Ronald Kessler Reporting from Washington, D.C. -
- The Republican National Committee is beating the Democratic National Committee in fundraising while at the same time providing a model of how the federal government should cut spending.
In the fourth quarter of last year, the RNC raised $27 million, while the DNC raised $23 million. The disparity accelerated in December, when the RNC raised $11.6 million and the DNC raised $8.8 million.
At the same time, the RNC has slashed costs. Last year, the RNC’s spending was 68 percent lower than in 2007 — a comparable period because it was a year before an election.
“I think we restored a lot of credibility and trust back to the organization,” Reince Priebus, chairman of the RNC, tells Newsmax. “We created a presidential trust at the RNC where we set up a separate account for major donors to put their money. They knew that we weren’t going to use much of those major donor dollars to pay down debt, but we would use it to make sure that we had money for the presidential and the targeted Senate and congressional races.”
After being elected chairman of the RNC in January of last year, Priebus sat down with his financial people and got grim news: The once-mighty RNC was broke. It had no money to meet its payroll and other financial obligations the following week.
When Michael Steele took over as chairman of the RNC in January 2009, it had $25 million cash on hand. Now it owed $25 million — $10 million to vendors and $15 million to a bank for a loan.
Now the RNC has cut its debt to $13 million. It has $20 million cash on hand, a net of $7 million. In contrast, the DNC has a debt of $6.5 million and $12.5 million cash on hand, a net of $6 million.
To cut spending, Priebus has reduced staff by 40 percent. When they can, staffers take the subway instead of taxis. The RNC press office canceled its Washington Post subscriptions, since everyone read the paper online anyway. Spending last year was $14.4 million, down from $44.7 million in 2009.
While Steele emphasized raising money from small donors, thereby increasing costs, Priebus pushes targeting big potential donors. Income from major donors last year was $24.3 million, compared with $3.2 million in 2009.
“In a matter of months, Reince Priebus . . . raised more major donor contributions than Michael Steele did in the two years that he was there,” says Mel Sembler, a prominent GOP fundraiser and former ambassador who co-chairs the RNC’s Finance Committee and has served as RNC finance chairman.
“Reince has done that by working very hard at it,” Sembler says. “He has been all around the country. He knows how to get on the phone. He knows how to go to events. He knows how to call people.”
“The major donor piece was the piece that we were most concerned about,” Priebus says. “In the previous two years combined, 2009 and 2010, the RNC only raised around $7 million total in two years in major donor money. We raised over $24 million in major donor money in one.”
Says Priebus, “We are making sure that we do everything we can to make sure that we make Barack Obama a one-term president so that we can save our country economically. That’s at the heart of everything that we do. In our little way, we can show the difference between running a lean organization and an Obama administration that is hell bent on every stimulus program on the face of the earth to cure all ills.”
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. Read more reports from Ronald Kessler -- Click Here Now
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