GOP questions conservation group spending

Posted: Thursday, October 26, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The state Republican party filed a complaint Tuesday with the Alaska Public Offices Commission accusing a conservation group of giving too much money to a political candidate and raising a broader question about the source of the group's funds.

Republican Party of Alaska chairman Randy Ruedrich said the Alaska Conservation Voters has funneled more than $100,000 from its general operating account into its political account since May without saying where that money was raised. He said that violates the spirit, if not the letter, of campaign reform laws requiring disclosure of campaign contributions.

''Where's the money coming from? Who knows? We believe the source of these funds to be the out-of-state environmental extremist groups, including Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund,'' Ruedrich wrote in his complaint.

Mary Core, executive director of Alaska Conservation Voters, denied any wrongdoing and said the group has stepped up activity to try to change who gets elected to the Legislature.

In the 1998 election, the conservation group could only endorse candidates and encourage member groups to make donations. But a state Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance last year freed qualifying nonprofit corporations, such as Alaska Conservation Voters, to raise money and donate to political campaigns, as long as they don't raise money from businesses.

Core would not specify where the money for the donations was raised. The group doesn't have to, she said, noting the same Supreme Court case.

The Republicans also claim the conservation group exceeded the $1,000-per-candidate donation limit. Ruedrich said the group gave Democrat Mark Handy, the District 23 opponent of Republican Rep. Eldon Mulder, $1,000 in cash and then held a pizza party fund-raiser for him at an estimated cost of $1,361.

The conservation group listed the pizza party as an independent expenditure, which is legal as long as the group did not coordinate the event with Handy.

APOC director Karen Boorman said she is investigating.

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