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Arizona College Republicans consider breaking from national organization

College Republican chapters across the nation are voting to secede from the College Republican National Committee after a controversial chair election


"The logo for the College Republicans National Committee." Graphic published on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. 

The Arizona Federation of College Republicans is considering leaving the College Republican National Committee after a series of slights that ended in ASU alumnus Judah Waxelbaum losing a controversial election for CRNC chair.

Waxelbaum and other members of CRNC chapters have claimed the CRNC chair election was rigged in favor of his opponent, Courtney Britt, by the current chair emeritus Chandler Thornton. The Arizona College Republicans, a federation joining together chapters from ASU, UA, NAU and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, is one of 52 federations under the CRNC.

According to emails obtained by the National Review, the CRNC presented a new interpretation of its constitution a week before the convention. Waxelbaum and others claim the move ensured states that would have supported him wouldn’t have the proper documentation to be granted votes. 

Typically, states that don’t submit proof of their chapter’s existence by the yearly Feb. 1 deadline are required to procure letters from two universities confirming these chapters exist. States that submit documentation on Feb. 1 are not required to submit two letters when appealing for votes.

This year, the rule was interpreted so that any state that wanted to appeal for votes after the deadline needed two letters. 

In a July 11 meeting to go over the appeals submitted, every state supporting Waxelbaum was denied their appeal, while every state supporting Britt was granted their appeal. The CRNC subsequently disenfranchised 10 states that had pledged to vote for Waxelbaum. 

"We later found out that the national chairman was actually personally procuring these letters on behalf of my opponent to ensure that her states had these letters, clearly in preparation of this new interpretation," Waxelbaum said.

Waxelbaum said his opponent’s states submitted their letters only two hours before the appeal hearing, ensuring his states wouldn’t be aware of the interpretation in time to procure the letters. 

Neither Britt nor Thornton replied to requests for comment.

Arjun Rondla, a junior studying political science and an Arizona delegate at the CRNC convention, said this isn’t the only transparency issue the organization has.

"Almost no states or members of the CRNC have actually received a copy of the constitution, which says a lot about the overall transparency of the selection process and the CRNC as a whole," Rondla said.

Prior to the chair election held in July, the Arizona federation ran into another conflict with the CRNC when they tried to impeach their newly elected chairman, Alton Zhang, former president of the UA College Republicans.

"As the chapter president of the University of Arizona College Republicans, (Zhang) officially de-chartered his group from the College Republican National Committee to join the College Republicans United," said Joe Pitts, the current acting chairman of the AFCR.

College Republicans United is a controversial spinoff group created by former members of the ASU College Republicans. Members boast more extreme right-wing views than the original College Republicans group and have come under fire for racist and antisemitic comments. 

The CRNC sided with Zhang, saying in a statement that the chairman’s removal did not go through the proper constitutional channels and procedures to be considered valid.

Pitts, a junior studying management and the president of ASU College Republicans, says these two incidents are not isolated. 

"It's highly suspicious that they side with someone like (Zhang) who was trying to divide the CRNC," Pitts said. "At the same time, they're trying to discredit Judah in the middle of a campaign upon which the votes of Arizona might flip the election toward (him)."

Britt won the election for chair, prompting the New York and Mississippi federations to leave the CRNC in protest, with several more announcing meetings to vote on secession. 

As of publication, the Arizona federation has not voted to secede from the CRNC, but a vote is imminent, according to Pitts.

"It will be an item of discussion at our next federation meeting to discuss our relationship with the CRNC and what we choose to do with them in the future, but we're already seeing from big states all across the country that the CRNC is fracturing," Pitts said.

Waxelbaum, Rondla and Pitts agreed that leaving the CRNC will not have a large impact on the Arizona federation.

"There's effectively no difference for a state that is in the CRNC or outside of the CRNC, other than having a national body that takes credit for your work," Waxelbaum said. "The only thing the CRNC ever gave me in my three terms as Arizona State chair was an annual box full of cups, ping pong balls and bottle openers to give out during tabling."

Pitts said college chapters won’t be discouraged from being friendly with the CRNC if the Arizona federation votes to leave the organization.

"As the president of ASU College Republicans, I see no reason to have outright animosity toward the CRNC," Pitts said. "If they want to send us chapter boxes, and they want to help us, that's great."

Pitts and Rondla said there will be a national impact created by the fracturing of the CRNC.

"What will certainly change, is this national recognition that the largest and the official college Republicans organization of the country is now split in two because you've had some people at the top of leadership take advantage of their roles to disenfranchise certain states," Pitts said.

As for Waxelbaum, he said he’s washing his hands of the ordeal and the CRNC. On July 26, he announced he would be the chair of the engagement committee for the Young Republican National Federation, a group that seeks to recruit and elect Republican officials.

"I'm not a part of any group trying to start a new organization, I am not actively leading states in secession," Waxelbaum said. "I did call for independence from the CRNC in my workbook session statement, but ever since then, I'm done."

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