chair Randy Ruedrich has filed an APOC complaint against the Anchorage Republican Women’s Club, the club chaired by Judy Eledge.
In his complaint, which was filed late Tuesday afternoon, Ruedrich alleges that the ARWC is not keeping proper donor-records. Specifically, he says that it has failed to disclose aggregate contributions. Contributions to political groups under $100 are not subject to detailed APOC reporting rules. However, names and address of donors are required when donors exceed more than $100 a year, even if those contributions are in small increments.
Ruedrich said that it appears that the ARWC wasn’t keeping track of small donations, and therefore couldn’t account for aggregate contributions that might have passed the $100 threshold.
To Ruedrich’s knowledge, all other Republican clubs are trying to comply with the “spirit of the law,” he said. The ARWC isn’t.
Eledge didn’t have time to look at the specifics of the complaint, but did say that they were all volunteers doing the best they could and that as far as she knew, the club was compliant. She also questioned Ruedrich’s motives.
There has been long-brewing tension between Ruedrich and Eledge, and Eledge contends that Ruedrich filed the complaint because she won’t “go along to get along.”
“I will not bend to threats and harassment,” she said.
For his part, Ruedrich said that he’s just trying to do the right thing. “If you know something is being done that’s not right, you have a moral obligation to file (a complaint), otherwise you’re conspiring with that person for failure to disclose,” he said. Even if it is a Republican organization, he said. He remembered filing a complaint against at least one other Republican, the husband of short-term former GOP chair Debbie Brown.
Ruedrich said that he first became concerned about ARWC’s reporting after he received an email from Eledge related to a debate the ARWC is sponsoring on Thursday night, for which the club plans on charging $10 per person. Apparently, a question was raised about whether or not the charge would trigger reporting requirements. In the email, Eledge says, “We have NEVER kept records of every times (sic) someone spends $10 for an event they attend that is Republican and I don’t think other clubs do either.”
That sentence prompted Ruedrich to look deeper into the books. What he found was that the ARWC reported that 528 donors contributed under $100, for a total of $35,511. After accounting for membership and other small donors, it appeared to him that at least some donors who weren’t named gave more than $100.
In any case, it’s incumbent on clubs to keep records of small donors, even if they aren’t required to be named, he said.
Much of this tension appears to be developing as a result of the ARWC’s Thursday night GOP Senate debate. Questions have been raised as to Eledge’s neutrality, and the legality of the debate.
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 four women’s clubs sponsoring the debate have a federal account. In the email that Ruedrich included in the complaint, it appeared that Eledge was aware that the event could fall under FEC guidelines. Nothing was done to address the issue until Tuesday.
A fix, apparently, is in the works.
Contact Amanda Coyne at firstname.lastname@example.org
Clarification: The story was edited to indicate that groups like the Alaska Republican Women’s Club must report all donations, but they don’t need to include the names and addresses of those who donated less than $100 a year and can lump-sum the small donations in their reporting.