The State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) meets on Saturday at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC). The meeting is ostensibly to elect new leadership. The big specter hanging over the event is that the party is running out of funds and is increasingly reliant on the generosity of big out of state donors and national Democratic organizations to stay afloat.
Alabama Democratic Party (ADP) Chairman State Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) has already announced that he is stepping down as Chair of the party. A number of candidates have announced their intention of running for the open chair position. The winner will face a dire situation going into the Nov. 8 general election, with most funds already depleted and most Democratic candidates struggling to raise money on their own.
A source close to the party told 1819 News that Executive Director Wade Perry’s departure saved the party his $140,000 a year salary, but the party is still hemorrhaging money.
According to the SDEC’s latest financial filing with the Alabama Secretary of State’s office, the Democratic Party only has $25,245.35 in its state account. The party collected $2,200 in total receipts in July but spent $4,427.08.
Most of the SDEC’s state fund receipts in the past year have been transfers from its federal fund. According to the most recent filing with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), the SDEC entered 2021 with $786,840.84 in cash on hand in its federal account. According to the June 30 filing, the SDEC only had $177,390.58 of that left and the SDEC federal fund owes $21,612.
Most of the money that the state party has spent appears to have been spent on staff salaries and operating expenses.
1819 News was told that through 2010, the Alabama Democratic Party controlled both houses of the state legislature. Then, raising money was easy. The Alabama Education Association, the Alabama Trial Lawyers, and other special interests in Montgomery filled the SDEC’s state fund with loads of campaign cash.
“We were flush with funds in the state account [under then-Chairman Joe Turnham] and the state fund subsidized the federal fund," the source said. "Now the federal fund is subsidizing the state fund.”
According to the SDEC federal report, the party has transferred $388,273.98 from its federal account to its state account.
Most of the money that the Alabama Democratic Party is raising to fund its Senate and congressional candidates is coming from out of state Democratic donors.
The top 25 Democratic donors in the FEC report include:
The Lytton Rancherio of California $10,000
Michelle Yee, California $10,000
Fred Eychaner, Illinois $20,000 donations
Reid Hoffman, California $20,000
Joey Kaempfer Jr., Virginia $20,000
Robert Kuehlthau, Alabama $10,000
Kevin Rowe, California $19,900
Andrew Rumer, California $10,000
Eric Schmidt, California $17,200
Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Alabama $10,000
Abigail Wexner, Ohio $10,000
Kenneth Duda, California $9,088.31 9088.31
Jennifer Duda, California $18,176.61
George Soros, New York $9,088.31
Deborah Simon. Indiana $18,800.08
Arthur Blank, Georgia $7,127.51
Larry Menefee, Alabama $5,000
Parker Griffith, Alabama $5,000
Gwendolyn Sontheim, Minnesota $13,349.13
Mel Heifetz, Pennsylvania $9088.31
Michael Weinholtz, California $4,902
Glen Tullman, Illinois $4,284.35
Donna Weinholtz, California $4,186.31
Lawrence Linden, New York $3,205.91
Charles Taylor, California $3,205.91
(Since the maximum contribution an individual is allowed to make at the federal level is $10,000 some of these totals are from two or more individual contributions.)
The problem with relying on out of state donors to fund the Alabama Democratic Party is that there are other races that draw their attention nationally. Most of the statewide Alabama races do not appear easily winnable.
The source said, “All the southern Democratic big money is going to Georgia, because (U.S. Sen. Raphael) Warnock can win. Nationally Georgia, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania is where the money is going,” (where there are tightly contested U.S. Senate races).
The SDEC federal account relies heavily on transfers from affiliated committees for much of its funds. The SDEC received $366,552.23 in transfers from the DNC Services Corp/Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Grassroots Victory Fund.
The SDEC federal account received $171,123.70 from Political Action Committees.
By far the largest of these is from The Right Side of History PAC which has made two contributions totaling $106,123.70 to the SDEC since 2021. According to the SDEC’s FEC report, Right Side of History PAC is based in Birmingham; but the PAC’s own FEC report gives a Virginia address (1751 Potomac Greens DR, Alexandria, VA 22314). It has Alabama contributors as well as a large amount of national contributions including from Act Blue – a Massachusetts based nonprofit technology organization that enables left-leaning nonprofits, Democratic candidates, and progressive groups to raise money from individual donors on the Internet by providing them with online fundraising software.
Rep. Terri Sewell’s (D-AL07) congressional campaign has contributed $30,000.
The SDEC’s other PAC donors are:
Movement Voter PAC, Massachusetts $10,000
Together Everyone Realizes Real Impact AKA TERRI PAC, DC $5,000
Alabama Power Company Employees Federal PAC, Alabama, $5,000.00
Nutmeg PAC, Connecticut $5,000
Smart Solutions PAC, DC $5,000
Common Ground PAC, Virginia $5,000
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, DC $4,803.96
Democratic Action, DC $3,571.47
Democratic Victory PAC, INC. DC $2,225.51
While the federal fund has raised $1,240,570.92, much of that money has gone to operating expenses. Total disbursements this cycle have already been $1,670,148.73 – and that is before spending any money supporting Democratic campaigns this fall.
In order to fund candidates, whomever the SDEC elects to be their next chair is going to have to grow the Democratic donor base – which has largely dried up within the state of Alabama itself.
The general election will be on Nov. 8.
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon.moseley@1819News.com.
Don’t miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.