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RAGA finance director resigns amid January 6 robocall fallout

It’s at least the third resignation since the Republican Attorneys General Association’s involvement in a rally before the Capitol attack.

A banner left by a supporter of President Donald Trump stands in front of the U.S. Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington. (AP PHOTO/MANUEL BALCE CENETA)

The finance director for the Republican Attorneys General Association has resigned, and in an email to attorneys general said she was doing so because of the association’s nomination as director a man who the finance director said approved robocalls urging people to attend the Jan. 6 rally at the U.S. Capitol. 

The association’s former director, Adam Piper, resigned in January after mounting criticism once the involvement of the group’s dark money fundraising arm, the Rule of Law Defense Fund, in the deadly rally became publicly known. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall heads the RLDF. 

Ashley Trenzeluk, RAGA’s finance director, in her email to Republican attorneys general in the association wrote:

“Generals, 

“Following my verbal resignation with Nick Maddux and General Marshall this past weekend I’m writing to let you know that I’m resigning as RAGA’s Finance Director. 

“As RLDF Executive Director, Pete Bisbee approved the robocall expenditure, and was the only other person accountable for RLDF involvement in the January 6 events. Over the last few months, I have fielded, reassured and assuaged concerns from our core donor base on the future direction of our organization. The result of the executive committee vote to nominate Pete as RAGA’s Executive Director is a decision I cannot defend. 

“I’ve Fundraised for Republican AG’s and RAGA for the last six years, and have enjoyed getting to know all of you, your teams and fundraisers and the donors who have supported us. My top priority has always been to raise as many resources as possible to achieve our main mission to elect and reelect Republican AG’s. I’m truly proud of my team and what we’ve been able to accomplish over the past cycles.”

Attempts to reach Trenzeluk Thursday through a cell phone and personal email address she listed in the email to the AGs were unsuccessful, but APR has confirmed through other sources that Trenzeluk resigned from RAGA. A RAGA spokesman also did not respond to APR’s email regarding her resignation nor to questions about the appointment of a new RAGA director. 

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Prior to the protest, RLDF sent out robocalls detailing when and where citizens should meet, which was first reported by the watchdog investigative journalism group Documented. 

“We will march to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal,” the robocall says, as recorded by Documented. “We are hoping patriots like you will join us to continue to fight to protect the integrity of our elections. For more information, visit MarchtoSaveAmerica.com. This call is paid for and authorized by the Rule of Law Defense Fund.” 

It’s been more than three months since Marshall said he’d conduct an “internal review” of RLDF’s role in aiding in the Jan. 6 rally, but APR’s attempts Thursday and earlier this month to inquire about that review have been unsuccessful. A RAGA spokesman hasn’t responded to inquiries. 

Marshall, in a Jan. 8 message to APR, said he had no knowledge of his organization’s role in the robocalls and said he had “directed an internal review of this matter.” 

“I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the actions of those who attempted to storm the U.S. Capitol, a place where passionate but peaceful protestors had gathered and lawmakers debated inside,” Marshall said in the statement. 

Adam Piper, the former RAGA director, in a response to APR in January before he resigned, said the group had no role in planning the rally. 

“The Republican Attorneys General Association and Rule of Law Defense Fund had no involvement in the planning, sponsoring, or the organization of yesterday’s rally. No Republican AG authorized the staff’s decision to amplify a colleague speaking at the rally,” Piper said. 

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Charles Herbster, who was then the national chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Advisory Committee in Trump’s administration, also placed Piper at a Jan. 5 meeting with top Trump aides and sons at Trump’s Washington D.C. hotel.

Marshall told the Montgomery Advertiser on Jan. 11 that the internal review was ongoing and seemed to signal that as a private nonprofit, RLDF isn’t required to discuss personnel matters.

“We’re a private agency. A nonprofit we don’t necessarily publicly announce what goes on from an employee discipline standpoint, but we are engaging in a vigorous review and we will get that completed here shortly,” Marshall told the newspaper’s Brian Lyman.

Piper resigned as director of RAGA on Jan. 12. Attempts to contact Piper since then have been unsuccessful. 

Trenzeluk’s resignation comes as Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr also resigned as RAGA’s chairman, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. 

“The fundamental difference of opinion began with vastly opposite views of the significance of the events of January 6 and the resistance by some to accepting the resignation of the executive director,” Carr wrote in an April 16 letter obtained by the Journal-Constitution, the newspaper reported. “The differences have continued as we have tried to restore RAGA’s reputation internally and externally and were reflected once again during the process of choosing the next executive director.”

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Eddie Burkhalter
Written By

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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