Did the problems start with Lindeen? Was it Keenan that created the current mess? Or were both women simply doing ‘business as usual?’
And my, what a business it is.
Last month the Montana Democratic Party took in nearly $58,000, mostly from small-time donors around the state.
But like every month, the Dems spent more than they raised. Last month they spent almost $74,000.
While it’s true the Dems have a monumental spending problem, they still have about $107,000 in the bank.
In other words, nothing will change.
I’m glad for this. Currently the Montana Democrats can’t win. While it’s true that lackluster leadership in Helena is a problem, the main reason Dems can’t win here is that their ideas don’t resonate.
Yes, this comes down to the candidates...but the candidates are just following the examples set by the Party, both nationally and in Helena.
The Party should be setting a good example when it comes to issues and spending and all the rest of it.
But they’re not.
When did things go off the rails? When did the greed start?
Perhaps we should blame the previous executive directors.
Twenty-two years ago, Brad Martin was sitting in the top chair at the ol’ Dem HQ on Sixth Street. He put in eight years in that position before heading to D.C. and putting Jim Farrell in charge. Farrell lasted just two years before joining a 2008 campaign that never took off (Bill Richardson).
Art Noonan took over for him, and he also put in two years. David Benson took over after that, but with 19 legislative seats going to the GOP in 2010, he didn’t last more than a year.
That’s when Ted Dick came along. He put in three years before he fell afoul of Jim Elliott. Some say he was fired, though I’m not sure Tester would have allowed that.
Dick was a leading union man for the Service Employees International Union, SEIU. Came to Montana from Iowa.
If I had to blame the wasteful spending that we currently see in the Montana Democratic Party on anyone, I'd think Ted Dick would be the person to blame. As you'll see, however, this simply isn't true.
After he left we had Andrea Marcoccio for a little over a year, then Keenan took over, followed by Lindeen.
I took the liberty of going through years-old campaign finance reports for the Montana Democratic Party. That’s how I know the pay.
- Back in 2006, Jim Farrell was getting $3,512 a month in salary for serving as executive director of the Montana Democratic Party.
- By 2008, Art Noonan was getting $3,224 a month in salary. No, you read that right - the pay actually went down!
- By 2010, David Benson was getting $3,770 a month.
- By 2012, the pay had increased to $4,176 a month.
- By 2014, the pay had increased to $4,352 a month.
- By 2016, the pay was still the same. Then things changed in 2017.
I think it was the 2016 Election that did it, that pushed Keenan over the edge. Prior to the election, Keenan was satisfied with the pay that she and Marcoccio were getting. Really, the pay hadn’t gone up all that much since Dick was in charge five years before.
But then things changed.
Starting in early 2017, Keenan saw her monthly pay go from $4,352 a month to $5,922 a month.
She stayed in that bracket until the spring of 2018, at which point her monthly pay rose to $6,174 a month.
In the span of two years, Keenan saw her pay go up by $1,822 a month, which is a 30% increase. The average American worker saw their wages rise by about 3% during that time...if they were lucky.
Unbridled greed coupled with an intense ego - that’s what Keenan has given to the Montana Dems for nearly three years now.
I’m not going to go back past 2006, as all the reports are handwritten and I can’t keyword-search them, which makes the task tedious. I think you get the gist of it, however.
Mostly, executive directors of the Montana Democratic Party were satisfied to get $3,000 to $4,000 a month for over a decade.
But then Nancy Keenan came along and turned over the apple cart. She took charge in 2015 and for two years she was happy. Then Trump won and all the statewides were lost but one. She lost hope, and began looking for the exits. But hey...if you’re gonna bail, why not get that golden parachute?
She got hers, upping her monthly pay big time.
We can’t trace the failure of the Montana Democratic Party to Keenan, but we can pinpoint the moment that greed became their overriding concern, and that was in early-2017.
I don’t think for one minute that this will change when a new executive director comes along in January.
If that person was a leader, they’d immediately cut their pay, like Noonan did.
We won’t see that happen.
I’m glad for this. I want the Montana Democratic Party to be as weak as possible, and it currently is very weak.
My greatest hope is that Jorge Quintana will take over as the next executive director of the Party.
Jorge running things in Helena while Whitney gets the nod for governor and Kathleen gets the go-head for Congress?
I can’t think of a greater gift for Republicans.