January 14, 2007
2006 State Republican Party Fundraising Doesn't Look Good

Luke Esser recently responded to some questions I posed to he and Diane Tebelius given their competition to be Chair of the Washington State Republican Party (WSRP). As part of those answers, Esser broached the notion that State Party fundraising wasn't what it should have been last year. Thus intrigued, I've been doing some research on the matter and have concluded there are indeed some troublesome issues with the State Party's 2006 fundraising. As with my repeated offers on the previous set of questions that have as of yet gone unanswered, I would welcome a response from Tebelius on these issues.

In short, I found that Tebelius' fundraising in 2006 was not impressive. Corporate contributions to the WSRP were particularly low, as were contributions to the account the WSRP uses to directly support candidates. Meanwhile, it appears Tebelius used money given to support candidates to pay off legal debt instead, in an attempt to compensate for poor fundraising for a more logical account from which to pay that obligation.

Before I go further, let me explain the easiest ways to obtain the information I'm referencing. Go to the PDC's website and click on "Search the Database." From there you can select either "Detailed Expenditures made by State Party Committees" or "Detailed Contributions to State Party Committees." Under each category the WSRP has an Exempt Account and a Non-Exempt Account. Within these descriptions you can search by campaign year, which is a lot of what I did for my research. For ease of description, Exempt money is a more general pot of money to pay for assorted party expenses (such as legal fees). Non-Exempt money is for direct support of state candidates. With that understanding in mind, here's what I found.

First, the total of corporate contributions to the Exempt Account was alarmingly low in 2006, only about $125,000. In contrast, such contributions totaled over $320,000 in 2005, about $437,000 in 2004, $256,000 in 2003, and nearly $299,000 in 2002. Such contributions to the Exempt Account are particularly important because one of the State Party's highest priorities in 2006 was to finish paying off the legal debt from the aftermath of the 2004 Governor's race; this is the best account from which to accomplish that goal. That is true in part because large corporations like Boeing, Microsoft, Weyerhaeuser, etc. routinely give the State Party large contributions and since there are no limits on such corporate donations to the Exempt Account. By a rational understanding of how our state campaign finance laws work, fundraising for this account should have been a high priority for Tebelius, yet performance in 2006 was far from impressive.

In perspective, the $125,000 of corporate contributions in 2006 was part of $411,000 in total cash contributions to the Exempt Account. By comparison, the previous year's $320,000 in corporate contributions was part of a $906,000 total. And 2002, the last year of a non-Presidential legislative cycle similar to 2006, saw $299,000 in corporate contributions as part of a $1,026,000 total. While the dynamics of each year obviously vary, it's tough to view the 2006 numbers in a positive light.

Second, the money raised for the State Non-Exempt Account was also quite poor. This is the account where money raised goes directly to candidate support. Yet, of the $283,000 plus raised in this account (itself not a good sum), $258,500 came from other Republican campaign committees transferring funds to be directed to support assorted candidates. That means Tebelius raised only a little over $25,000 on her own to support state candidates directly this past election cycle. That's not good.

In perspective, state parties have a capped amount of money they can spend on legislative candidates, in conjunction with the caucus campaign committees (see this link for the limits by Legislative District, the limit in question is in the State/Caucus column). Yet, the State Party didn't come close to spending the money it could have to support a number of candidates who lost close elections. Here are some examples:

- Rep. Jon Serben lost by 260 votes in the 6th LD; the WSRP spent no money of the $57,280.30 possible under the cap

- Don Anderson lost by 1,139 votes in the 28th LD; the WSRP spent no money under the $42,459.90 possible under the cap

- Rep. Jan Shabro lost by 2,196 votes in the 31st LD; the WSRP spent $20,803.47 of the $49,609.70 possible under the cap

- Sen. Dave Schmidt lost by 2,064 votes in the 44th LD; the WSRP spent no money of the $54,489.40 possible under the cap

- Rep. Toby Nixon lost by 2,780 votes in the 45th LD; the WSRP spent $9,403.20 of the $53,234.30 possible under the cap

- Mike Riley lost by 1,633 votes in the 47th LD; WSRP spent $28,209.60 of the $46,069.10 possible under the cap

There are other examples, but those jumped out to me as the most problematic. Granted it was a tough year for Republicans, but that's a lot of spending power left on the table that could have been utilized to support candidates, which is in the end the Party's primary purpose.

The last issue I should point out is curious. As I noted above, fundraising for the Exempt Account should be one of the easier tasks of the Chair's fundraising responsibilities. At minimum it should have been a high priority under the circumstances. Yet, such fundraising was so weak, especially corporate fundraising, it appears Tebelius transferred money from accounts designed for supporting candidates to the Exempt account instead, to pay the last of the legal debt from post-2004 litigation. A WSRP C3 report on the PDC's web site dated 12/6 shows an 11/30 transfer into the Exempt Account of over $90,000 from the WSRP's Federal account and $8,500 from the state Non-Exempt Account. The same day, checks were written for $100,000 to James Duffy to repay a loan used to cover legal debt, and for $20,000 to Dale Foreman's law firm for legal debt as well. An additional check to Foreman's firm for $5,000 was written on 12/4.

By all appearances, Tebelius saved money that could have gone directly to support candidates or for GOTV, and instead transferred it to the Exempt Account after the election to pay off the remaining legal debt (which as I understand is now completely retired). If fundraising for the Exempt Account had been anywhere near that of a typical year such an odd step wouldn't have been necessary.

In summary, I found three notable problems. One, fundraising for the Exempt Account was substantially lower than past years, especially in terms of corporate contributions. Two, fundraising for the Non-Exempt Account was low, thus not taking advantage of a significant amount of money the WSRP was otherwise legally able to spend on direct candidate support in a tough election year. Three, because of the weak fundraising for the Exempt Account, it appears money that could have been spent in support of candidates was transferred to pay off legal debt instead.

In fairness, I have been involved in campaigns where some actions by a party organization might seem peculiar to an outside observer, but in reality there is a logical explanation. I'm open to that possibility here. That being said, however, the PDC reports themselves do seem quite clear.

I would welcome a response by Tebelius to address these issues, or the previous questions I have posed to twice. In the meantime, if I was a voting member of the State Committee I would have serious questions for her in the appropriate setting, particularly since fundraising ability was one of the strengths on which she ran her original campaign for Chair.

Posted by Eric Earling at January 14, 2007 10:34 PM | Email This
Comments
1. Eric, you are a genius. This is exactly what I was saying weeks ago. Diane Tebelius is LYING about her fundraising abilities. Her skill is in hiding money and transferring dollars from account to account. I can only hope that members of the State Committee pay attention to this instead of listening to the fantasy stories she tells. The Republican party can not survive with her at the helm.

Posted by: Don Johnson on January 14, 2007 11:29 PM
2. maybe it's R's attitudes.

"they're in control anyway. cant be done. earth is flat. why waste resources. cant bore through that mountain."

guerilla forces historically dont have that attitude. they fight and keep chipping away.

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on January 15, 2007 04:06 AM
3. I told the state Republican party that I would not give money to them to be spent on Republicans that voted to raise the gas tax and other heinous votes during the last 2 legislative cycles.

I contribute to Conservatives directly!

Posted by: Norm Gilbertson on January 15, 2007 05:55 AM
4. Seems the R don't understand that conservatives will not give money to middle of the roaders and RINOS that hijacked the party. The party is now married to special interest. Good luck.

Posted by: Snuffy on January 15, 2007 06:54 AM
5. I said all along in the post-mortem that money should have been spent on the message and not on McGavick. His campaign sucked us dry- both financially and spiritually.

Posted by: swatter on January 15, 2007 08:47 AM
6. this is bad news- and an affirmation of why I always donate directly to the candidate's campaign...and even outside of political life I NEVER donate to sum big bucket of money fund for some 'good' cause that I believe in (see Thurston Pundits on my poke at Lance Armstrong and cancer funding)

When Rossi comes out- pens will hit checks. You can bank on that.

Posted by: Andy on January 15, 2007 09:12 AM
7. this is bad news- and an affirmation of why I always donate directly to the candidate's campaign...and even outside of political life I NEVER donate to sum big bucket of money fund for some 'good' cause that I believe in (see Thurston Pundits on my poke at Lance Armstrong and cancer funding)

When Rossi comes out- pens will hit checks. You can bank on that.

Posted by: Andy on January 15, 2007 09:13 AM
8. Does it really make any difference who the Chair is? The policy for the last decade has been to allocate 99% of all funds to the 8th District and let the rest wither on the vine. A good example was Randy Tate in 1996. I still barely know my candidates names from 2006 and as usual they are now also rans.

Posted by: RHD on January 15, 2007 09:31 AM
9. Not me Andy. My pen won't go on any party check till the party gets its act together. It needs to start in Seattle (read Berens) at the City Council level. Then it has to go for name familiarity.

In my opinion, give the money to the young bucks like Eric and Stefan and let them run the party. Sure, they would make a ton of mistakes but you know, after a few years, they will be there. It won't be overnight, but still, it won't be the next century using the tried and true (or is it false?).

Posted by: swatter on January 15, 2007 09:45 AM
10. Count me in -- Eric Earling for WSRP Chairman

Posted by: Whiskey Dick on January 15, 2007 09:51 AM
11. I'm not giving one stinking penny to RINOs that go along to get along. I don't need them to take baseball bats to chambers but I want some sort of organized opposition along classic conservative principles (ie: smaller government, less taxes, less intrusive government, market based solutions). Gilbertson @ #3 and Snuffy @ #4 have the right idea. I think that Swatter has also a very good point. After the smoking the Rs took nationally, I'm just exhausted. To heck with those "Republicans" in Olympia.

We need Rossi.

Posted by: G Jiggy on January 15, 2007 09:53 AM
12. I think it's great that Tebelius moved all that money around to pay off the debt. If only much of the previous debt hadn't been owed to Tebelius for the outrageous amount of money she charged the state party for her part in the governor's race lawsuit.

Posted by: Jay_yaJ on January 15, 2007 09:56 AM
13. Yes, Jay_yaJ - that's right. I heard somewhere that during the Rossi recount Diane hung around with all the other lawyers, then sent the State Party a bill for $100,000 for her "services". That's a whole lot of money for a couple weeks "work". This was before she was state party chair.

Posted by: Don Johnson on January 15, 2007 10:28 AM
14. I'm not going to say don't fight the good fight, or that there could not be better folks in control of the Republicans in this state. But frankly, I don't donate any money here because this state is mostly a lost cause. With poor Republican leadership that often looks exactly like Democrat leadership (OK, maybe not quite so moonbatish) throwing money in at this point is a bad investment. It would be like putting a lot of money in the stock of a company with a bad CEO and no plan to get the company back to profitability. Once I see a plan, and some leadership, maybe I will change my mind.

For starters, take a look at Mitt Romney's new technology based fund-raising. And stop cowering and loudly point out the destruction of this state by the monstrous progressives who are in power.

Posted by: Jeff B. on January 15, 2007 10:32 AM
15. Giving anything to the RINOs or loony liberals is not an option. If there were any conservatives anywhere it might be an issue.

Sure as hell not going to give Quitter rossi a damn cent so he can roll over again.

Field someone worth supporting in any party - I no longer think that it is possible for someone vaguely honest to get through all the corruption.

Yes, disgusted beyond words...

Posted by: fox3 on January 15, 2007 11:13 AM
16. Interesting stuff, Diane made some rather
questionable moves during the past election
cycle. I do think to much emphasis was put
on the McGavick campaign. The money could and
should have been used on state legislative races.


However I don't think she is completely to blame
for all the fund raising problems. Chris Vance
did more to hamper fund raising in the State Gop
then Diane Tebelius ever has.

A light is beginning to shine at the end of the
tunnel though. As one more person I think is
about to enter the state chair race.When this
happens it will shake the rafters of the State
Gop. No its not Susan Hutchison. I will leave that
to your imagination

Posted by: phil spackman on January 15, 2007 11:20 AM
17. Um, Phil? Did you read what Eric wrote in this article? Chris Vance was the Chair in 2002 through 2005. Take a look at the amount of money raised then compared to 2006. Diane's numbers clearly can't compare to Vance's, particularily the corporate dollars. How is that hampering fundraising?

Posted by: Don Johnson on January 15, 2007 12:04 PM
18. I have written for years that there isn't a way for Republicans to shoot themselves in the foot they haven't already thought of, but that I have great confidence in their ability to invent new ones. Reading most of what appears above, just reaffirms that belief.

What's the definiation of "Insanity?" It's doing the something that doesn't work over and over and over and over and expecting a different result. That's the story of the Republican Party in this state. In spite of how close Dino came, there's REASON there hasn't been a Republican governor since 1980 - and it doesn't have anything to do with King County elections, Diane Tebelius, or even Chris Vance. It's the same reason the Democrats kicked ass statewide in November.

The bottom line is that the Republican Party is out of step with the mainstream voters in this state. Those of you going on about RINO's and trying to outconservative each other are completely clueless about how the majority of Washington voters think, and what is important to them.

While I embrace some conservative values - primarily love of country, freedom of expression, and fiscal restraint, I think of myself generally as a centrist. Observations have led me to believe that staunch conservatives tend to spend way too much time talking only to each other in order to validate their thinking, and not nearly enough time talking, and more importantly, listening to folks with differing opinions. And when they do, they tend to dismiss those opinions out of hand without exploring or valuing the rationale behind them.

The answer is that the party HAS to move towards the center. Why? Because that's where the voters are!!! Until conservatives "get it" that it's NOT about ideological purity, but about electing Republicans, nothing is going to change and the Democrats will continue to have carte blanche in Washington.

The party is all but irrevelant now. As long as conservatives would rather fight with the centrists in the party than partner with them to defeat Democrats, the Democrats will only continue to expand their control. This kind of reminds me of Golda Mier (at least I think it was her) who when asked what it would take to bring peace to the Middle East, answered, "We will have peace when the Arabs learn to love their children more than they hate us."

Republicans will make political gains in this state only when they realize they need to work with people from within their own party they disagree with, towards a common goal -- electing Republicans -- and that insisting everyone they'll even think of supporting adhere to an inflexable ideology that's out of step with the majority of state voters, will defeat them every time.

Posted by: The Firewalker on January 15, 2007 12:11 PM
19. "I think of myself generally as a centrist."

What in the heck is a "centrist"? In my experience that's usually another word for liberal.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on January 15, 2007 12:31 PM
20. Don,

Towards the end of Vance's tenure he had a very
difficult time raising money.It was because
he had almost no support left in the party.
He had alienated most of the base and they wern't
about to give the State Gop a dime.


Diane has had to deal with that and its a lot
to overcome. Again she made some rather
questionable moves during this past election cycle.. Diane I think put most of
her eggs in McGavick's basket. This among
other things will not help her chances of
getting reelected.

Posted by: phil spackman on January 15, 2007 01:11 PM
21. Phil, are you saying that Mark Hulst is running for state party chair, or are you just trying to recruit him to run?

Posted by: Don Johnson on January 15, 2007 02:19 PM
22. I'm sure there are plenty of excuses, reasons and exceptional conditions. As a small business owner, if I have a manager who reports sales down 50-60%, they are gone. When the gross is down 10-20%, there can be extenuating circumstances, when it's down 50-60%, you won't have a going concern unless you make changes NOW!

Posted by: Brett Malin on January 15, 2007 02:40 PM
23. You guys are stuck with Bush, Rummy, Elaine, Condosleezza, Perle, Wolfie, Deadeye Dick, and thousands more.

Keep up the good fight and try to find good candidates. There have to be one or two out there.

Posted by: Jim on January 15, 2007 03:26 PM
24. I gave the State Party money again after having cut them off totally for about a decade. I let them know that they were on probation and if they expected my support in the future that I expected results. Never again, is all I have to say. The State Party will never again see so much as a wooden nickel from me. All my donations will be to individuals whom I have personally vetted.

Posted by: JDH on January 15, 2007 03:38 PM
25. Jim, we are also stuck with you and your butchering of the English language. If you are going to do a body slam make sure you are prepared for a countermove.

Posted by: swatter on January 15, 2007 03:59 PM
26. Well, you all remember the outcome of the various Vance disasters, right?

The EBoard gave him pay raises.

Man, did that send a message, or what?

Posted by: Hinton on January 15, 2007 04:04 PM
27. Firewalker, McG was your guy, a real centrist ... he got smoked. Every centrist R has been smoked in the last 3 election cycles.

The reason in the last election cycle is because most people don't know what a Republican is anymore. Is anyone going to buy what the Republicans selling?

Rossi almost won because he came across like a really nice guy and his ads did wonders reinforcing his image. His success (almost) will be tough to duplicate.

Posted by: John McDonald on January 15, 2007 04:21 PM
28. I agree with most of what has been written here before me.

I have contacted the National Republican Party and informed them that until and unless they change there stance on Illegal Immigration, Border Security, and other issues important to most Conservatives they will NOT be getting ANY money from me.

It goes without saying that the same goes for the State Republican Party!

Posted by: David on January 15, 2007 07:28 PM
29. In response to, "Firewalker, McG was your guy, a real centrist ... he got smoked. Every centrist R has been smoked in the last 3 election cycles."

And exactly HOW MANY conservatives have been elected here in the Evergreen State?

Posted by: Thefirewalker on January 15, 2007 08:26 PM
30. "Luke Esser recently responded to some questions I posed to he and Diane Tebelius given their competition to be Chair of the Washington State Republican Party (WSRP)."

Him, not he. It's an objective pronoun. If the verb had one object rather than two, you would not say, "Luke Esser recently responded to some questions I posed to he." Let's try to set a good example to the products of Washington public schools who read this blog.

Posted by: dave on January 15, 2007 08:31 PM
31. And exactly HOW MANY conservatives have been elected here in the Evergreen State?

Dino Rossi... well, until the KC Elections Department botched the election.

Posted by: Mike H on January 15, 2007 08:35 PM
32. Out of HOW MANY who ran for office?

Like I said earlier, What's the definiation of "Insanity?" It's doing the something that doesn't work over and over and over and over and expecting a different result.

But somehow, I don't expect the right wingers to ever grasp the clue that's right in front of their faces. The simple fact is there are significantly more moderate voters in Washington than conservatives. For the party to be able to elect Republicans, it has to address their issues and articulate themes that resonate with them in a calm, logical, common sense manner. That's what Rossi did - and it worked.

Kitsap County also proved this point in November. The choice was a staunch conservative, property rights advocate named Jack Hamilton, vs. an unemployed, unqualified, 25-year old Berkeley graduate named Josh Brown. Hamilton articulated the usual right wing positions on just about every issue. Brown won by almost 7,000 votes. So what does the party do? They elect Hamilton county chair.

Is it just me?

Oh well... The more things change, the more they remain the same.

Posted by: The Firewalker on January 16, 2007 09:00 AM
33. Firewalker,

I would like for you to tell me how much money he
received from the State Gop? I would be willing
to bet that Jack Hamilton got very little support
from the state. It takes money to win races and
since most of the candidates got very little
support from the state party its no surprise
that they suffered massive losses.


I am sick and tired of listening to people
like you that blame losses on the fact the
someone was a conservative. I would submit
to you that each that lost over and over again
got almost no support from the state party.
I think I know the individuals you are speaking of
that lost over and over again.

Most of these people lost because the state
party did almost nothing to help them. The
reason they didn't help is because they were
conservative. For too long the state party
leadership has held the belief that conservatives cant win. I know if they actually
got behind one the result would be the exact
opposite.

Posted by: phil spackman on January 16, 2007 03:55 PM
34. If you think the state party's tactics sucked by concentrating on the Reichert race, you should study how HROC (House Republican Organizing Committee) totally screwed up. It spent over $230k of wacko candidates without a prayer except their own and less that $75k defending its incumbents. Republican conservatives aren't playing to win. Frank Chopp is kicking their butts.

Posted by: Whacky on January 16, 2007 04:01 PM
35. Hey firewalker or firewater: In talking about the need for centrist candidates in Kitsap (and elsewhere), you fail to recognize that the Hamilton candidate ran a lame campaign. Hamilton was too arrogant and block headed to bother to define his opponent in aggressive terms and to define who he was. Instead Hamilton never used the media, letters to editor, columns, speaking other than to his base. To this day the press refers to Hamilton as the "self-described ideologue."

The use by Fireman of this race is not perfect since Hamilton did a poor job running a competitive race even against someone still living with Mommy and Daddy.

Posted by: Shogun on January 16, 2007 04:24 PM
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