Fundraisers jilt Dean.
Democratic sources link the resignations to Dean’s decision to focus on raising money in small increments through the Internet, as he did during his 2004 presidential bid, and building up the party’s grassroots infrastructure while paying little attention to major Democratic donors.
But other Democrats say the first several months after a party’s losing presidential campaign are naturally a time of transition and it will take time for committee officials to get their “sea legs.”
Dean’s defenders also note that DNC fundraising is ahead of where it was at this point after the last presidential election, when Democrats could still raise unlimited amounts of soft money.
The committee’s finance directors for the two biggest hubs of Democratic fundraising have quit. Bridget Siegel, finance director for New York and the surrounding area, resigned last week, and Lori Kreloff, finance director for California, left the committee last month.
A third top DNC fundraiser, Nancy Eiring, the director of grassroots fundraising, has also resigned, citing strategic differences with aides to Dean, according to a report yesterday in ABC News’ “The Note.”Siegel told The Hill that she remained at the DNC for the first few months of the year only to help with the transition to leadership under a new chairman and that “Dean is moving the party in a great direction.” Siegel will raise money for Andrew Cuomo’s race for New York attorney general.
Kreloff has set up her own consulting firm, LBK Consulting Inc., and has signed on Maryland Senate hopeful Rep. Ben Cardin (D) as a new client. She said Dean is “doing a wonderful job building the grassroots.”
Democratic fundraisers say that there is growing concern over what they call Dean’s lack of attention to major donors and that donors are much less likely to give money if they don’t have sufficient opportunity to meet with the party’s leadership.
Dean stressed Internet fundraising at a speech he delivered in Washington last week at a “Take Back America” convention of liberal activists and strategists sponsored by Campaign for America’s Future.
In that speech, Dean said many Republicans have “never made an honest living in their lives,” a remark that has prompted criticism from Republicans and caused such Democrats as Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) to distance themselves from Dean.
Concern over Dean’s remarks has fused with concern over the party’s fundraising pace compared with that of Republicans.
Through the end of April, the DNC raised $18.2 million in total contributions, according to a report filed with the Federal Election Commission, although DNC officials say that $18.6 million is a more accurate total.
By comparison, the Republican National Committee has raised $42.6 million, according to FEC data — more than twice as much.
The disparity comes as a shock to many Democrats who touted the ability of Democrats to match roughly the GOP’s fundraising in last year’s election.
However, Steve Grossman, who was DNC chairman in the 1998 election cycle, defended Dean.
“In any period of new leadership, in any organization, there’s going to be a transition, a shakedown period, and people are going to find their sea legs over a period of time,” he said.
(6-7-05, The Hill.)