Florida Democratic Party resurfacing from debts, but the trudge is far from over
Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny A. Diaz.

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Bailouts from big donors like Michael Bloomberg are keeping the party afloat.

Thanks to big donations from Mike Bloomberg and Mike Fernandez and some creative accounting, the Democratic Executive Committee of Florida has gotten out from under debts that had nearly crushed the party late last year.

In its latest federal financial reports, the party revealed it has reduced its pile of unpaid bills to just $98,849 at the end of February, down from more than $665,000 at the end of January, and $868,000 at the end of 2020. The debts had become so crushing the party couldn’t pay its health care insurance, and for a while Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida had canceled coverage.

That coverage was restored. Now, Blue Cross, once owed more than a half-million in past-due premiums, is all paid up, according to the March monthly report the Democratic Executive Committee of Florida filed Saturday with the Federal Election Commission.

The committee is the federally incorporated entity of the Florida Democratic Party.

“It feels really good because those first few weeks were brutal because of the amount of money we owed and were about to owe,” FDP Chair Manny A. Diaz told Politico.

Yet February’s money sheet isn’t showing a completely healthy situation.

The debts essentially were paid off through bailouts including $500,000 from former New York Mayor Bloomberg and $100,000 from Miami businessman Fernandez. That money went into the state entity’s coffers, then was transferred to the federal entity. At the same time, some of the federal entity’s debts, notably $240,000 owed Blue Cross, were transferred to the state entity, the Florida Democratic Party.

Other than the Bloomberg and Fernandez money, and another $310,000 that was transferred in from various other Democratic organizations in February, the federal entity raised just over $120,000 in February.

Some other debts also were retired, including some that apparently had been paid in January but were erroneously included in the report showing they were still owed at the end of that month. Those cleared the books of $4,573 in back taxes owed the Leon County Tax Collector, $10,000 owed ABC Liquors of Orlando, and $43,243 owed to the Political CFOs for consultation.

In February Democrats also refunded $100,000 that had been over-donated by Jeffrey Walker of New York City, refunded $20,000 from Robert Crandall of Palm City, and refunded $10,000 from Frank Brunckhorst of Sarasota.

Diaz, who took over the party on Jan. 10 from former Chair Terrie Rizzo, told Politico for its “Florida Playbook” newsletter Monday morning, “We need a lot more to get across the goal line.”

The party’s federal corporation entered March with $198,684 in the bank and $98,849 in overdue bills.

By contrast, the Republican Party of Florida entered March with $5.8 million in the bank and no debts.

The Democrats’s debts still include $40,000 owed Mobilize America, $2,100 owed Grassroots Analytics, and a dozen more refunds to contributors who, like Walker, Crandall, and Brunckhorst, had made donations last year that were too large to be legal under federal campaign finance laws.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]


2 comments

  • Ron Ogden

    March 22, 2021 at 7:19 pm

    “We take bribes from fat cat donors and we cook our books to make it seem like progress: come on Florida, put us in charge of your state’s finances. We know how to handle it!”–Florida Democratic Party

  • tom palmer

    March 22, 2021 at 8:36 pm

    It is amazing this happened. Our GOP friend above is not wrong is concluding this sends the wrong message about Democratic hopefuls seeking election. It wasn’t always this way. Somehow the Florida Democratic Party has lost its way. Until it gets its act together the GOP will run this state, which isn’t exactly good news, either.

Comments are closed.


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