When Jeff DeWit took the reins of the
Arizona Republican Party in January, the party had more than $152,000
in its federal campaign account. Seven months later, the AZGOP has
burned through more than 90% of those cash reserves and doesn’t have
enough money to pay its bills.
The party’s most recent federal campaign finance report
shows just how dire the situation is for Republicans heading into a
monumentally important 2024 election year, during which the AZGOP will
be overseeing efforts to win the presidency, capture a U.S. Senate seat
and maintain control of the Legislature.
At the end of August, the party had
just $14,800 left in the bank. During that month, the party spent nearly
$89,000 — more than twice the roughly $44,000 in revenues it reported.
But the AZGOP only paid about $57,000 of those bills, and took on almost
$32,000 in debt.
That is sparking concern for some Republicans, who fear the party is now on an unsustainable path.
“If this keeps up, it’s inevitable
they’ll go broke,” said Chris Baker, a Scottsdale-based political
consultant whose clients include U.S. Rep. David Schweikert.
A spokeswoman for the Arizona Republican Party did not return a request for comment.
Because of campaign finance laws, the
parties must operate separate accounts for money spent to help elect
federal candidates and funds used to bolster state and local hopefuls.
The federal campaign account is the lifeblood of any political party,
and rules require that its funds be used to pay for all party employees.
Costs for staff and other administrative functions are often split with
the state account, but a bankrupt federal account would mean the AZGOP
cannot pay its employees.
The August fundraising figures are
dismal for the Arizona Republican Party: It only raised $18,321 in
contributions from individuals, and the remaining $26,000 or so in
revenues was a transfer from the AZGOP’s state campaign finance
The figures are a sharp drop from poor fundraising in July, when the party raised less than $24,000 from individual donors and ended the month with only $28,000 on hand.
Baker noted that there were no large
donors to the AZGOP in August, and the largest contribution was $500,
which came from a construction executive in Wisconsin.
That the party isn’t even taking in
enough money to cover its monthly bills is concerning enough, Baker
said, but that’s amplified by the fact that the Arizona Republican Party
in June took out a mortgage to purchase an entire floor of a midtown Phoenix office building for its new headquarters.
DeWit won a contested election for
chairman of the party when its members chose new leaders in late
January. A key component of his campaign was a pledge to “drastically improve fundraising” over his predecessor, Kelli Ward.
DeWit was a top staffer for Donald
Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns — he was the chief finance and chief
operating officer in 2016, and chief operating officer in 2020 — and he
positioned himself as the only candidate who would be able to raise the
money the AZGOP would need to be effective in 2024. He boasted that he
oversaw “over $1 billion in campaign fundraising” for Trump, which would
serve him well helming the state party.
“I want to bring this expertise to
Arizona to give us a fundraising, ground game, candidate recruitment,
media training, and organizational leadership advantage over the
Democrats,” he wrote in one campaign pitch.
Baker said it’s critical for
Republicans in Arizona to have a healthy and effective state party,
something that it won’t have if DeWit doesn’t turn this fundraising
trajectory around quickly.
“If I was Jeff DeWit, my only
priority going forward would be to engage in donor outreach and make the
case — publicly and privately — that this is a new regime, and we’re
going to be laser-focused on electing Republicans,” he said.
Jim Small www.tucsonsentinel.com
2023-09-15 20:39:38 , politics Vivrr Local | TucsonSentinel.com