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Alaska GOP warned to stop meddling with Ron Paul delegates

Eric Christopher Adams
Creative Commons photos

The Ron Paul 2012 Presidential Campaign has fired a warning shot at the Alaska Republican Party and its longtime chairman, Randy Ruedrich, over what it perceives as unfair treatment of Paul delegates to the upcoming GOP conventions.

Ruedrich disputes the campaign's allegations and says the Alaska GOP is treating all campaigns fairly. He says the party is just trying to conduct routine business, but that "misinformation" from Paul supporters in Alaska has caused much ado about absolutely nothing.

It would appear the whole kerfuffle comes down to money and documentation. Ruedrich claims there have been many instances of GOP district chairs not getting their fees paid on time or not providing the party with requisite paperwork. Some of the disorganized happen to be Ron Paul supporters, he said. No names were named in a Thursday interview with Alaska Dispatch.

But names weren't needed, since many Paul supporters have been forwarding accusatory emails, one of which allegedly originated with Evan Cutler, a Paul 2012 organizer for Alaska. In that email, Cutler claimed that disorganization among party leadership had prompted any problems, not the other way around.

On Thursday, Cutler said via email that he's a duly-elected delegate who sits on the Alaska Republican Party State Central Committee and who feels "duty bound to do my level best to help turn this unfortunate situation around."

Cutler was asked whether he thought Alaska GOP officials were intentionally trying to make it difficult for Ron Paul presidential delegates to complete their party business and participate in the upcoming state and party conventions.

"While I cannot read anyone's mind or intentions," he said, "the numerous verbal and written accounts I've received … would make a reasonable person suspect this is the case."  All he wants, he added, is for party officials to follow the rules to enable full participation in the election process.

Cutler's response echoed what the Paul for President campaign's lawyer spelled out in an April 17 letter excoriating Ruedrich for what amounts to party mismanagement that threatens to violate "rights of Alaskans to participate in the political process." The letter, from David A. Warrington of the Virginia law firm LeClairRyan, takes Ruedrich to task for frustrating Paul supporters "at every turn" for not accepting checks, not promptly returning money orders, confusing credit card processing, and other alleged misdeeds.

The Paul campaign decided to intercede and attempted to pay some fees for Alaskans that wanted to stand up for Paul at the state and national conventions. Ruedrich and the GOP refused payment from the national campaign.

Why?

"According to Alaska GOP rules, that's not allowed," Ruedrich said. "These people have had more than 40 days to get their financials in order. Individuals have to pay" their delegate and party fees, not campaigns, Ruedrich said. Other states might let campaigns pay to play but not the Alaska GOP.

Ruedrich isn't new to this rodeo. This is the seventh presidential campaign he's been involved in, his fifth as Alaska Republican Party chairman. He's been in the game since Ronald Reagan was a perceived insurgent against the "establishment." He said he's never had a presidential campaign's attorney scold him like this.

The Paul folks have been claiming for months that Ruedrich has been causing them problems. After the Presidential Preference Poll, frustrated Paul 2012 supporters, Cutler included, said openly that it might be time for Ruedrich to go.

Cutler stood behind those comments Thurday, when asked whether he still thought it was time for new Alaska GOP leadership.

"True leadership is the ability to pull people together toward common goals … With some notable exceptions, incumbent party leadership to my mind is harming our party. By doing so, they are inhibiting all of our ability to focus on working for a fair and open party process that draws Alaskans of every stripe to work together for life, liberty, constitutional law and a sustainable economy," Cutler said via email. "I, for one, will be voting for new party leadership."

Ruedrich, a survivor to rival any Roman emperor, said his job as chairman is to maintain order among the factions of the state Republican Party -- whether Paul libertarians, Santorum right-to-lifers or oil-patch Romney supporters. If any faction causes problems, he tries to solve them.

"Look. We're not trying to cause problems for the Ron Paul supporters. If we're causing problems for them, we're causing problems for the Romney delegates, too, who don't follow the process. We're trying to comply with the laws and rules as they apply to everybody. Same goes for Newt Gingrich and for (Rick) Santorum," Ruedrich said.

And what of Santorum's delegates? Recall that Santorum won eight of the state's 24 delegates but has since suspended his campaign.

Since he's still technically "in" -- he hasn't withdrawn -- those eight Alaska delegates are bound by contract with the Republican National Committee to vote for Santorum once they get to Tampa, Fla., for the convention this August. Gingrich's two delegate-take from Alaska must vote for their man. Romney's eight delegates must vote for him. And Paul's six delegates -- should they overcome these hurdles, real or imagined, with the state party -- are duty-bound to the Texas congressman. At least for two rounds of balloting. After that, all bets are off, and delegates can line up behind whomever they want -- Santorum's behind Paul or Romney or Gingrich -- or any late-summer convention surprises in Florida.

Cutler said that any Santorum or Gingrich defectors might want to give Paul another thought.

"We welcome Santorum and Gingrich supporters with open arms and have already had a number of them join the cause," he said via email.

Contact Eric Christopher Adams at eric(at)alaskadispatch.com