Fund-raiser raises eyebrows

State regulator of petroleum companies Randy Ruedrich schedules money-raising event at Petroleum Club in Anchorage

Posted: Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Questions about a conflict of interest are being asked again about Randy Ruedrich, the Republican Party of Alaska leader who sits on a commission that regulates oil and gas development in the state.

Last month, Ruedrich sent an e-mail notice of a fund-raiser for the state House Republican Majority Fund, according to the Anchorage Daily News. Ruedrich had been telling officials he had dropped state political fund raising to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest that could come from seeking state campaign dollars from the oil companies he regulates.

Anchorage Democratic Rep. Ethan Berkowitz, the House minority leader, said he received a copy of the e-mail. It shows Ruedrich is involved in state politics, Berkowitz said.

"It raises some serious ethical questions," Berkowitz said.

Ruedrich is one of three members of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, a state agency that regulates oil and gas development statewide. The job pays $118,000.

The fund-raiser was scheduled for Tuesday night at the Petroleum Club of Anchorage, a private club.

Ruedrich said Monday that he forwarded an e-mail notice of the event before he realized that it was a fund-raiser for the House GOP. He said he was looking at the event as a tribute to former Republican House Speaker Ramona Barnes, and not as a fund-raiser.

"I'm not sponsoring or co-hosting or in any other way participating in the event in a fund-raiser context," Ruedrich said.

The Oct. 13 e-mail notice said that the House GOP leadership was planning a major fund-raiser as a tribute to Barnes, a longtime Anchorage legislator. It notes the new contribution limit to the Republican Party of Alaska is $10,000.

The names of "Chairman Randy Ruedrich" and Anchorage Republican Rep. Norm Rokeberg are listed at the bottom of the notice.

Ruedrich on Monday initially disputed that his name was on the notice, according to the Daily News. When pressed, he said Rokeberg had sent him the e-mail and he forwarded it to party supporters without reading it.

Ruedrich said that he is no longer the sole party chairman and that he is now "chairman for federal operations" and doesn't deal with state elections or state political matters. Paulette Simpson is the party's chairwoman for state operations, he said.

The party's Web site lists Ruedrich as chairman and Simpson as vice chairman.

Rokeberg, a member of the House majority leadership, said he asked for the notice to be prepared. GOP party headquarters staff might have added Ruedrich's name as a mistake, he said.

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