Complaint Accuses Alaska Republicans of Breaking Campaign Finance Laws

"Last-minute. Baseless. And probably illegal. As long as the state's Republicans keep Randy on, they'll never claw their way out of the ethical swamp they're in."

Another election, another last-minute attempt by the Alaska Republican Party and its chairman, Randy Ruedrich, to get around state campaign financing laws.

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This time, Ruedrich is trying to hide campaign contributions by claiming the party's spending on attack ads are so-called independent expenditures.

One of Ruedrich's Anchorage attacks is a mailer against Rep. Harry Crawford on behalf of his opponent, Gene Brokaw.

"It's the usual Randy Ruedrich stuff," said Rep. Mike Doogan, who is speaking for the party in the matter. "Last-minute. Baseless. And probably illegal. As long as the state's Republicans keep Randy on, they'll never claw their way out of the ethical swamp they're in."

Under state law, an independent expenditure is only possible if there is no coordination between the person or group making the expenditure and the candidate or his campaign. The Democrats are filing a complaint with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, asking the commission to investigate how it happens that the party is attacking Crawford on the same point Brokaw has been attacking on, without coordinating the attack.

In August, Democratic Party officials asked the APOC whether a political party could legally make an independent expenditure on behalf of a candidate. APOC's Chris Ellingson told Alaska Democratic Party spokeswoman Kay Brown that it would be "hard for a party to do it and pass a straight-face test." She advised that any party entity doing an IE would have be "completely uninvolved" with the candidate and the candidate's campaign, and that there could be no contact about the campaign with the candidate, manager, or other agent of the candidate in order to legally do an independent expenditure.

Based on that advice, the Alaska Democratic party decided not to make independent expenditures.

"We wanted to stay in the center of the ethical playing field," Doogan said.

Ruedrich and the Republicans, who received the same advice from Ellingson, apparently decided differently.

"I guess that, as usual, Randy liked it there right on the out-of-bounds line. Or, most likely, way over it."

In addition, Ruedrich's party and its subdivisions have already given Brokaw more than $9,600, according to APOC reports. The law limits party contributions to House candidates to $10,000.

"We weren't sure how far over the limit Ruedrich has gone with this so-called IE, because his reports failed to show the spending," Doogan said. "That's a violation of the law all by itself."

The expenditure should have been reported Oct. 28. In response to an APOC query, Ruedrich amended the report on Thursday to show accrued expenditures of $1,950. Although even the amendment doesn't show that the spending was for the mailer, APOC staff has said Ruedrich said that's what it was for.

"Ruedrich and his party have likewise spent in excess of $10,000, and issued last-minute negative ads for their candidates against Anchorage Rep. Bob Buch and Fairbanks Rep. Scott Kawasaki," Doogan said.

Ruedrich is no stranger to ethical violations. He was appointed by then-Gov. Frank Murkowski to the Alaska Oil and Gas Commission in March 2003. After being accused by fellow commission member Sarah Palin of doing Republican Party business on state time, he resigned in November of that year. Ruedrich later admitted violations of the state Ethics Act, pled no contest, and was fined $12,000 for leaking confidential information to a company regulated by the commission and for doing party business from his state office.

From a Alaska Democratic Party press release

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