The first report can be seen here.
Before we get started, some good news.
It was reported on Thursday morning on Huffington Post that the DCCC is “making an initial six-figure investment into the Montana state party to back Quist’s campaign.”
We’re told the Party can spend that as it sees fit – perhaps on “mail, television, or door-knocking operations” – and that it’s “unlikely to be the last cash infusion from the national party.”
So this is very good news.
Still, I’m worried.
I’m worried because the Montana Democratic Party can use that money any way it wants.
When we look at their spending reports, we see that some of those ways are questionable.
Let’s get into it.
The April report that the Montana Democratic Party submitted to the FEC is 104 pages long.
Right away on the summary page we learn that the Montana Democrats had:
- $231,688 received from donors in March
- $128,271 in total disbursements in March
- $245,160 cash on hand at the beginning of April
If we dig more into those donations we find that the MT Dems took $24,000 in PAC money in March.
They also took in $18,000 in transfers from other party committees.
I’m not much interested in the individual donors, which take up about 65 pages of the report.
It’s the spending side that interests me and that starts on page 71 of the report.
Here’s what stood out to me:
- $3,500 to Missoula’s Campaign Compliance for accounting
- $2,900 to use the DNC’s voter access network
- $1,700 to California’s Gordon & Schwenkmeyer for fundraising consultation
- $1,600 to Chicago’s Blue State Digital for web service
- $900 to Virginia’s Direct Connect for credit card processing fees
- $630 to Clancy’s Meld Media for graphic design
Employees were paid on the 3rd and 20th, and here’s their total pay for the month:
- Nancy Keenan: $7,417
- Trent Bolger: $4,453
- Allison Dale-Riddle: $3,940
- Kristen Cates: $3,334
- Justin Ailport: $3,078
- Nick Lockridge: $2,986
- Chris Meagher: $550
- James Oberembt: $156
That comes out to nearly $26,000 a month for those 8 people.
If you want to get into how much they make an hour – assuming they’re working a 40-hour week – it’d come to:
- Nancy Keenan: $46/hour
- Trent Bolger: $27/hour
- Allison Dale-Riddle: $24/hour
- Kristen Cates: $20/hour
The Montana Democratic Party has to pay payroll taxes for those 8 staffers, and that’s done through the Illinois company, Paychex.
Total payroll taxes exceeded $37,000.
So for March, the Montana Democrats paid out over $63,000 just so they could keep those 8 people on staff.
Let’s just make that $65,000 since the Party gives $2,200 to Texas’s Health Care Service Corporation for their health insurance.
Remember, all of the Montana Democratic Party’s operating expenses come from your donations.
The $5-here-and-$10-there donations they hound you for via email…well, why do you think they do that?
So they can keep paying themselves.
Now let’s get to the Mansfield-Metcalf Dinner.
Here are some costs associated with that shindig:
- $30,000 for Chili O’Brien Catering
- $8,500 to Black Eagle’s Severson Productions for sound and staging
- $4,500 to Helena’s K & K Convention Services for decorations
- $5,000 to the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds for site rental
- $200 to Helena’s Alex Lee for entertainment
- $200 to Helena’s Anna Milburn for entertainment
- $200 to Helena’s Don Stone for entertainment
- $200 to Clancy’s Simon Valdez for entertainment
That comes out to just under $49,000.
We figured on the day after that if they'd sold tickets at $60 apiece to the 1,200 attendees then they'd have made $72,000 from the event.
Remember, the Party took in $231,000 for the month so I guess you could call that shindig a success.
Besides that whopping get-together, the Dems had a few more, on March 9 and 29, to be exact. They had some expensive catering for this.
Here’s that plus the total meals for the month:
- Chili O’Brien Catering: $5,000
- Montana City Grill: $4,400
- Costco Meals: $110
- Blackfoot River Brewing Co. Meals: $35
So meals for the month came to over $9,500.
Here’s a complete graph of spending for the month of March:
All that spending comes out to $135,000.
I know they’re not used to being held accountable, like I’m doing with them now.
So it’ll take another month or so to get some of those expenses down.
If we compare spending from the March and April reports we find that:
- They had over $100,000 more cash on hand this past month.
- They didn’t transfer any money to the DNC, like the $25,000 they gave them last time.
- They paid out $6,000 more in salaries this month than last.
- They spent $8,700 more on eating out/catering this month than last.
- They spent about $1,300 less on credit card fees this month.
- They spent $1,500 more on the DNC’s voter access network than last month.
- They didn’t give any money to Rob Quist, though perhaps some of that event catering benefited him…I dunno.
So some things are getting better, some are getting worse.
The May report will be up around this time next month. I hope you’ll stop by again to read it.