Friday, September 9, 2011

Maryland GOP Overspends, Can't Save Money // Plus, Meet GOP Chair Alex Mooney

UPDATE: A reader has pointed out that the totals we report below are from the parties' federal filings. The situation is even worse for the GOP when you factor in the Maryland finance reports. As of the January 19, 2011 filings, the Maryland GOP started the year with $430.66 cash-on-hand and $48,796.80 in debt. Compare that to the Democrats' $306,535.09 cash and zero debt.

Maryland's Republican Party, like much of the nation's GOP, has veered sharply to the extreme right. We've highlighted a few examples of this in recent weeks (ie: government privatization efforts in Frederick, Islamophobia in Montgomery, conservative anti-tax propaganda, etc). Much of this change is reflected in the state party's leadership, too. Enter Maryland Republican Party Chair Alex Mooney.

When Mooney campaigned to take control of the Maryland Republicans, he pledged to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to help candidates across the state. Below, we check in how he's doing midway through 2011 and highlight some fishy financial activity on Mr. Mooney's ledger. But first, Maryland Juice will provide a quick profile of Alex Mooney.

Maryland GOP Chair Alex Mooney took the reins of the party in December 2010, after serving in the State Senate for three consecutive terms. While in Annapolis, Mooney sabotaged a number of good government and civil rights efforts. The Frederick News-Post in 2009 wrote:
...Mooney was ranked the lowest in the state by Progressive Maryland.

Executive Director Sean Dobson said Mooney successfully introduced a poison amendment to their campaign finance bill that unraveled the compromise.

"He was very effective, but working for the wrong side -- working for special interests and against working families," Dobson said.
The Washington Post earlier this year, also noted this about Mooney:
As the chamber's most outspoken social conservative during his 12-year tenure, it was his ouster from his Frederick seat that led to the committee shuffle that could allow a gay-marriage bill to pass.
Mooney was finally defeated by the Democrats last year when former Frederick Mayor Ron Young eked out a narrow victory. (Yes, Senator Young's son is outspoken Republican leader Blaine Young).

Just as soon as he lost his Senate seat, Mooney picked up a new role as MD GOP chair. He won his job in the kickoff to the GOP's 2010 post-election soul-searching. The Baltimore Sun, at the time, wrote:
Departing state Sen. Alex X. Mooney has been elected chairman of the Maryland Republican Party after a contested election. He edged out Mary Kane, who ran for lieutenant governor this year....

Ehrlich's 14.5-percentage point loss to O'Malley last month in a year that was good for Republicans elsewhere has stirred debate within the Maryland GOP, with some saying the party should focus more on local elections than on the top of the ticket, while others want to aggressively recruit new members from Democratic strongholds such as Baltimore.
Alex Mooney represents exactly the type of GOP candidate who can't win even in a year when Republicans are sweeping the nation. It is for that reason that he is a strange choice for a party needing a turnaround. But Mooney is not a strange choice for a party that is acting irrationally. Remember that 2010 was not just a good year for the Republicans, it was also a good year for the ideological extremists in Republican primaries. Mooney's taking control of the GOP is simply a reflection of that mentality spreading into the party's leadership structure.

But luckily for Maryland's more mainstream residents, these types of theatrics (while cyclical) are often short-lived. Indeed, Mooney is not doing a good job at running the Maryland GOP, according to the very measures he established himself. When Mooney campaigned for GOP activists' support, Red Maryland reported that he promised the following:
In addition to being a workhorse for the party, as Chairman I would commit to raising the money described in my attached proposal.  I also urge you to ask for and expect the other candidates seeking leadership position in the party to raise the money listed in my proposal.

It is my understanding that the state party in 2011 will have to spend at least $25,000 per month to fund the needs of the small staff and overhead expenses, which is approximately $300,000 for the year.  The additional $200,000 would go toward helping elect candidates.

In the election year of 2012, with eight U.S. House of Representative seats and one U.S. Senate seat up for election in Maryland, we should increase the net amount raised to at least $700,000.  While this is less than our Democrat opponents, it is a reasonable amount to expect our party leaders to raise and it is crucial to electing our candidates.
So Mooney promised to cover the GOP's $300,000 of expenses for 2011 and bank $200,000 for candidates. That amounts to a $500,000 fundraising pledge. According to the mid-year FEC reports (through 7/31/11), the Maryland GOP has raised $231,353 -- that is almost 50% of Mooney's fundraising target for the year. However, Mooney has also spent almost every penny. So how come the GOP only has $23,798 cash-on-hand -- far short of the $200,000 promise Mooney made to GOP candidates?

I looked at every single entry in Mooney's Maryland GOP expense report, and unless I'm not reading this correctly, it appears that not one penny has been gone directly to support a GOP candidate. The vast majority of the expenses are staff, health care, and fundraising expenses.

Maryland GOP donors be warned: your party appears to need
downsizing & CEO pay reduction, plus health & pension cuts. 
I understand these are tough times, but we all need to sacrifice.

Also, you should ask Mr. Mooney what category of political expense "Chairman's Expenses" fall under. I've run a few campaigns, and I've never heard of that one. Is that a fundraising expense or is it a Palin-sized wardrobe? In any event, it is a $776.43 check for Mr. Mooney without further specificity. Taxpayers donors demand accountability!

Maryland Democrats, at the same time, raised $644,144 and now have $340,469 cash-on-hand.

Apparently to cover up the crappy job he's doing as Party chair, Mooney is also back to his old tricks. He wants to scapegoat the LGBT community just to show Maryland Republicans how to use ballot initiatives. The Washington Post had this illuminating quote:
Mooney, in the position of speaking for a state party he is hoping to turn in a more conservative direction, is placing his hopes in voters, who could overturn the [marriage equality] bill on the 2012 ballot.

But in Maryland, opponents would have to collect more than 55,000 valid signatures statewide within a matter of months to put the issue to voters. It's a tall order in a state where organizers couldn't muster enough signatures to challenge the addition of sexual orientation to the human rights law a decade ago.

Mooney sees a referendum push as a way to invigorate moribund state Republicans. "I just think we need to do it on something once to show Marylanders it can be done," he said.
If you want to contact Maryland GOP Chair Alex Mooney to ask him what a Chairman's expense is, I created this handy contact form for you. It sends directly to Mooney's GOP Chair address. Enjoy!

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