It appears that the Democratic Executive Committee of Florida has the Democratic Party of Wisconsin to thank for bailing it out.
Hours into office last month, new Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny A. Diaz saw up close that the party’s federal finances were a disaster, to the point that the party’s health insurance company canceled coverage of employees six weeks earlier. Within a couple weeks, Diaz announced he and the party had shored things up enough to restore employees’ medical coverage from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida.
The Democratic Executive Committee of Florida’s January financial report filed Saturday with the Federal Election Commission shows the Democratic Party of Wisconsin transferred $300,000 to Florida on Jan. 29. The next day, the Democratic Executive Committee of Florida paid some of what it owed in back premiums to Blue Cross, sending the insurance company $236,435, the report shows.
On Feb. 3, Diaz announced, in a memo to staff, “I am happy to announce that as of midnight tonight, our group policy will be reinstated retroactively to 12/1/20 as if there was never any lapse in coverage. Employee claims, including those made during the cancellation period, will now be recovered.”
However, he also advised that “the financial condition of our party is poor.”
That has been apparent to many since at least early December when the party’s financial reports first started to show huge and mounting debts and lack of revenue in the post-election period of Oct 15-Nov. 23. The next report, covering the period of Nov. 24 through Dec. 31, was even worse.
The latest report, covering the month of January, shows the situation is not much better. And any improvement is chiefly due to Wisconsin’s bailout.
Diaz and the Florida Democrats did not respond to inquiries about the report Monday.
The Democratic Executive Committee of Florida, the Florida Democrats’ federal entity, employs and pays most of the staff who are usually associated with the better known state entity, the Florida Democratic Party. In January, which began with the federal entity buried under $868,599 in unpaid bills, including those overdue Blue Cross premiums, the Democratic Executive Committee of Florida managed to raise only $192,764 in new money — not including transfers from Wisconsin and other Democratic Party entities around the country.
The modest monthly revenue amount is not unusual for a party during the first few months of a non-election year; donations typically are light during that down period. Yet it came at a time when the party really needed a cash infusion.
Diaz laid off dozens of staff members after he was elected on Jan. 11 to replace previous Chair Terrie Rizzo. With that layoff, the party’s costs, not including the Blue Cross back payment, were sliced to just $228,886 in total operating expenses for the month. That also is not unusual. Parties, particularly the Florida Democrats, typically trim staff and expenses during the first few months of a non-election year.
What is unusual is the debt. Going into February, even having paid $236,435 in overdue bills to Blue Cross, the party still owed another $665,491.
That included another $290,457 that Florida Democrats still owe Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida for overdue bills and January’s premiums.
The Democratic Executive Committee of Florida entered the new year with just $60,930 cash in the bank. Florida Democrats increased that to $106,363 in the bank by Feb. 1.
By comparison, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin entered the new year with $6.4 million in the bank. Even after bailing out their Florida Democratic brethren, Wisconsin Democrats still got into February with $5.5 million left in the bank. The Wisconsin Democrats’ unpaid bills totaled about $32,000 on Feb. 1.
The Republican Party of Florida’s January financial statement had not yet been posted by the Federal Election Commission by Monday afternoon. According to its end-of-the-year report for 2020 though, the RPOF entered the new year with $5.8 million in the bank, and no unpaid bills.
In January, the Florida Democrats also received $10,000 transferred in from the Democratic Grassroots Victory Fund in Washington, $6,000 from Dollars for Democrats in Washington, and $1,000 from Tampa Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor‘s reelection campaign.
Besides the Blue Cross outstanding debt, the Democrats’ unpaid bills include $100,000 due Jeffrey C. Walker of Palm Beach as a refund of an improperly excessive contribution; $43,243 due Political CFOs of Colorado for consulting services; $40,000 due Mobilize America of New York for tech services; $38,784 due Staclabs Inc. of California for data services; $20,000 due Robert L. Crandall of Palm City as a refund of an excessive contribution; $18,541 due Production Resource Group of Orlando for conference services; $15,000 due Andrew Beck III of New York as a refund of an excessive contribution; and $10,000 due to ABC Liquors of Orlando as a refund.
Among dozens of smaller unpaid bills, the party also still owes $4,573 in back taxes to the Leon County Tax Collector.