The Issues: Debra Brown apparently lacked the capability to raise sufficient money for the party. She had been able to raise less than $1,000 since taking over from Millette; monthly costs are said to be around $4,000. In addition, Brown is said to have tried to fire members of the party’s state executive committee, and when they refused to go, she allegedly changed the locks on the party headquarters in Midtown Anchorage and left the state. When the executive committee called her up on charges of failure to meet her responsibilities as chair, she refused to appear.
Debra Brown reacts: The reason Brown wasn't in town was because she was attending a Republican National Committee meeting in California. She disputed the allegations against her in a phone interview with KTUU, saying “I have done nothing wrong - the complaint and charges are unfounded and harassing in nature...I believe it's time that the grassroots and Alaskan Republicans push back to these unreasonable actions by this smaller group of Republicans.” To KTVA Channel 11, Brown identified her specific accusers by name, voicemailing "I will say that the charges filed against me by both Bruce Schulte and Randy Ruedrich are unfounded and harassing in nature and should be dismissed."
Update April 10th: Alaska Republican Party Secretary Alicé Leuchte has published a letter challenging the validity of the change, for four reasons:
-- The outcome was predetermined (March 12) before charges were even filed (March 14)
-- 25 percent of the voting membership did not call the meeting (March 24-26)
-- The complaint [filed by Bruce Schulte] did not go through the proper process before the call of the meeting.
-- The complaint was reviewed by the new Rules Committee and was determined to be unfounded (April 6).
Update April 13th: Because of this dispute, neither Debra Brown nor Peter Goldberg were allowed to take the seat of the Alaska chairman at the committee meeting in California. This dispute is now making us look like a bunch of dorks nationally.
The Successor: Peter Goldberg, a retired colonel, represents a return to adult leadership; the inmates are no longer in charge of the asylum. Even though Goldberg was presiding over the meeting in the absence of Brown, he was visibly trying his best to be fair and even opened the floor to some comments by non-committee members. After the vote was taken to remove Brown, Goldberg unveiled several new fundraising plans after making a short statement about his own motivations. He said he has no allegiances to any group in the Alaska fight, and portrayed himself as a draftee trying to pull the party together. Goldberg also stated that the executive committee will send Brown a letter suggesting that if she disagrees with her ouster, she should appeal it to the Republican statewide steering committee when it meets in Homer on May 25th, like Russ Millette is doing. Goldberg also explained that Debra Brown's political views has nothing to do with her ouster, and that he now wants to get on with the big job of healing the party and bring back together the people who think we are a factual divided state.
It is a relief to see an adult back in charge of the Alaska Republican Party. But Barbara Clinton disagrees, and posted the following comment on Dispatch: "Can't raise a dime? Must be Debbie's fault. Not the Murkowski fiasco, not the kangaroo's and rinos that run the party, not the national republicans, not the karl rove's expertise and not the don-speak either. Nah, it is Debbie's fault or Russ's fault. Get randy back and see how many arms he can twist and perhaps get a nickle. Do me a favor and put me on the do not call list! I can waste a nickle on my own".
There's also disagreement expressed on Restoring Liberty, where Matt Johnson, who worked in Joe Miller's Senate campaign and who reflects the perspective of his principal, characterized Debra Brown's removal as a "political lynching". Johnson says that when he conferred with ARP Rules Chair Frank McQueary, who was Russ Millette's chief accuser, and asked McQueary what could be done to patch up the state party, McQueary reportedly said "Nothing". Consequently, Matt Johnson writes this off as a coup d'etat by the elite:
Notwithstanding the protests of my Establishment friends, this whole sordid affair had nothing to do with Russ Millette or Debbie Brown. Just like the last episode had nothing to do with Joe Miller. Or the one before with Sarah Palin . . . or the Christian Coalition of the 90′s . . . or the Moral Majority of the 80′s . . .
It had everything to do with ruling class entitlement, corruption, and a group of despotic power mongers who leverage political power for personal aggrandizement, and shake down State and Federal Treasuries for the enrichment of their friends and family. Can we say crony capitalist?
They are the folks who for a generation propped up Ted Stevens, the Murkowskis, and Don Young while they colluded with lawyers, lobbyists, corporatists, and other corrupt politicians in Washington to create a network that would bring the gravy train to Alaska and keep it flowing. Our delegation and their “partners in crime” are known inside the beltway as “the Alaska Mafia.” No joke.
Sadly, the ARP’s role in enabling big government and crony capitalism has made it a willing accomplice in the bankrupting of America. The struggle you see going on now is for the heart and soul of the Republican Party in the Last Frontier. Nothing more. Nothing less.
With rhetoric like this, how much of a chance does Joe Miller really have to become the Republican nominee to face Mark Begich in 2014? Miller has been behind much of the insurgency. A pox on both houses.