Under Terrie Rizzo, Florida Democratic Party’s shaky finances get ‘immediate’ boost

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Less than a month into her new role and following a period of turmoil at the Florida Democratic Party, Chair Terrie Rizzo gave an “immediate” $253,000 boost to the party’s shaky finances.

According to a memo, sent Tuesday to Florida Democratic Leadership and obtained by Florida Politics, Rizzo said the party’s financial team called on “Democrats and Democratic leaders from every corner of the state” and raised $253,000 in 21 days.

“Our immediate fundraising success ensured FDP is on a trajectory to have the necessary resources to extend our recent string of victories, communicate our winning message and turn Florida blue,” she wrote.

Even with the recent spike, the party has less than half a million dollars in the bank heading into an expensive election year, which includes the governor’s race and a handful of highly-contested statehouse races.

The party has settled all debts and monetary commitments inherited from Stephen Bittel, a longtime, millionaire Democratic donor whose short chairmanship ended in disgrace last year after he was accused of sexual misconduct in the workplace.

Bittel was elected under the promise of ballooning the party’s finances and fundraising efforts, but he left the money with little money. Party officials said the exact amount that was paid off in debts was not immediately available, but it was in the thousands of dollars.

When Rizzo became chair, most of the cash on hand — roughly $161,000 — was in the account the party uses to fund state campaigns. A separate federal account had $6,000, a bump from what is stated in the latest Federal Elections Commission filing, showing the party in the red with more than $18,000 in debt.

Aside from talking about finances, Rizzo also gave a glimpse of what the party will look like under her leadership and boasted her “grassroots approach.”

In the next six months, she said, the party’s rules and bylaws will be “modernized” to be more inclusive, and personnel policies will be updated. A transition team will also be appointed to help her assimilate into her new role, she said.

Ana Ceballos

Ana covers politics and policy Before joining the News Service of Florida she wrote for the Naples Daily News and was the legislative relief reporter for The Associated Press and covered policy issues impacting immigration, the environment, criminal justice and social welfare in Florida. She holds a B.A. in journalism from San Diego State University. After graduating in 2014, she worked as a criminal justice reporter for the Monterey Herald and the Monterey County Weekly. She has also freelanced for The Washington Post at the U.S.-Mexico border covering crime in the border city of Tijuana, where she grew up. Ana is fluent in Spanish and has intermediate proficiency in Portuguese.


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