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), is the only national organization that has begun 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 remaining.
For 129 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.
Mismanaging Money – The CRNC has a long history of wasteful spending, and has even paid executives high salaries without transperency. In addition, there has not been a single year where the CRNC has been profitable. The CRNC has always spent more money than it has received, while paying ridiculous fees for consultants and other vendors. To top it off, Former Chairman Chandler Thornton even hid finances from his own appointed Treasurer. Chandler was the only name listed on the IRS filings for several years and is still being paid after leaving office.
Corruption – CRNC has engaged in corrupt behavior and has punished those who voiced concern. The leadership of CRNC has allowed this to happen for years without any steps to address clear internal issues. They disenfranchised 20% of the entire CRNC to rig executive elections. It was later discovered Thornton directly contacted chapters whose state supported his endorsed candidate to ensure they were in compliance, but did not do the same for states who supported the oppositon. Following the appeals process, the arbitrator granted delegates to all the states supporting Ms Brittany but denied almost all the states supporting her opponent a vote.
Not Conservative – Lastly, the CRNC has leadership that runs counter to America First. The CRNC has sided with groups with concerning beliefs. From being Never-Trumpers to supporting The Lincoln Project, there is no clear sense of leadership representing the interests of the GOP. The CRNC has morphed into an organization that doesn’t reflect values that conservatives hold.
Since 2017, the CRNC has fallen dramatically short of its mission, owed to sabotage by its previous chairman, Chandler Thornton. After months of investigation, it is now known that the national chairman misappropriated the organization’s funds, has actively engaged in a wide-ranging coverup, and violated the organization’s own bylaws to suppress state federations critical of this corruption. Mr. Thornton’s efforts to prevent transparency – including the stonewalling of his own treasurer – have also left at least $2million entirely unaccounted for.
Questions were first raised in May when three budgets outlining fiscal years 2018, 2020, and 2021 began circulating. Most notable was the budgets’ sum total of $1,050,000 allocated to digital advertising, given that only $164 had verifiably been spent on digital ads during that timeframe. A subsequent phone call on June 18 between the NYFCR Chairman and Mr. Thornton did not yield any answers, and a request to see a breakdown of the expenditures was denied.
This phone call brought about even more concerns after Mr. Thornton alleged that the NYFCR had never reached out for CRNC support. Under the previous NYFCR administration, attempts to contact the CRNC via their former Executive Director Ben Rajadurai fell on deaf ears. In 2020, the NYFCR emailed Mr. Rajadurai on nine separate occasions to receive aid in a NYFCR sponsored phone bank. Mr. Rajadurai himself even signed up to make calls on behalf of the NYFCR. Mr. Thornton’s assurance that the previous NYFCR Chairman had not contacted the CRNC are demonstrably untrue.
A further phone call between the NYFCR Chairman and National Treasurer Ty Seymour on June 28 raised additional questions after Mr. Seymour alleged that Mr. Thornton had barred him from the CRNC’s financial records, preventing him from fulfilling his responsibilities as outlined in the CRNC constitution. Indeed, Mr. Thornton’s name appears on all IRS filings as the sole custodian of the CRNC’s finances.
A year after Courtney Britt had replaced Chandler Thornton as CRNC chair, another $47,475.68 was paid to Mr Thornton for undisclosed “reimbursements”.
Financial Decay and Debt
The CRNC has never made a profit. Every single year has shown an excess of expenses and minimal funds raised. Even before Chandler, the CRNC has managed to rack up enormous debt. This should have been a major concern for the CRNC, but nothing has been done to address this.
Additionally, on top of the CRNC paying executives for unclear reasons, the salary for Chandler, the outgoing Chairman, exceeds $90,000. Ted Dooley, another executive, earned upwards of $95,000. In total, staff payouts in 2018 amounted to over $200,000. The fact that the executives earn a salary close to six-figures while the CRNC is in financial ruin shows how little the CRNC cares.
The amount of money that has gone towards various areas such as consulting and advertising are concerning. For instance, in 2018, upwards of $160,000 went to Vertical Consulting for unclear reasons. There is no clear understanding of the result of consulting, which is a six-figure expense each year. As stated before, when organizations in the CRNC questioned the finances, they were shot down. Consulting totals exceed $600,000 in 2018 alone.
For years, the CRNC has spent ridiculous fees on consulting. We have no knowledge of what occurred during consulting, the reason why the firms were picked, and why funds could have been diverted to other causes. Additionally, over $155,000 went towards “special projects.” $125,000 went towards “research on activism,” and the rest went towards “special communications.”. While over $1,000,000 went towards digital advertising, a meager $164 was spent on Google Ads. The rest of the money spent cannot be traced. Attempts to identify where those expenses went have not been answered. Further requests for those expenditures by concerned CRNC groups were denied 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 recent 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
Most damning was the revelation of CRNC Action, a previously unknown PAC making use of the CRNC’s branding without its members’ knowledge. Seated as one of its 3 trustees is Mr. Thornton himself. CRNC Action only came to relevance after Kid Rock’s tongue-in-cheek 2018 senate campaign in Michigan, where he pledged $122,000 in merchandising revenue to the College Republicans. The recipient of this sizable donation was not the CRNC however, it was Mr. Thornton’s deceptively-named private PAC. In none of the CRNC’s subsequent IRS filings do any of the trustees or CRNC Action appear as contributors.
Another major red flag involves Chandler Thornton paying himself as well as his accomplice, Jay Goldstein. Just in 2017, the CRNC gave over $18,500 to Chandler Thornton, the current Chairman, under travel. In addition, the CRNC gave over $10,000 to Jay Goldstein for legal fees, an affiliate of Chandler, who has been known to have been an allegedly biased arbitrator. The reason for payment is unclear, and leaves room for them to pocket money for themselves, as there is no clear receipt.
Jay Goldstein is also part of the boot-leg PAC, CRNC Action, where Chandler is a trustee and Edward (Ted) Dooley is President. A detailed breakdown of the money Chandler and Jay directly received from 2017 can be found on the bottom left.
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 important to note that every state federation must undergo a credentialing process in order to receive delegates at the July national convention. This would include information regarding each federation’s individual chapters and total membership, which would then be sent to an auditing firm for verification. Following the February 1 deadline for credentialing, 22 states had their credentialing rejected for varying reasons. When asked by the NYFCR Chair, Mr. Thornton insisted that the auditing firm could not disclose their reasoning. An appeal date was set for June 17, and all affected states resubmitted their credentialing for consideration.
On July 11, the final hearing for credentialing was held at 3:00am PST per the direction of Mr. Thornton, and an arbitrator was called in to rule on the validity of the individual states’ submissions.18 In a marathon committee meeting which lasted for 11 hours and 24 minutes, a total of eleven pro-Ignite states were stripped of their delegation. The reasoning hinged on a distortion of the CRNC constitution, a blatantly false interpretation made unilaterally by the national co-chair and presiding officer Tom Ferrall. Specifically, Mr. Ferrall misused Article 5 §9.2, a provision requiring university letters of certification for all late credentialing submissions, and applied it to all pro-Ignite appeals, despite them having been submitted in a timely manner as substantiated by their receipts.19 Mr. Ferrall, who made his contempt for the appeal efforts abundantly clear through his characterization of the hearing as a “waste of time”, dismissed any and all debate regarding his fallacious ruling, effectively disenfranchishing 20% of the entire CRNC. Requests to make the CRNC’s recording of the credentialing hearing public have gone unanswered.
With the establishment having now suppressed the delegates of one fifth of the CRNC, Ms. Britt for the first time obtained a lead in the race for National Chair, with less than half the support of the country. In response to the opposition ticket’s outcry on social media, Ms. Britt took to her own Twitter account to shame the disenfranchised state federations, before going on and promising that she would seek to “unite” the CRNC.
From this moment on, the establishment engaged in a systematic campaign to discredit and slander those states who had been denied delegates. The targets of this campaign included New York, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Montana, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, and South Dakota. At no point did Mr. Thornton respond to the concerns of these organizations, instead being more pre-occupied with defending his increasingly deteriorating 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 129 years of existence. The split in the CRNC has been years in the making.