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‘Inevitable they’ll go broke’: The AZGOP’s financial situation gets worse


‘Inevitable they’ll go broke’: The AZGOP’s financial situation gets worse

Sep 15, 2023 | 11:00 am ET
By Jim Small
‘Inevitable they’ll go broke’: The AZGOP’s financial situation gets worse
Image via Getty Images

When Jeff DeWit took the reins of the Arizona Republican Party in January, the party had more than $152,000 in its federal campaign account. Seven months later, the AZGOP has burned through more than 90% of those cash reserves and doesn’t have enough money to pay its bills.

The party’s most recent federal campaign finance report shows just how dire the situation is for Republicans heading into a monumentally important 2024 election year, during which the AZGOP will be overseeing efforts to win the presidency, capture a U.S. Senate seat and maintain control of the Legislature. 

At the end of August, the party had just $14,800 left in the bank. During that month, the party spent nearly $89,000 — more than twice the roughly $44,000 in revenues it reported. But the AZGOP only paid about $57,000 of those bills, and took on almost $32,000 in debt

That is sparking concern for some Republicans, who fear the party is now on an unsustainable path.

“If this keeps up, it’s inevitable they’ll go broke,” said Chris Baker, a Scottsdale-based political consultant whose clients include U.S. Rep. David Schweikert.

A spokeswoman for the Arizona Republican Party did not return a request for comment.

Because of campaign finance laws, the parties must operate separate accounts for money spent to help elect federal candidates and funds used to bolster state and local hopefuls. The federal campaign account is the lifeblood of any political party, and rules require that its funds be used to pay for all party employees. Costs for staff and other administrative functions are often split with the state account, but a bankrupt federal account would mean the AZGOP cannot pay its employees.

The August fundraising figures are dismal for the Arizona Republican Party: It only raised $18,321 in contributions from individuals, and the remaining $26,000 or so in revenues was a transfer from the AZGOP’s state campaign finance account. 

The figures are a sharp drop from poor fundraising in July, when the party raised less than $24,000 from individual donors and ended the month with only $28,000 on hand.

Baker noted that there were no large donors to the AZGOP in August, and the largest contribution was $500, which came from a construction executive in Wisconsin. 

That the party isn’t even taking in enough money to cover its monthly bills is concerning enough, Baker said, but that’s amplified by the fact that the Arizona Republican Party in June took out a mortgage to purchase an entire floor of a midtown Phoenix office building for its new headquarters. 

DeWit won a contested election for chairman of the party when its members chose new leaders in late January. A key component of his campaign was a pledge to “drastically improve fundraising” over his predecessor, Kelli Ward. 

DeWit was a top staffer for Donald Trump’s 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns — he was the chief finance and chief operating officer in 2016, and chief operating officer in 2020 — and he positioned himself as the only candidate who would be able to raise the money the AZGOP would need to be effective in 2024. He boasted that he oversaw “over $1 billion in campaign fundraising” for Trump, which would serve him well helming the state party.

“I want to bring this expertise to Arizona to give us a fundraising, ground game, candidate recruitment, media training, and organizational leadership advantage over the Democrats,” he wrote in one campaign pitch.

Baker said it’s critical for Republicans in Arizona to have a healthy and effective state party, something that it won’t have if DeWit doesn’t turn this fundraising trajectory around quickly.

“If I was Jeff DeWit, my only priority going forward would be to engage in donor outreach and make the case — publicly and privately — that this is a new regime, and we’re going to be laser-focused on electing Republicans,” he said.