A review of the Democratic Party Disclosure

It’s about to get all wonky up in here.

According to the report filed ending 08/31 with the FEC (http://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/dcdev/forms/C00041269/811353) the Democratic Party of Georgia has raised $893,844.17 this year.

Nice, right? but there’s more!

A review of prior reports at the FEC shows that $154,132.55 (17.24% of all funds raised) of that is from the Democratic National Committee.  $80,000 is in the form of monthly contributions the DNC makes to the DPG, $74,132.55 is from the Victory Fund, (that’s where the DNC raises money via direct mail in Georgia and then gives a share of the profit to the state party).

Further, the FEC reports also show that at least $40,950 (4.6% of all funds raised) of the party’s income has come from candidate purchases of the voter file, known as Votebuilder.  State House candidates pay $300, State Senate candidates pay $600 and Congressional candidates pay $5,000 to have access to the Votebuilder database for their campaigns.

In the August report, you can see that a $38,240.00 contribution came from the DCCC.  That alone accounts for 4.3% of the party’s income for the year.

A check of the Secretary of State’s web site (http://results.enr.clarityelections.com/GA/40378/95366/en/summary.html) will show you that 16 Democrats ran for Congress this year, each would have paid $5,220 to qualify for the ballot, a grand total of $83,520 (or 9.3% of all funds raised).  Only 25% of that was paid to the Secretary of State’s office for the actual qualifying fees.  The DPG banked $62,640 off of those Congressional candidates.

This simple math would seem to indicate that $316,842.55 (over 35% of the DPG’s total raised) didn’t actually come from DPG fundraising activity but rather the national party or candidate fees.  That would add up to the DPG raising a little less than $600K for the year…  which is less than the DPG used to make on the Jefferson Jackson Dinner alone in the not so distant past.


The DPG also has a state account, which is filed with the State Ethics Commission.  As of 06/30/2012 (http://media.ethics.ga.gov/search/Campaign/Campaign_ReportOptions.aspx?NameID=969&FilerID=NC2006000251&CDRID=66853), the Democratic Party of Georgia reported $204,500.94 cash on hand according to State Ethics Committee filings.  That $204K includes the money belonging to the Georgia Democratic House Caucus and the Georgia Democratic Senate Caucus, the latter of which was rumored to have over $150K earlier this year, meaning the state party has little actual money there at this point.

According to the above mentioned state report, 174 Democrats qualified to run for the General Assembly, each paying $400 each for a total of $69,600.  The state party would have kept $52,200 of that with the other going to pay qualifying fees.  Another $72,105.77 was paid for other qualifying fees…  again, the party kept 75% or $54,079.33.

So that’s $62,640 for Congressional candidates, $52,200 for General Assembly and $54,079.33 for other offices, a grand total of $168,919.33 that went to pay general operating deficits of the Democratic Party of Georgia and instead of going to fund a Coordinated Campaign


Georgia Code regarding qualifying fees:
§ 21-2-131. Qualification fees; when and to whom paid, distribution of fees

(a) Qualification fees for party and public offices shall be fixed and published as follows:
(c) Qualifying fees shall be prorated and distributed as follows:
(2) Fees paid to the state political party: 75 percent to be retained by the state political party; 25 percent to be transmitted to the Secretary of State with the party’s certified list of candidates not later than 12:00 Noon of the third day after the deadline for qualifying in the case of a general primary and by 12:00 Noon of the day following the closing of qualifications in the case of a special primary. Such fees shall be transmitted as soon as practicable by the Secretary of State as follows: one-third to the state treasury and two-thirds divided among the governing authorities of the counties in the candidate’s district in proportion to the population of each such county according to the last United States decennial census, such fees to be applied to the cost of holding the election;


  1. Mrs. Adam Kornstein says:

    I’m too lazy to look… but what exactly have they been spending this money on?

    Besides a couple state committee meetings, various legal entanglements and a convention.. what are they doing for candidates? I got my first request to volunteer this week, and most of the volunteer activities are not theirs, but jumping onto other folks events and claiming it’s theirs.

    On the flip side, most of the county parties are working damn hard to elect their folks and the President.

    • Stefan says:

      Well, $3500 on a photographer for the convention, $500 to something called “Alcohol Heroes”, which I hope wasn’t alcohol, because that implies that the event they had…nevermind.

      Most of it is payroll to recent college graduates.

      If you look at September, 65k raised, great right? except 61.5 of it is from other Democratic entities. Not great. That’s 3500 in against expenses of, gulp, around 58k. Some of that was DNCC stuff, but not that much of it.

      What happens in January?

      • SallyForth says:

        Stefan, thanks for the info on what’s happening with Georgia’s “other” party. A couple of weeks ago I posted a question of whether any of our P/P crew had heard anything lately; after all the flurry back in the spring, there have been tons of rumors. These financial stats are pretty eye opening.

        There was no state convention this year, so that $3500 paid to a photographer had to be for taking a few pictures of the GA delegates at Charlotte (didn’t any of them have a camera?) – which served no purpose whatsoever. That money could/should have been put to good use here in GA to recruit and support a Democratic candidate for one of those open or uncontested Legislative seats. But that might help them gain a little relevancy…..

    • Andre says:

      I’ve just got to get this dig in:

      Some of the money is being spent on paying the court-ordered child support of the Democrats’ illustrious political director. That’s $801.00 monthly.

      The rent at DPG HQ is about $5600 a month.

      Then there’s various “administrative” expenses such as renting cars ($675.78), paying the Visa bill ($5,091.17), and feeding the volunteers with food purchased from Wal-Mart [something I find particularly ironic given the fact that labor has has Wally World on its sh*t list for several years now].

  2. GAPolitico says:

    “That $204K includes the money belonging to the Georgia Democratic House Caucus”

    The GDHC actually owes the party around $60,000. The State party made a loan to the House Caucus which they have not repaid – but they will be repaying it starting in January. So, actually, the House Caucus owes the State Party Money.

    Stefan, I’m assuming, is loyal to his BlogForDemocracy/HateMikeBerlon group of ex-party hacks. Or else, he wouldn’t misrepresent these numbers. They have taken the Republican stance of Mitch McConnell, that beating your enemy is more important than moving the party forward.

    So, as with all things, don’t expect that your source is unbiased in their assessments.

    • Stefan says:

      It’s not clear from the numbers, but maybe I got bad information. It is my recollection that House Caucus borrowed money from the party – but if the House Caucus isn’t self-sustaining, then that is a greater problem. The caucus shouldn’t have an issue, because it has the representatives itself to use for fundraising purposes. It should be able to raise money fairly easily through call time alone.

      • GAPolitico says:

        They are working on it. It was an expensive year with redistricting and trying to protect incumbents.

        However, it is disingenuous to imply part of the state party money represented in disclosures is actually House Caucus money (ie, not DPG Money) when the House Caucus money sitting in the account was loaned to them by the DPG. Especially when you are talking about approximately $60k out of $200k (roughly 30% of the money). The party is not where it was 15 years ago and we are working to fix that – but lets be intellectually honest about the circumstances.

        • Stefan says:

          Wait a sec, are you talking about the 2010 loan to the House Caucus? That was supposed to be paid back 2 years ago. If it hasn’t been paid back, do House caucus fundraisers go to pay back the party or do they go to caucus expenditures?

          • Andre says:

            Stefan and GAPolitico inadvertently stumbled upon an even larger issue of ethics and transparency.

            Ethics watchdog Jim Walls reported, in 2010, that Democrat officials said the caucuses are “legally a part of the party . . . but . . . operates independently” [SOURCE: Walls, Jim (2010-7-30). “Ethics Watch.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution.].

            Walls also reported, “Campaign finance records filed with the State Ethics Commission make no such distinction, though.”

            Here’s what everyone can agree on:

            All money raised and/or collected by the House and Senate Democrat caucuses are reported on the Democratic Party of Georgia campaign finance disclosures at the state level. We can all agree on that.

            As a matter of fact, there is no separate House Democrat Caucus registered with the State Ethics Commission. There is no separate Senate Democrat Caucus registered with the State Ethics Commission either.

            As a matter of appearances, if the House or Senate Democrat caucuses raise $100,000, it looks like the Democratic Party of Georgia itself raised $100,000. If the Senate or House Democrat caucuses are in debt to the tune of $35,000, it appears that the Democratic Party of Georgia is carrying a debt of $35,000.

            It stands to reason then, that if, as GAPolitico wrote, “House Caucus money sitting in the account was loaned to them by the DPG,” one could logically conclude that the DPG loaned money to itself, because there is no House Caucus registered with the State Ethics Commission for the DPG to loan money to.

            Now I’m sure you’re wondering how all of this relates back to transparency.

            Well, Jim Walls requested an advisory opinion from the State Ethics Commission inquiring whether the exemption from contribution limits and expenditures for political parties found in section 21-5-41(j) of the Ethics in Government Act applies to legislative caucuses in the Georgia House and Senate.

            Advisory Opinion 2010-07 suggests legislative caucuses are political committees because “the hallmark of a political party is the ability to nominate a candidate.” Legislative caucuses do not nominate candidates for public office. Period. Legislative caucuses do, however, function as political committees in that the caucuses makes contributions to candidates.

            O.C.G.A. § 21-5-40 (6) defines a “political committee as “(A) any partnership, committee, club, association, organization, party caucus of the House of Representatives or the Senate, or similar entity (other than a business entity) or any other group of persons or entities which makes a contribution; or (B) any separate segregated fund.”

            Political committees, like legislative caucuses, should register with the State Ethics Commission. In the interest of transparency and ethics, political committees should also file campaign finance disclosures with the State Ethics Commission. That is something neither the House or Senate Democrat caucuses do.

            The House and Senate Democrat caucuses hide all their contributions in the Democratic Party of Georgia’s campaign finance report. Likewise, House and Senate Democrats hide all their expenditures in the Democratic Party of Georgia’s campaign finance report.

            No one really knows how much money House and Senate Democrats have raised or spent, because neither caucus reports the money independently.

            It isn’t very transparent, and it creates a lot of fuzzy math when the public attempts to follow the money trail.

    • Stefan says:

      And regardless, if the party has loaned money to the caucus, that’s the caucus’s money now, right? and if the caucus cannot raise, the party isn’t getting paid back. no difference, really.

      If you look at the numbers above, does that seem the financial situation of a party poised for resurgence? You know that I very much want it to be, right?

      The party needs to be raising way more than it is, and probably spending way less, and at the same time, isn’t really doing a great job on messaging or helping recruit candidates or supporting those that are running. If you disagree with those points, please correct me. I may be missing some information, but I don’t think I am.

      • GAPolitico says:

        Well, I have seen multiple post from you and others about the “state of the party” and how awful it is. We are doing this or that wrong, etc etc. But what I do not see is anyone actually helping. What should the state party be doing to raise money? What should the house caucus do to raise money. Let’s get

        • Stefan says:

          I gave the party very specific ideas for how to raise money on a number of occasions which they declined to implement. They were complete, low cost plans.

          I asked the Chairman the ultimate fundraising question for a party and he didn’t have an answer. His main job is to answer that question.

          How much call time is he doing?

  3. Stefan, what is your estimate for the amount of money that the DPG actually *raised* in fundraising events? Apart from the national Party apparatus, apart from candidate fees, database sales, etc?

    I do not know of the figure for the GRP, but seems interesting.

    Would also be interesting to compare 2007 to 2011 total year revenue amounts (both Presidential pre-election years) and 2008 Jan 1-Sept 30 vs. 2012 Jan 1-Sept 30. I don’t have time to review it, but if someone does it and can post it, it would be telling.

    • Stefan says:

      You mean apart from JJ? Including JJ maybe 565k-595k? About what they were doing overall in 2007 but 2007 had less party money.

      It’s a good question and I don’t fully know the answer, but that’s my guess.

  4. SouthernCamelot says:

    We Democrats shouldn’t sweat the small stuff… as in (literally) our small fundraising and small organizational presence. It’s so small that it does not matter. Worrying about it makes it more of an issue than it is. Trolls like Andre are here to try to pour salt in an open wound and make Georgia Democrat’s heads constantly spin over what’s happening in Atlanta. The longer regional activists and party officers across the state don’t organize and just watch Atlanta and complain, the longer it’s going to take for things to turn around. My prediction? The DPG stays relatively small in terms of fundraising but about a half dozen progressive and moderate Dem supportive PAC’s pop-up across the state in the coming years. The “next generation” incarnation of OFA will be here to turn Georgia (along with Texas and Arizona) into full purple states by 2016. There might be a spat or two when that happens… the last of the dixiecrats will be coughed out (this is what happened in North Carolina when national volunteers “went to work” on giving them an effective Democratic party to put out strong numbers for POTUS). Once the Democrats get a new challenger elected state-wide, DPG fundraising and organization will probably improve dramatically. In what is turning into a pleasant surprise the DPG seems to be managing to put their PSC candidate in a position to upset the incumbent this year… the state party and the local parties all seem very supportive of Steve Oppenheimer.

    • Mrs. Adam Kornstein says:

      Just curious, SouthernCamelot… who would that “new statewide challenger” be?

      Steve O is a nice guy, but he’s not likely to be elected.

      It’s also unfair to label anyone a “troll” for pointing out what is easily found on the web with a little digging.

      The first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one, protestations that the DPG isn’t in serious trouble with finances, energy, relationships with like minded community members and candidates is quite beyond the pale. I’m sorry if this isn’t what you want to hear. But it is never the less something that ought to be addressed after Nov 6th.

      • SouthernCamelot says:

        I’m right in the middle of it…. I have a grasp of what’s going on. Troll may not be the word… a bit juvenile on my part. Democratic Agitator… I think I can call him that. The point is the Georgia Democrats can be goaded into hyper-focusing on their problems, become obsessive, and give up. I feel like Andre and his blog works to try to prod us into doing just that – giving up, getting angry, etc… My point is why worry about the state of the centralized DPG? It’s so small it is a non-factor at this point. As in.. it can’t get any smaller or raise any less yet we still have Democrats getting elected in Georgia. There is no where to go but up. Yes, I’m sure a lot will be addressed after Nov 6th… but in the mean-time we are going to focus on candidates like Steve O. I look forward to seeing if he has what it takes to make an effective debate performance. That could make things much more competitive in a hurry. In June/July, Mr.Eaton wasn’t buying any ads. Now he is all over pages like gapundit. Oppenheimer *has* gained positive momentum and relevance in a state-wide race as a Democrat. That marks some degree of progress for our party in the latter-half of 2012.

  5. SallyForth says:

    After reading this thread of comments, one buried up above seems to summarize things:

    It isn’t very transparent, and it creates a lot of fuzzy math when the public attempts to follow the money trail.

    There’s a New Testament passage that holds true in life generally: where your heart is, their lies your money also. It sure looks like somebody’s heart is in the wrong place. For example, who decided about a year ago to pay almost $6,000 a month on what I hear is a down-at-the-heels neighborhood and looks like warehouse space with utility pipes running across open ceiling? That sounds pretty foolish to me. Meanwhile, the ever dwindling ranks of Democratic elected officials in Georgia is bad for two-party government. Recruiting and supporting candidates is where the heart of the party and whatever money raised should be.

    About that raising money thing, Dems need to face the reality that getting big-money contributions requires big-money connections, name recognition and known people who can get their phone calls answered. The GA party now does not have anyone in a leadership position who is thus connected. Like an old saying, the inmates are running the asylum. From what I hear, another faction plans a coup after Nov. 6th – but big donors still won’t be impressed.

    About the possibility of several pac’s and a permanently small state party, there’s no way around the fact that any Democratic candidate can only get on the ballot via the state party – giving it a strangle hold on the process unless the legislature changes that law. (I personally go for Jesse Ventura’s proposal of removing the “D” and “R” from all ballots, let people run nonpartisan.)
    No matter what, the people of Georgia will not have a viable alternative to the Republican party for the foreseeable future. Depending on your political leanings, this is either great or awful….

    • Calypso says:

      Regardless of your political leanings, this is awful.

      There, I fixed your close for you SallyForth.

      I would think even a fervent party person, of either party, wants a relatively strong opposition party to help keep their guys on the up-and-up. Otherwise you get the crap we are seeing now from the legislature.

      • SallyForth says:

        Thanks, Calypso – I agree with you. But I can’t help thinking there are some of the “what’s in it for me” Republicans who love seeing the other party on the floor.

        And you got that right about the crap we see coming from the current legislature!

      • Stefan says:

        Honestly, it wouldn’t even be that hard to fix. Except that it would involve a complete transformation in direction and structure. But it’s certainly possible.

    • Harry says:

      “there’s no way around the fact that any Democratic candidate can only get on the ballot via the state party – giving it a strangle hold on the process ”

      I’m totally confused….do you mean that a person cannot pay a fee and simply qualify with the Secretary of State to run in the Democratic primary, with or without the blessing of the party insider bigwigs? Please clarify.

      • SallyForth says:

        Nope, Harry, a person cannot “pay a fee and simply qualify with the Secretary of State to run….” in either the Democratic primary or the Republican primary. You have to pay a qualifying fee (I believe it’s anywhere from $400 to roughly $6,000 depending on the office running for) to the state party in whose primary you wish to run. Each party gives about 1/4 of the money they collect to the SoS and keeps the rest as income.

        You also have to fill out the qualifying forms with your personal info, plus sign an oath of loyalty to the party, drawn up by what you call “the party insider bigwigs”. The current election law in Georgia is a sweetheart deal for the two major parties. It needs to be changed, to make it easier for independent candidates to run, or at least to get rid of the D & R party labels on the ballot, let voters simply choose the person.

  6. Mrs. Adam Kornstein says:

    The Democrats have no “oath”. As evidenced by Rick Crawford’s presumed switch, only the most recent.. but notable others have switched as well. There are no “insider “big wigs” calling any shots at the DPG, trust me it’s more a ship of fools.

    This has been a two party state for about 178 years, with 170 of them having a “one side is stronger than the other” situation. Years ago both parties worked together to keep any third party from being able to gain any meaningful ballot access. GA ranks dead last in ballot access of all 50 states/

Comments are closed.