But while Newt Gingrich's continued candidacy appears nominal, Ron Paul is still actively campaigning. Thus the delegates Ron Paul picked up in Alaska's March 6th Presidential Preference Poll are anxious to support their candidate at the upcoming Alaska State Republican Convention to be held at the Anchorage Hilton from April 26-28, and to provide a home for those suddenly-orphaned Santorum delegates who do not want to support Mitt Romney at this time.
However, the Ron Paul campaign has issued a press release accusing the Alaska Republican Party of obstructing the efforts of Ron Paul delegates to participate in the state convention, raising the spectre of prospective disenfranchisement. The specific problem appears to be substantial irregularities regarding the Alaska Republican Party’s process for the payment of delegate fees. The only Alaska media outlet reporting on this is the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, and even then, it's merely a three-line blurb which characterizes the Ron Paul campaign as "complainers". Update: Alaska Dispatch has now published a good article which records subsequent reaction from both Evan Cutler and Randy Ruedrich.
According to a separate letter sent to Republican Chairman Randy Ruedrich by David Warrington, the Party’s 2012 Convention Call did not establish any deadlines as to when delegate and alternate fees must be paid and that the Party’s own rules only require that the delegate registration fee be paid before being seated as a delegate (Article V Section 2 ARP Rules). In fact, on the Party’s own website, the posted schedule of events for the Convention stated that registration begins at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 26, 2012. It is clear from this published notice and the established rules of the Party that those wishing to be either primary or alternate delegates to the Convention have until at least the close of registration at the Convention.
However, on Monday April 16th, Reudrich called a state committee meeting at which he stated that the $250 delegate fee would be accepted no later than 48 hours from the time of the meeting, which would take place on Wednesday April 18th. Then on Tuesday April 17th, the state party suddenly warned that delegate fees had to be paid by 6:00 p.m that same evening. Adding insult to injury was the fact that as individual delegates and campaigns scrambled to pay delegate fees, the state party erected bizarre and allegedly extra-legal obstacles in front of delegates supporting Ron Paul and other non-Romney delegates.
Furthermore, those attempting to pay delegate fees have been frustrated at every turn by party officials. Examples of this include a woman who tried to pay her delegate fee with a check but was then told but was told that the party does not accept checks. She the went an obtained a money order, which the party took, but then party officials informed her that the party did not take money orders, although they have not yet returned the money order to her. Others seeking to pay their delegate fees have been subject to a moving target as to what form of payment the party will accept — if they come with a check, they are told checks are unacceptable, if they come with a credit card, they are told the party does not take credit cards. Party officials have told others trying to pay their delegate fees that the party will not accept cash. If the party will not take cash, credit cards, money orders, or checks, what other form of legal tender will it
The Ron Paul campaign understandably concludes that these anomalies are too numerous and pervasive to be attributed merely to ignorance and inefficiency, and suggests they constitute a deliberate attempt to disenfranchise Ron Paul delegates. David Warrington warns in his letter that the campaign is prepared to pursue litigation if necessary to resolve the issue.
Alaska Dispatch documented other examples of suspected chicanery directed against Ron Paul supporters during the Preference Poll itself. On March 7th, Ron Paul for Alaska campaign chief Evan Cutler alleged that people who were registered to vote were turned away at the polls due to confusion among the poll volunteers, and that voter registration databases were outdated. He further claimed that the Ron Paul campaign had conducted exit polling across the state and that numbers reported by the state party leaders didn't jibe. Cutler also accused party bosses of levying poll taxes of at least $50 for participation in post-vote district conventions, and even accused Randy Ruedrich of rigging his own district via teleconference to make sure Mitt Romney won a majority. Ruedrich denied all the allegations and characterized them as sour grapes.
But allegations of chicanery on the part of Ruedrich date back to 2003, when both he and Sarah Palin both served on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Palin accused Ruedrich of having a conflict of interest because as Republican Party chairman, Ruedrich also engaged in fund-raising from many of the same industries he regulated. Ruedrich eventually resigned from the commission. Shortly thereafter, Ruedrich admitted violating three separate ethics laws and was fined $12,000 by the Attorney General's office. The three specifications:
-- Misuse of official position by engaging in partisan political activity in his Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission office.
-- Improper disclosure of confidential information to a third party without authority. Ruedrich forwarded a confidential attorney-client privileged e-mail and attachment to attorney Kyle Parker, who represented Evergreen Resources on matters pertaining to methane gas development in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.
-- Incompatible outside voluntary service for the Republican Party of Alaska by acting contrary to the manner he said he would in his Ethics Act disclosure statement.
Update: Alaska Dispatch has since recorded reaction from Randy Ruedrich, who says his job as chairman is simply to maintain order among the factions of the state Republican Party. Specifically, Ruedrich said "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." But Ruedrich didn't offer to explain why only the Ron Paul campaign has reported problems.
But Ruedrich may have gone beyond words. The Daily Paul has posted the following communication from the Alaska Republican Party:
Some concern has recently arisen regarding the payment of delegate fees for next week’s Alaska Republican Party State Convention. Hopefully, this email will help to clear up any misconceptions.
(1) The party will accept delegate fees until the close of registration at the convention. The convention hotel requires a count of attendees by the end of today, however, and so those paying their delegate fees after today cannot be guaranteed meals at the convention.
(2) Payment of delegate fees may be made by personal check, credit card, or debit card. Cash, money orders, and corporate checks or credit cards may not be used to pay delegate fees.
(3) Delegates must pay their own fees. Third parties may not pay delegate fees on behalf of a delegate (family members may pay from a family account), nor can they promise to reimburse a delegate for their fees.
Ryan Fitzpatrick - Attorney
This means the problem may be on its way to being solved.
The bottom line: Randy Ruedrich's name has been linked to political chicanery far too often to dismiss the Ron Paul campaign's complaints as "sour grapes". There was reason to believe that the Alaska Republican Party has deliberately stacked the deck against Ron Paul.