Note: The information contained within this report had been published by the New York, Federation of College Republicans from 7/13/21 and AF Journalism by Chief Trumpster, but has since been updated with new information from dozens of college republicans nationwide. It is our goal to inform College Republican members, leadership, and donors to abandon this failing organization in favor of the many independent state federations that have left the College Republican National Committee (CRNC).
Our organization, College Republicans United (CRU), was the first national organization to recollect these orgs under new management. We encourage you to share this information and support your local America First student chapter.
The College Republican National Committee (CRNC) is the collegiate wing of the Republican Party. It encompassed nearly every College Republican chapter in the nation, and was organized into 50 state federations, plus additional federations in Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. By the start of 2022 the CRNC has imploded with only 20 state federations left. By mid 2023 there are 8 remaining.
For over 130 years, the CRNC had overseen the activities of the GOP’s largest volunteer base, directed get-out-the-vote efforts, and been the deciding factor in an untold number of state and local elections. In recent years, it has consistently commanded annual budgets of over $1million. This investigation looked not only at questionable financial filings, but also their leadership. There are three prominent reasons why the CRNC has been failing college students across the country and its core values.
Financial Mismanagement – The CRNC has a well-documented history of mishandling money, including instances of extravagant executive salaries without transparency. Furthermore, the organization has consistently operated at a loss, spending more than it receives, while incurring exorbitant fees for consultants and other vendors. To make matters worse, the former Chairman, Chandler Thornton, went as far as concealing financial information from the appointed Treasurer. For several years, Chandler was the sole name listed on IRS filings, and he continues to receive payment even after leaving office.
Corruption – The CRNC has been involved in corrupt practices and has retaliated against those who raised concerns. Despite clear internal issues, the CRNC leadership has turned a blind eye to such behavior for an extended period. They deliberately disenfranchised 20% of the entire CRNC in order to manipulate executive elections. It later came to light that Thornton directly contacted chapters from states that supported his preferred candidate, ensuring their compliance, while neglecting to do the same for states supporting the opposition. During the appeals process, the arbitrator granted delegates to all states supporting Ms. Brittany, but denied almost all states supporting her opponent a vote.
Lack of Conservatism – Lastly, the CRNC’s leadership contradicts the principles of “America First.” The organization has aligned itself with groups that hold concerning beliefs, ranging from Never-Trumpers to supporting The Lincoln Project. There is a distinct absence of leadership representing the interests of the GOP. The CRNC has transformed into an entity that no longer reflects the conservative values it once espoused.
Since 2017, the CRNC has experienced a significant deviation from its mission, largely due to the actions of its former chairman, Chandler Thornton. Following an extensive investigation, it has been revealed that Thornton misused the organization’s funds, engaged in a widespread cover-up, and violated the CRNC’s own bylaws to suppress state federations critical of this corruption. Thornton’s attempts to obstruct transparency, including withholding information from the treasurer, have resulted in a staggering $2 million remaining unaccounted for.
Concerns initially arose in May when three budgets for the fiscal years 2018, 2020, and 2021 came to light. Notably, these budgets allocated a total of $1,050,000 for digital advertising, despite only $164 being verified as spent on digital ads during that period. A subsequent phone call between the NYFCR Chairman and Thornton on June 18 failed to provide any satisfactory answers, and a request for a breakdown of the expenditures was denied.
This phone call raised further concerns when Thornton claimed that the NYFCR had never sought support from the CRNC. However, under the previous NYFCR administration, multiple attempts were made to contact the CRNC through their former Executive Director, Ben Rajadurai, but received no response. In 2020, the NYFCR reached out to Mr. Rajadurai nine times via email, seeking assistance for a NYFCR-sponsored phone bank. Mr. Rajadurai even signed up to make calls on behalf of the NYFCR. Therefore, Thornton’s assertion that the previous NYFCR Chairman did not contact the CRNC is unequivocally false.
Another phone call between the NYFCR Chairman and National Treasurer Ty Seymour on June 28 raised further questions when Seymour alleged that Thornton had denied him access to the CRNC’s financial records, thus preventing him from fulfilling his responsibilities as outlined in the CRNC constitution. Notably, all IRS filings list Thornton as the sole custodian of the CRNC’s finances.
A year after Courtney Britt replaced Chandler Thornton as CRNC chair, an additional $47,475.68 was paid to Thornton for undisclosed “reimbursements.”
Financial Decay and Debt
The CRNC has consistently operated at a loss, failing to generate any profits throughout its existence. Every year has shown a significant surplus of expenses and a minimal amount of funds raised. Even prior to Chandler’s tenure, the CRNC managed to accumulate substantial debt. This alarming financial situation should have prompted urgent action, but unfortunately, no meaningful steps have been taken to address it.
In addition to the CRNC paying executives without clear justification, the outgoing Chairman, Chandler, receives a salary exceeding $90,000, while another executive, Ted Dooley, earned upwards of $95,000. The total staff payouts in 2018 alone amounted to over $200,000. The fact that these executives earn nearly six-figure salaries while the CRNC is facing severe financial difficulties demonstrates the lack of concern shown by the organization.
The allocation of funds towards various areas, such as consulting and advertising, raises serious concerns. For example, in 2018, over $160,000 was paid to Vertical Consulting for unspecified reasons. The outcomes and benefits of such consulting arrangements remain unclear, despite the substantial six-figure expense incurred each year. When members of the CRNC questioned these financial matters, their inquiries were disregarded. The total expenditure on consulting exceeded $600,000 in 2018 alone.
For years, the CRNC has been spending exorbitant fees on consulting services, without providing any insight into the nature of these services, the selection process for consulting firms, or why funds were not directed towards more meaningful causes. Additionally, over $155,000 was allocated to “special projects,” with $125,000 designated for “research on activism,” and the remainder allocated to “special communications.” While over $1,000,000 was spent on digital advertising, a mere $164 was utilized for Google Ads. The destination of the remaining expenditures remains untraceable. Requests to ascertain where these funds were utilized have been met with silence. Concerned CRNC groups have been denied access to information regarding these expenditures via email.
Nothing Spent in Georgia
While the CRNC has spent so much in the wrong direction, it was discovered that the CRNC had committed no significant resources to the Georgia runoff mobilization of 2021, despite requests for support from college republican members. Concerned groups requested financial support from the CRNC and received nothing. The fact the CRNC can spend so much on other areas and neglect impactful races shows how blind the CRNC is to issues that face the GOP. This is all occurring when even the Treasurer was being denied access by Chandler. Chandler Thornton’s name is on all the tax-filings, while the Treasurer’s name was not on IRS forms.
The CRNC has been financially ruined for over a decade-the fact hundreds of thousands goes to consulting, paying themselves, and for non-existent ads. Multiple attempts have been made to get financial information from the CRNC by concerned College Republicans. All attempts have been denied by Chandler. An eye-watering $90,000 goes to the Chairman of the CRNC must be addressed and resolved. It is absurd for the CRNC to allocate that much money while being in such significant debt. The CRNC must be held accountable for mismanaging finances and failing to address concerns from concerned CR Chapters. Rather than face these problems, Chandler, Courtney, and the CRNC decided to punish those who stood up.
After thorough examination by Jonathan Bailey and Grayson Massey – political operatives with extensive campaign finance experience – a virtual town hall centered around financial transparency was arranged for July 8. The campaign revealed that $202,000 was reported in unitemized expenditures in 2020 by Mr. Thornton, in stark violation of the legal $500 aggregate limit. Further, it was revealed that Mr. Thornton had spent $175,656 on fundraising consultants in 2021, outspending the sum total $87,50010 previously allotted for fundraising and consultants.
CRNC Action Scam
One particularly damaging revelation pertains to CRNC Action, a previously undisclosed PAC that misused the CRNC’s branding without the knowledge of its members. Notably, Mr. Thornton himself is listed as one of the three trustees of this PAC. CRNC Action gained prominence following Kid Rock’s satirical senate campaign in Michigan in 2018, during which he pledged $122,000 in merchandise revenue to the College Republicans. However, the recipient of this substantial donation was not the CRNC but Mr. Thornton’s deceptively-named private PAC. Curiously, none of the subsequent IRS filings by the CRNC identify any of the trustees or CRNC Action as contributors.
Another alarming concern revolves around Chandler Thornton compensating himself and his associate, Jay Goldstein. In 2017 alone, the CRNC disbursed over $18,500 to Chandler Thornton, the current Chairman, under the guise of travel expenses. Additionally, an amount exceeding $10,000 was paid to Jay Goldstein for legal fees. Jay Goldstein is connected to Chandler and has been implicated as a potentially biased arbitrator. The purpose of these payments remains unclear, leaving room for the possibility of personal financial gain, as there is no clear documentation or receipt to support the expenditure.
It is worth noting that Jay Goldstein is also involved in the unscrupulous CRNC Action PAC, where Chandler serves as a trustee and Edward (Ted) Dooley holds the position of President. A detailed breakdown of the direct payments Chandler and Jay received in 2017 can be found in the lower left section.
Stealing the 2021 Election
During the Summer of 2021, Chandler Thornton would be stepping down as Chair of the CRNC. Chandler had publicly endorsed his new successor but elections would determin his replacement.
The Louisiana Federation (LFCR), as led by Marine Corps veteran Collin McBride, was vocally against Ms Britt and supported the opposition. Mr Thornton decided to pursue a complaint against LFCR, citing procedural issues with the planning of their annual convention. Among the tenuous charges levied against LFCR was that they had violated their bylaws by misinterpreting the word “season”. A minor semantical issue which Mr. Thornton remedied by unilaterally by expelling the LFCR and installing a new, pro-Britt federation in its wake. Who greenlit this wildly disproportionate punishment as the overseer of the case? Ms. Britt herself. Read the full complaint here.
It is crucial to highlight that each state federation is required to undergo a credentialing process in order to receive delegates at the national convention in July. This process involves providing information about the individual chapters and overall membership of each federation, which is then verified by an auditing firm. By the February 1 deadline for credentialing, 22 states had their credentialing rejected for various reasons. When questioned by the NYFCR Chair, Mr. Thornton claimed that the auditing firm could not disclose the rationale behind their decisions. An appeal date was scheduled for June 17, and all affected states resubmitted their credentialing information for reconsideration.
On July 11, the final credentialing hearing took place at 3:00 am PST as directed by Mr. Thornton. An arbitrator was brought in to determine the validity of the states’ submissions. In a lengthy committee meeting lasting 11 hours and 24 minutes, a total of eleven states supporting the Ignite ticket had their delegations revoked. The justification for this action relied on a misinterpretation of the CRNC constitution by the national co-chair and presiding officer, Tom Ferrall. Mr. Ferrall incorrectly applied Article 5 §9.2, a provision pertaining to university letters of certification for late credentialing submissions, to all appeals from the pro-Ignite faction, despite their submissions being timely as evidenced by their receipts. Mr. Ferrall, openly displaying his disregard for the appeal process, dismissed any discussion about his flawed ruling, effectively disenfranchising 20% of the entire CRNC. Requests to make the recording of the credentialing hearing public have been ignored by the CRNC.
As a result of the establishment’s actions, one-fifth of the CRNC’s delegates were suppressed, leading Ms. Britt to secure a narrow lead in the race for National Chair with less than half of the country’s support. In response to criticism from the opposition ticket on social media, Ms. Britt took to her Twitter account to shame the disenfranchised state federations before pledging to work towards “uniting” the CRNC.
Subsequently, the establishment embarked on a systematic campaign to discredit and defame the states that were denied delegates. The targeted states included New York, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Montana, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, and South Dakota. Mr. Thornton failed to address the concerns raised by these organizations, focusing instead on protecting his increasingly tarnished public image.
RINO on RINO accusations
The extent of this scandal even drew condemnation from Thornton’s own board, with Treasurer Ty Seymour denouncing the election as full of “flagrant constitutional violations,” “intimidation,” and bribery from Thornton and Britt. In his speech to the convention, Seymour—previously one of Thornton’s strongest supporters—turned on his superior in front of the entire audience by declaring that “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And I want to thank Chandler Thornton, our national chairman, and Courtney Britt, the candidate for national office, for affirming that belief.”
Immigration is a major issue in the GOP. An immigration-monutorium has been shown to be popular not just with conservatives, but even with independents and liberals. Chandler has shown support for immigration, inherently America Last, and has stated immigration is the “bedrock of our country.”
In addition, Chandler hypocritically wrote, “The Republican Party has a toxic problem, and it’s time to fix it” in 2019, despite him engaging in suspicious behavior and kicking out pro-Trump groups in the past. In a social-justice manifesto, he claims the GOP has allowed “white-supremacy” in the party. Ironically enough, a Co-Chair of the CRNC, Tom Ferrall, an accomplice of Chandler, made some racist statements.
Perhaps instead of writing op-eds and sabotaging the CRNC, Chandler should address the prevalent problems in his inner circle. Additionally, the other members of the CRNC Leadership have unsurprisingly hold similar positions to Chandler.
Ben Rajadurai, an executive at the CRNC, claimed “seven fringe chapters” signed onto a letter advocating for an immigration freeze. He also has smeared Trump as an “idiot,” showing yet again the CRNC is filled with Never-Trumpers. He additionally claimed Hillary Clinton would be President in 2016 and called Trump “racist.”
His past statements can be seen below:
Retaliation Against California
The corrupt practice of kicking out state federations began in 2019 with the California College Republicans (CCR). CCR is California’s 58-year-old original College Republican organization. In 2018, CCR was the first to expose that the CRNC was facing financial ruin, and was thus one of the first states to oppose Chandler’s actions. Their representative to the CRNC Board of Directors meeting attempted to filibuster the passage of the bloated 2019 budget, but was ultimately defeated in a 49-1 vote.
Following this, Chandler allegedly helped bolster a new College Republican organization in California to topple CCR, supposedly to bury discussion of the CRNC’s finances and to ensure his re-election in 2019. In early 2019, a few clubs from CCR split off to form the California Federation of College Republicans (CFCR), who sought recognition from the CRNC.
It should come as no surprise the CRNC, despite claiming to be conservative, holds positions and values that aren’t conservative at all, and counter-signal the GOP.
CFCR was composed of Executive Board members who had notably stated “We are @ProjectLincoln Republicans. We stand with our fellow lifelong Republicans as part of this movement in not supporting the re-election of President Trump;” “Cheney ;” “I don’t want to deal w[ith] Trumpis[m] in CA and I think the return of moderates is the best way to move forward in this state;” and more. In contrast, CCR is the only socially conservative and pro-Trump College Republican state organization in California — they were the only Republican statewide organization in California to condemn Rep. David Valadao for his vote to impeach President Trump. They also remain the largest College Republican organization in the state, with 35+ chapters at nearly every major university. CFCR, meanwhile, has hemorrhaged support and controls mostly community colleges.
When CFCR petitioned the CRNC for a charter, Chandler gave CCR the opportunity to present a counter-petition to the allegedly biased arbitrator Jay Goldstein. Goldstein and Thornton, however, refused to review CCR’s counter-petition and together chose to recognize CFCR. The College Republican National Committee, under Chandler Thornton, unconstitutionally revoked CCR’s charter and awarded it to CFCR to bolster his re-election in 2019, to which much of the GOP ignored CCR’s requests for help and instead blamed them. The corruption was swept under the rug and ignored until this year, when Chandler revoked the recognition of the Louisiana College Republicans ahead of the current national election for his successor.
Additionally, Ty Seymour, the CRNC Treasurer who has allowed the CRNC to crumble in debt, made some telling statements about Trump as well. He claimed that Trump should be “kicked out of the party” in 2016, and double-downed by saying, “Not Trump, Not Ever.” He even admitted to being a RINO in a response to a tweet from President Trump in 2020, by claiming he was part of the “4%” Trump labeled as RINO. He liked tweets that stated Trump’s GOP was full of “fascism.” Maybe instead of melting down over Trump tweets, the CRNC Treasurer should have done his job and addressed the mismanaged finances that have plagued the CRNC for years. So far, nothing has been done about this, which shows that there will never be any solid action taken to address the concerning debt that has piled on.
The CRNC was wrong in 2016 to even oppose Trump, and shows lack of instinct. Leadership also endorsed the CFCR group at the direction of Chandler, who has in the past supported the Lincoln Project, a left-wing organization who allowed sexual harassment in exchange for power to go uncheked since its creation. Time and time again, the CRNC has failed to hold positions that accurately reflect its conservative base. The views of those in power do not reflect the America First values conservatives hold. We need leaders who are America First and who are strong on immigration, traditionalism, and trade.
Breakup of the College Republicans National Committee
As a result, multiple state federations have officially and completely de-chartered from the CRNC. Arizona, California, and Iowa have all joined the CRU, while Texas and New York have left the CRNC and are currently acting as their own independent organizations. This leaves the CRNC with zero representation in the three largest states in the country, and another two crucial swing states. Others that were denied a voice, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey delegations have left with only Florida remaining within the national organization. The writing on the wall points to a total collapse of one of the oldest Republican organizations in the country, after 130 years of existence. The split in the CRNC has been years in the making.
Today other organizations have risen to accumilate these various state federations and there has been a shuffling of chapters between them. Most are becoming carbon copies of the CRNC and are falling into the same mistakes. College Republicans United remains the only America First student organization in the country.