The New York Federation of College Republicans voted Saturday to secede from the national committee. The decision comes in the wake of a July 13 report from the NYFCR which alleged that the national organization’s outgoing chairperson, Chandler Thornton, mismanaged millions in funds and violated the organization’s election bylaws.
The NYFCR is the second state branch to formally depart from the national organization in the College Republican National Committee’s 129-year history. On July 20, the Mississippi Federation of College Republicans voted to withdraw based on the charges of the report. Other state branches such as Texas, Florida and Oregon have also announced they intend to follow suit.
“This isn’t something that is going to be fixed by electing a new anti-corruption chair. The issue is institutional,” said Augustus LeRoux, chair of the NYFCR. “I’m hard pressed to think of anything the CRNC has done to advance the Republican cause.”
Unrest has been brewing for several months at the CRNC, which oversees an annual budget of more than $1 million and leads GOP volunteer efforts by university students at college Republican chapters in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
On July 13, the NYFCR published a dossier claiming that the national committee had failed to report at least $2 million in funding and misallocated more than $1 million in digital advertising in three separate fiscal years. The dossier alleged that just $164 of the $1 million advertising budget had been spent on Facebook ads.
When LeRoux questioned Thornton about the missing funds in a phone call on June 18, Thornton responded that he couldn’t directly provide a breakdown of the budget but that much of the money went into marketing outside of the organization and recruitment.
“The truth is nobody knows what happened,” LeRoux said. “The expenses that we do have and that we can look at doesn’t add up with the budget proposal. Speculation flies to whether this money was pocketed.”
The CRNC and Thornton did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Several state branches have also criticized the national org after a letter between Thornton and a Case Western University professor obtained by National Review pointed to tampering in an election for the new chairperson.
A rule in the CRNC Constitution says that state branches need to submit information about members by Feb. 1 to receive voting delegates. When more than a dozen federations had their credentials rejected, only some states that overwhelmingly supported national chair candidate Courtney Britt were granted voting delegates.
States that were disenfranchised were told they were required to submit a letter of certification from faculty advisors at each college chapter. But many college chapters that supported candidate Judah Waxelbaum were not notified of this stipulation.
In a statement to CRNC members published on Twitter, Thornton defended the voting procedure, saying that the convention operated within the organization’s rules, and that 17 federations either failed to submit documentation to receive voting delegates or chose not to appear.
In a letter sent to the national org, the chairperson of the Mississippi branch wrote that “leaders of the [CRNC] have proven to be more concerned with clinging on their own power than with empowering federations across the country.”
The NYFCR stated in their dossier that they plan on creating the framework for a new forum-based national organization for Republican college students in an effort to replace the current national committee, given that more states withdraw.
LeRoux said that there is an active effort among several states to create a national organization that is structured to provide checks and balances, as well as bring donation money directly to the state federations.
“If the CRNC has any hope of survival, the delegates of these 11 states must be reinstated immediately, and the anti-corruption movement must be allowed to reform the organization,” the NYFCR stated.