Thursday, January 23, 2014

2 Couples Keep Lights On At Arizona Democratic Party In 2013; Party's Federal Account In Deep Red Ink

(Clarifications, reaction, 1:30pm:  Please see the bottom of this article for an explanation from the Arizona Democratic Party's Executive Director, and some clarifications.)

A couple of couples were chiefly responsible for keeping the lights on for the entire Arizona Democratic Party in 2013, and the state party is carrying bills that normally should be paid on a monthly basis.  Financial reports filed at both the state and federal levels paint a grim picture coming out of a non-election year.  The federal account is more than $58,000 in the red - larger than either major Arizona party has experienced in recent years.

It is a Chair's Club, so to speak, that provided more than half* (54%) of the party's operating cash receipts during the last month of 2012 and all of 2013 - $292,500 out of $542,353, as reported to the Arizona Secretary of State's office.  

Current Chairperson Bill Roe and his wife Alice bankroll $155,000 of the parties expenditures, and past chair Jim Pederson and his wife spent another $137,500 to pay the bills.  The party starts 2014 with a balance of just over $19,000 in that operating account.

The 2013 contributions by the couples actually represent a slow year for the Roes and Pedersons - even when you include their other political donations.  (The Roes and the Pedersons also made about $75,000 - each - in other federal contributions, according to a search at the Center for Responsive Politics -  Pederson - a successful commercial real estate developer in Phoenix - has spent large amounts of their own money on Democratic causes (including his unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate), and the Roes (Bill is a successful attorney) spent approximately half-a-million dollars on Democratic candidates and causes in 2012.

The Arizona Democrats' most recent monthly report filed with the Federal Election Commission ("FEC") shows an even bleaker picture for the account through which the Arizona party operates on the federal level.  As of November 30, 2013, the cash on hand was only $10,906, while the unpaid bills totaled $69,419.  Digging deeper, those mounting bills not only include the common slow pays for vendors, but include credit card balances in which no payments were made during November.* (A check of previous monthly reports indicate that not even the minimum payment were made in October or November, and that one card did not have a payment made in September.*)

A couple of quick comparisons are in order to put this in perspective.  First, the Arizona Democrats' comparable FEC report in 2011 showed cash on hand of only $8,319 but NO DEBTS; it was in the black.
Second, the Arizona Republican Party - which has had their own lean times, as documented previously by Arizona's Politics and others - filed their FEC report for the period ended November 30, 2013, and showed a robust cash on hand of $144, 303 (with no debts).

The Arizona Democrats will be holding their State Committee meeting this Saturday, at Mountain Pointe High School, in Phoenix.  It is likely that the finances will be mentioned.  Or, not.  It is probably more likely that the Democrats' financial picture will be discussed at the REPUBLICANS' State Committee meeting, held concurrently a few miles away in Tempe.
*  Clarifications, reaction, 1:30pm:   Arizona's Politics has received an absolute denial from the Arizona Democratic Party that it has ever skipped any credit card payments.   D.J. Quinlan, Executive Director of the ADP, assures Arizona's Politics that no payments were missed;  he is going to review page 81 of the December FEC report, where it appears.

Quinlan also assures readers that - due to the complexities of reporting for state parties - one must analyze the FEC reports and the state reports together to get a more complete view of operating finances.  For example, the total revenues of the ADP are closer to being a combination of the both FEC reports and state reports.  (In addition to this, you have to match up the different time periods covered by the reports.)  Doing this, you come to the conclusion that the Roes and Pedersons together provided approximately 22% of the ADP's total revenues for 2013.   Arizona's Politics recognizes these complexities, and attempts to accurately distinguish between the FEC reports and the state reports.

Regarding the deficit, Quinlan notes that off-election years are typically lean but that the party decided to continue to run a robust party operation to better position them for the upcoming elections.

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

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