The Alaska Republican Party has undergone something of a coup. Party Chairwoman Debbie Brown has been ousted, and state party vice – chair Peter Goldberg has become the new chair.
Goldberg’s accession Monday [last] night marks the latest chapter in the saga of the Republicans’ messy internal politics. Brown, reached on her cell phone, said the actions of the executive committee itself was illegal under party rules:
“It’s just a couple of factions that are basically at war within the Alaska Republican Party. It’s very unfortunate that we cannot look for ways to have dialogue and conversation and move ahead in a respectable, honorable way with one another but we’ve got a group of people who want to circumvent our party rules. They want to alter them to accomplish an end to which many Alaska Republicans are opposed. to.”
On January 31, newly – elected party Chairman Russ Millette was ousted by the party’s executive committee, literally an hour before he was to take his seat. Vice- chair Brown was then named chairwoman in his place a day later. Millette and Brown were initially elected to party official seats in 2012, when a wave of presidential candidate Ron Paul supporters flooded the party’s statewide meeting.
Media sources reported that last night, the Republican executive committee attempted to meet at party headquarters in Anchorage, only to find themselves locked out of the building. Apparantly, Brown had changed the locks. The executive committee cooled it’s heels in a blizzard for a while, then went to a nearby office building to conduct business. The first order of business was to oust Brown. Brown said yes, she changed the locks, not an uncommon move for a new party leader
“…in that there were a lot of keys that were out there. No one really knew who had the keys, who did not have the keys, and so I felt it was the responsible thing to do.” she said.
Russ Millette says the issue is money. Party leaders in February said Millette was ousted because he had failed to raise funds for the party since his election in April of last year.
‘It is about money, and it is not about the Ron Paul folks. If you go back to last April, when I won, I got the majority of the vote. I got 54 percent of the vote. When I was elected, there was a longevity rule that nine months later I would take office and be trained for nine months. I didn’t get any training. Nobody ever said ‘Russ come here, I want to show you something.’ I would always have to ask questions and get partial answers,” he said.
Millette has an appeal pending before the Republican central committee. He alleges that if his appeal is heard, Party books will have to be opened.
Brown now headed for a Republican National Committee meeting in California, says she hasn’t decided if she will appeal the ouster:
“I’m not certain that I will appeal it. My biggest concern is that if I do appeal it, it will be an appeal to something that I believe was illegitimate in its origin. The meeting that occurred on the evening of the eighth day of April, although I was not in state anyway, the point is that it was an illegitimate meeting. And so you’ve got a small group of individuals called the executive committee where, some of the members that participated, had been terminated, because these members serve at the pleasure of the chairman. ”
Brown says she had terminated some party officials who had served under former Republican Party of Alaska chairman Randy Ruedrich.
Ruedrich did not return phone calls Tuesday.
In January of this year, Anchorage Republicans transferred more than 34 thousand dollars in party funds to the Juneau chapter, essentially putting the cash out of reach of Millette and Brown.
The Republican central committee, a larger committee of ninety or more members, meets again in late May in Homer. Stay tuned.