Phillips is miffed at Republicans over complaint

Posted: Sunday, September 08, 2002

Brad Phillips says he was ambushed by the Republican Party.

Phillips owns Phillips Cruises, a tour boat company that operates in Prince William Sound, and was the subject of a complaint filed by the GOP with the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

The complaint alleges Phillips gave Democrat Fran Ulmer a substantial discount to hold a fund-raiser aboard his tour boat in May.

According to the complaint filed Wednesday, Phillips charged $1,232 for a $15,000 cruise. The three-hour cruise was held May 11 as part of a fund-raiser for Ulmer's gubernatorial campaign.

Phillips said his office received a call from someone at the Republican Party of Alaska who asked what the company charged for a normal cruise but did not divulge the reason for the call.

Normal cruises involve a 135-mile trip, which differed from the 12-mile, three-hour tour that the fund-raiser involved, Phillips said. The two are not comparable, he said.

"I think that was a sleazy thing they did," Phillips said. "I've spent most of my life helping Republicans."

Phillips served as a Republican state senator from 1961-70 and served as Senate president before retiring.

He said the tour boat was used after the business was closed and that staff volunteered their time to work during the fund-raiser. The total cost of the boat's operation for that May 11 fund-raiser was paid for by the Ulmer campaign, he said.

This is the same offer that he made to other candidates including Republican gubernatorial candidate Frank Murkowski, U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens and Gail Phillips, who unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor, he said.

None of the others accepted the offer.

Phillips said despite being a Republican, he supports candidates regardless of their party affiliation. He said he supports Ulmer but offered the cruise to Murkowski as well because he's known the U.S. senator for several years.

The state Republican Party alleged that the tour should be considered a campaign contribution.

Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich said the value of the tour also exceeds the $500 limit set on individual campaign contributions to candidates.

Phillips said he was offended by the APOC charge and said "if I have to go to court, I will."

"I did not want him to feel offended," Ruedrich said. "I was just trying to ensure the Democrat Party and its candidates comply with the campaign finance laws of the state."

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