Republican Party of Minnesota Chair Keith Downey sent out this email this morning to clear up some distortions and mistruths that are flying fast and furiously in the Chair’s race.
Setting the record straight…
As you may know, there are now two new candidates who have jumped into the race for Party Chair just days before the election. A full discussion of the issues is important, and I welcome all of it and attended many conventions and district meetings around the state to do just that. But in the last few days before the election, accurate information will be important, so I am taking the opportunity here to clarify and correct the (mis)information that is now out there.
To be clear, the State Party still carries too much debt. Fortunately, since January 1st we have reduced our debt by $110,000.
After a once in four years statewide campaign effort in 2014, 2015 is now the year to make progress on the debt, and donors have given me their commitment to help in that cause if I am re-elected Chair. And after reducing the State Party’s costs and improving our revenue streams, we are in a strong position do so.
Some key figures:
- Since its high of $2.2 million after the problems of 2011, Party debt is now just over $1.4 million. It reached a low of just under $1.3 million in early 2014 before the strategic decision was made to give it all we had and put our financial resources into the election, starting with the state convention and then on to the primary campaigns, statewide victory program, early/absentee ballot program, and general election campaigns.
- Compared to 2013, today our monthly operating costs including principle and interest on structured long term debt from 2011, have been reduced by $50,000 per month.
- Our donor file has grown from 27,000 two years ago, to 41,000 today, and the average donation has doubled.
Some argue that spending aggressively on behalf of our candidates in 2014 was unwise. But imagine if our strategy for 2014 was simply to pay down debt. Would donors have given? Would we have had a successful convention? Would our endorsed candidates have prevailed in the primaries? Would our races have been as close as they were? Doubtful.
A political Party’s financial position is lowest right after a hard fought election. The better time to judge our progress, however, is right before we go into the next one.
In the past two years as your Party Chair, I have very intentionally made the position increasingly accountable to the State Party’s Executive Committee and ultimately to you the delegates.
- I embraced the new policy requiring the Chair to gain approval from the Executive Committee before entering any vendor contract greater than $25,000, and if for a non-budgeted area of spending, greater than $5,000.
- In addition, I am the first Chair, and the only current elected officer, to be accountable to a job description and an annual review from the Personnel Committee as part of receiving a salary.
- As Chair, I submit all new hires to the Personnel Committee for approval of the individual, the job description and compensation.
- We have regularly scheduled State Executive Committee meetings on a monthly basis, increasing to bi-weekly during the last two months of the election cycle. All strategic matters regarding operations, campaigns and spending are discussed.
- Thanks to our Treasurer, Bron Scherer, the State Party is now running on Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). This is the standard of Certified Public Accounting firms, and our internal accounting controls and segregation of duties are reviewed annually by an outside party.
- The Party Chair reviews the financials and approves accounts payable on a weekly basis with the Treasurer, Executive Director, and Finance Director, but has no computer login and no role in the accounting, invoice entry or check writing functions.
- Monthly Income Statements and Balance Sheets are presented to the State Executive Committee, and all supporting schedules are available to be reviewed with the Treasurer.
- A 24-month budget is proposed by the Chair and approved by the State Executive Committee, and monthly financial statements now include budget to actual comparisons.
- The State Party’s FEC and State CFB reporting has been brought in-house to gain cost savings and control, and in the past 24 months we have had only minor amendments to our reports and no fines.
While recent accusations try to claim otherwise, this new era of transparency and accountability is solid, professional, and serving the Party and its donors very well.
Recent proposals in the name of “transparency” to undo these hard fought improvements to the Party’s financial processes are misguided, and ironically come from those with a history of leaking strategic information.
I hope this provides some helpful context as you evaluate the important issues facing our Party.
I remain confident that the turnaround is over, and the comeback has begun. Let’s stay the course, make the progress on the debt I am committed to as a priority and have the donor support for, and deliver on the plan to win everything in 2016!
Click here to view my website and my plan for the next two years
We have regained momentum, but we also have a lot of work to do, and it would be an honor to serve as your Party Chairman for another term.
Thank you for your service to the people of Minnesota!