I’ve talked about this before, but when CNN talks about it, it has to be bad.
There’s another budget crisis in Washington, and it’s unfolding inside the Democratic party. The Democratic National Committee remains so deeply in the hole from spending in the last election that it is struggling to pay its own vendors.
It is a highly unusual state of affairs for a national party — especially one that can deploy the President as its fundraiser-in-chief — and it speaks to the quiet but serious organizational problems the party has yet to address since the last election, obscured in part by the much messier spectacle of GOP infighting.
The Democrats’ numbers speak for themselves: Through August, 10 months after helping President Obama secure a second term, the DNC owed its various creditors a total of $18.1 million, compared to the $12.5 million cash cushion the Republican National Committee is holding.
Several executives at firms that contract to provide services to the party — speaking anonymously to avoid antagonizing what remains an important if troubled client — describe an organization playing for time as they raise alarms about past-due bills falling further behind. And senior strategists close to the DNC say they worry the organization appears to have no road map back to solvency. “They really thought they could get this money raised by the summer,” one said, “but the fact is, from talking to people over there, they have no real plan for how to solve this.”
DNC national press secretary Michael Czin says the committee is working with vendors on a case-by-case basis to pay down their tabs. And filings show the organization over the last five months has made $4.5 million in payments to the Amalgamated Bank and appears to be hewing to a $1 million-per-month installment schedule now. “While we work to retire our debt, we’re not taking our foot off the pedal and are making the investments that will help ensure that Democrats are successful in 2014, 2016, and beyond,” Czin said. He pointed to ongoing work by the DNC’s National Finance Committee, which met over the weekend in Colorado to discuss fundraising strategy.
Last week August fund raising numbers were released, in them they showed the RNC had pulled down $6.8 million to the DNC’s $4.3 million.
DNC debt increased from $18.1 million to $18.2 million.
Why is this news?
Well, for a party with an occupant in 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, any sort of fund raising problem — especially this bad — is going to be noticed. Typically, having the White House means more money, not less. Oh, sure money is flowing to the committees (The DSCC is scorching the NRSC this cycle, which should worry those hoping for a GOP Senate takeover.) for 2014, but this is not exactly something a major party wants to see.
Part of the problem is that the Obama White House has little to no trust in DNC Chairwoman (and Florida Congresswoman) Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Another is that Organizing for America, the post-Obama presidential campaign apparatus has urged giving to it instead of the DNC. The White House has essentially cut the knees out of its own party apparatus all for the sake of promoting its own agenda.
That’s great and all…if the American people want said agenda. (Clearly if you have to campaign for it after winning re-election, they probably don’t.)
The other factor, and I’ve said this before, is that a DNC in serious financial straights puts all state Democratic parties in financial straights. How much cash on hand does DPW have?
Are the lack of DNC monies — or the concern that Tate won’t be able to deliver them in 2014 — one of the reasons why Democrats appear ready to hand their gubernatorial nomination to a woman who’s sole electoral service is a local school board? Because she can afford a campaign they can’t?
Probably. There’s very little reason not to think otherwise at this moment.