On Sept. 26, under criticism for his handling of party finances (among other things), Jonah Kaauwai resigned as chair of the Hawaii Republican Party.

As Civil Beat reported, the GOP was $94,000 in debt in August, mostly for credit card use and the printing and design of political mailers.

So, how is the Democratic Party of Hawaii doing financially?

According to its latest filing with the Federal Election Commission, Democrats are $74,000 in debt. Most of it is for accounting services and fundraising consultation.

Unlike with Kaauwai and the GOP, no one has publicly raised any concerns about the Dems’ debt or Dante Carpenter, who was enthusiastically re-elected in May 2010 to another term as party chair.

But then, in the 2010 general election, Democrats held their large majorities in the state House and Senate, kept a U.S. Senate and U.S. House seat and took back control of a second U.S. House seat and the governorship.

Latest Figures

The latest filing period for Hawaii Democrats is a mid-year report that covers Jan. 1 through June 30, 2011.

A call to Democrat Party headquarters Friday was not immediately returned, so it is unclear if the party’s finances have changed since the FEC filing.

In the most recent filing, however, the party lists nearly three dozen separate debts and obligations that total $73,968. (Democrats also reported having $43,400 in cash on hand at the end of the six-month period.)

Eighteen creditors are listed, including Carpenter (he’s owed $210 for postage and office supply reimbursements) and Party Executive Director Debi Hartmann ($1,800 for reimbursement of neighbor island travel).

The party also owes about $8,500 for rent on its Ward Warehouse headquarters, and about $4,400 to the Abercrombie for Governor campaign for headquarters rental.

The local accounting firm Endo & Company, meanwhile, is owed about $25,000.

The single largest debt is $15,000 to Virginia-based Fiorello Consulting, a political fundraising and consulting firm serving Democratic candidates.

The Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit watchdog group that tracks campaign spending, reports that Fiorello’s clients included Neil Abercrombie for his 2005-2006 congressional re-election campaigns.

Party In Power

The Democratic Party of Hawaii reported receipts totaling $122,215 (not including cash on hand) for the first six months of the year, and total disbursements of $123,412.

Among the largest contributors to the local party was the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which contributed in-kind online voter file access, payroll and shared office expenses that totaled tens of thousands of dollars.

Abercrombie for Congress transferred $5,000 to the local party. As a candidate for governor, Neil Abercrombie could not use money raised for a federal campaign.

Using DNC funds, the local party paid Hartmann, the executive director, $21,200.

Other payments went to support the usual trappings of a political party: phone bills, cable service, banking, office supplies, T-shirts, get-out-the-vote drives and so forth.

In its post-general election filing, for the period covering Oct. 14 through Nov. 22, 2010, the party listed debts of $6,000 — all of it owed to Endo & Company — and a cash-on-hand balance of $62,000.

Put another way, like Republicans, Democrats’ debt has increased significantly in 2011. That’s because the 2012 election is already underway.

About the Author