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Castoff Millette going after Alaska GOP over 'misappropriation' of funds

Craig Medred
Members of the Republican state executive committee have repeatedly told Russ Millette that if he wants a thorough look at the party's financial records, they are on file at the APOC. Loren Holmes photo

Russ Millette, the "dually elected chairman" of the Republican Party "illegally ousted," as he has put it on his various websites, has declared war on his former counterparts.

Millette took to Facebook Wednesday to try to raise money to sue the party that put him in power -- no matter how briefly.

Millette claims in his Facebook post that the party has "money that was donated and cannot be accounted for and the establishment refuses to account for and seemingly does not want any accounting for the monies in question. The only way to find out how the Party money was spent is to have people subpoenaed and testify under oath and the only way we can do that is to file a lawsuit for the misappropriation of funds by the previous leadership. If I can raise $5,000, Dr. Ron Paul’s Liberty PAC will match up to $5,000 for a total of $10,000."

'Some allegations' 

By law in Alaska, the Republican Party -- like all political parties -- is required to report campaign contributions and expenditures to the Alaska Public Offices Commission. Paul Dauphinais, executive director of the APOC, said he had no reason to believe the Alaska Republican Party had any sort of secret slush fund.

He said the APOC has heard complaints from Millette. "He's made some allegations in the past," Dauphinais said, but he was not sure whether any of those ever developed into formal complaints. Dauphinais added that he was confident he would remember if any significant problems were ever found with the campaign finances of the state's most powerful political party.

Members of the Republican state executive committee have repeatedly told Millette that if he wants a thorough look at the party's financial records, they are on file at the APOC. Those Republicans say it makes no sense to spend thousands of dollars, possibly tens of thousands of dollars, on an audit of party finances when all the information is publicly available. Millette, however, continues to insist something nefarious is going on.

"...Now I understand that there are no assets in the ARP checking account,'' Millette writes in his Facebook post. "This obviously begs the question, 'What happened to the ARP money, and where did it go?' Money that was donated and cannot be accounted for and the establishment refuses to account for and seemingly does not want any accounting for the monies in question."

It has been widely reported in state media that the Anchorage-based Alaska Republican Party transferred its assets to the Juneau-based Capital City Republicans when it looked like Millette might take control of the party. A Yellow Pages salesman and Ron Paul supporter, the 67-year-old was elected party chairman at a contentious April 2012 convention that attracted Paul supporters from across the state. Millette's win was at the time seen as a victory for anti-establishment elements of the Republican Party.

"They tried every maneuver they could, but God prevailed,” he told a convention crowd after the vote. At the time of his election as incoming party chairman, Millette immediately moved into the post of party finance chairman.

His failure to raise any funds as finance chair led the party heirarchy to oust him in January of this year, just before he could step into the official roll as party chairman. Millette and vice-chair elect Debbie Brown have been going at it with the Republican old guard ever since. The party's statewide executive committee plans an April 8 meeting to decide whether Brown, the acting chairman since Millette's removal, has shown the ability to perform as party chairman.

'Shift of values'

Millette contends the party is engaged in dirty dealing.

"This election represented a tremendous shift of values towards the grass-roots elements of our party and away from the longstanding autocratic ruling philosophy,'' his Facebook post said. "The previous leadership . . . disagreed with the election results and has sought to disenfranchise the delegates by nullifying the election results by having me removed from office on spurious charges, and now Debbie, with the same spurious charges."

Longtime party regulars counter that Millette and some Paul supporters conspired to hijack the existing Republican Party in an effort to turn it into some new party. The beginnings of this fight go back years. In January, Millette admitted he'd made no attempt to bridge party divides as party chairman-elect. He confessed he hadn't even bothered to meet with U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, one of the state's most powerful Republicans.

Serious party fireworks trace their origin to her father Frank Murkowski's spat with Wasilla mayor Sarah Palin. Frank resigned from the U.S. Senate to run for governor, won and then appointed Lisa to fill his old Senate seat instead of Palin. An angered Palin then ran for governor, beat Frank, and tried to set up crony Joe Miller, a Fairbanks attorney, to topple Lisa. Before that could happen, Palin herself ran for vice president, lost and decided to quit her job as governor to become a political celebrity.

Ron Paul supporters gain momentum 

Miller forged ahead nonetheless and beat Lisa in the 2010 Republican primary. But the incumbent subsequently ran an unprecedented write-in campaign to beat Miller in the general election and hang onto her seat.

Afterwards, Miller supporters threw their support to Paul supporters to help elect Millette head of the state Republican Party at the 2012 party convention, where those in attendance not only booed Murkowski but also visiting Sen. John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming who made the mistake of saying he was supporting Republican Mitt Romney's presidential bid. 

Romney lost in November. The Alaska Republican Party infighting has, however, continued.

Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com