You can find the Democrats’ 285-page report here and the GOP’s 56-page report here.
I’ve dug into these reports about 7 or 8 times now, beginning in March 2017.
At the time I was wondering how much the Democratic Party was helping out Rob Quist in his special election bid.
I found out they weren’t helping him so much as they were helping themselves.
It’s been the same story every time we’ve look at these reports since then: the Democrats bring in a lot of money each month, but typically eat up most, if not all of it, on their own salaries, benefits packages, payroll taxes, travel and eating out.
The Montana Democratic Party has a serious self-aggrandizement disorder.
The Montana Republicans, on the other hand, take in a lot less each month than the Democrats do, but they in turn spend a lot less. They have a fraction of the staffers as well.
And the Republicans are winning…
- At the statewide level (5/6 offices are theirs)
- At the regional level (all 5 PSC members are Republicans)
- At the county level (most county commissioners are Republicans)
- And at the local level (most city councils are Republican, and Republicans hold the legislature)
Money isn’t everything.
For Democrats, all the money they bring in each month isn’t translating into electoral success.
We’ve seen this over the past 18 months that we’ve been looking into these reports.
Despite that, nothing changes.
The current, high-level members of the Montana Democratic Party would rather pamper themselves than win.
For if they did indeed cut back on spending, reduce their staff, and roll back salaries, they’d have more money to put into competitive races.
But they don’t do this.
It baffles me why that’s the case, and why so many Democratic voters in the state put up with it.
Well…most have no idea how bad the situation has become.
Few read this site, and fewer share what they’ve read here with friends and neighbors.
So nothing changes.
For Democrats that know there’s a serious problem with how the Party is functioning in this state, this must be incredibly frustrating.
For Republicans that have been in the majority for years, this must be extremely satisfying.
And with that said, let’s get into the reports.
Montana GOP August Finances
The Party also has around $12,000 in debt, mostly from Minnesota’s Strategic Fundraising.
We know that individuals gave the Party around $8,000 while PACs gave $6,500.
In addition to that, another $5,000 are labeled as “unitemized” contributions, while another $29,000 was transferred from other Party committees.
Some of the PAC/committee money includes:
- $15,500 from the RNC
- $13,000 from the Rosendale Victory Fund
- $2,500 from GForce
- $2,500 from Steve Daines for Montana
- $1,500 from BNSF Railway PAC
When it comes to spending, here are some things that stood out to me:
- $5,200 to Minnesota’s FLS Connect for telemarketing fundraising
- $4,200 to Virginia’s Campaign Solutions for email marketing and website work
- $1,800 reimbursed to Debra Lamm
- $1,400 to Virginia’s Advantage Direct Communications for data consulting
- $760 to fly on Delta
- $600 for a trip to Austin, Texas
Alright…let’s discuss Debra Lamm, who was elected Chairwoman of the Montana GOP last summer.
Now, I’m not sure if she’s the problem, but she is the one listed as being reimbursed for all of the eating out, travel, hotel stays and taxi rides that the GOP took part in last month.
For instance, nearly $1,400 was spent staying in 4 different hotels, one of them a Trump hotel in Florida.
Another $300 was spent eating out for the month.
Compared to what the Democrats spend, that’s not too much…but I do feel someone should keep their eye on it.
Personally, I feel most of that money was simply wasted. If it’s not being used on the ground to elect Republicans then it’s not being used properly.
Currently the GOP is getting more feet on the ground, with several new hires.
Here’s what the staff looks like:
- $2,591 for Caleb Hinkle
- $2,420 for John Durnal
- $2,386 for John Branham
- $2,386 for Kelsey Cooley
- $2,136 for Drew Zinecker
- $923 for Barry Mykaila
- $909 for Susan Smith
- $909 for Tori Koch
- $866 for Nate Wordal
- $866 for Drew Iverson
- $848 for David Zellmer
- $734 for Ian Sibbert
- $212 for Tyson Madison
Those 13 staffers make over $18,000 a month in salary, with another $6,200 going for payroll taxes. I didn’t see any expenditures for healthcare.
The main problem for the GOP is that they spent $16,000 more than they took in for the month.
Some of those highly-paid staffers should sit down and discuss this, and figure out how to do better next month.
Personally, I view it as a spending problem, not a revenue problem.
Montana Democrats’ August Finances
We know that $16,000 came from individuals and that $17,000 was “unitemized” contributions.
Another $13,000 from PACs and $504,000 was transferred from other party committees, with another $25,000 transferred from non-federal accounts.
Most of the transfers come from the DSCC, which moved $375,000 over to the Party on July 2.
Here are some things that stood out to me on the spending side:
- $18,000 to San Francisco’s Tulchin Research for polling
- $15,000 to D.C.’s MSCR for polling
- $4,500 to D.C.’s New Blue Interactive for donor development
- $3,700 to rent Great Falls’ Mansfield Center for the Performing Arts
- $3,000 to D.C.’s Chraca Friedman Group for fundraising consulting
- $1,500 to Helena’s K&J Convention Services for decorations
- $700 flying on Delta
But those items aren’t what troubles me.
What I’m mystified by is how much the Montana Democrats spend on just 4 things:
- $243,000 for Payroll Taxes and Related Expenses
- $161,000 on Salaries
- $3,700 on Hotels
- $1,300 on Eating Out
Those four things come to $409,000.
That effectively means the Dems only have $166,000 left of the $576,000 they raised for the month.
I’m not going to list the 85 people that the Democrats have on staff, but I will mention those making the most money:
- $6,175 for Nancy Keenan
- $6,126 for Megan Simpson
- $4,530 for Austin Lyle
- $4,491 for Trent Bolger
- $4,387 for Ted Dick
- $3,811 for Julie Laliberte
- $3,658 for Brooke Bainum
- $3,650 for Roy Lowenstein
- $3,602 for Chris Collins
- $3,100 for Nick Lockridge
It’s also interesting to note that the Montana Democrats paid Thai Nguyen $1,110 in July, the same month that James Conner said “if Blue Bench Nguyen and witness Nguyen are the same man, that raises some interesting questions regarding the conduct of the MDP.”
Democrats now have 85 people on staff compared to the 13 people that the Republicans have.
And Democrats pay a lot more too – the highest paid Dem is making over $6,000 a month while the highest paid GOPer is making just $2,600.
Democrats are also worried about which way the winds are blowing. They spent over $30,000 on polling in July, while the GOP spent nothing.
Can’t wait to see how it all plays out come November.