As the 2014 midterm results poured in, Democrats found themselves in a hard place. Having lost majorities in Congress, gubernatorial mansions, and even local city councils, no one would question that Democrats were in for a tough fight back, and none with a more shocking fight than the Collin County Democratic Party.
The new Finance Committee chaired by Treasurer Bob Button discovered that the Democratic Party in Collin County was in the midst of a little-known but massive financial crisis. The party was behind on rent payments, locked out of bank accounts, and in arrears to the Collin County Elections Department and IRS. As the team tried to unravel various balance sheets, they uncovered more and more debt until they reached the bottom line: the Collin County Democratic Party was over $55,000 in arrears and debt due to previous leadership.
After identifying the problems and developing a plan for a budget, newly elected County Chair Mike Rawlins and the Finance Committee negotiated a payment plan with the landlord on the four months of unpaid rent and worked to become current on other bills—a storage space that was six months behind in payments, utilities that were two months behind, and fees owed to an attorney, to name a few. They addressed the immediate concerns of keeping the party office open and with the lights on and then turned their sights to settling accounts and disposing of the considerable remaining debt. A significant portion of the unpaid bills was cleared after the new leadership team gained control of the bank accounts and paid most of the amount still due to Collin County Elections for the 2012 Democratic Primary. In addition, Chair Rawlins and a previous individual lender graciously agreed to carry the remainder of the party’s debt until fundraising efforts allowed for repayment.
By the beginning of 2015, the tireless efforts of the County Executive Committee and other volunteers had reduced the overall party debt by half. Revitalized fundraising, combined with Rawlins’ and Button’s skill at negotiating with debt collectors and prioritizing repayment, saw the party on the path back to financial solvency. By the beginning of 2016, the party was back in good standing with the IRS and had a little over $13,000 to pay back.
That’s right. The current leadership, in a year and a half, managed to keep the party afloat and pay back over $40,000. And in fall of 2017, the Collin County Democratic Party became debt free – all debts were repaid. Very often, people see little of the huge scale of issues a group of dedicated volunteers must negotiate to keep fighting the good fight in Collin County, often to their own financial risk.
We hope you are all very proud to be a part of this comeback story and to be a part of the incredible work the Collin County Democratic Party builds on year after year to affect change here. This has been a year of heartbreak but also of a renewed sense of dedication for Democrats new and old. This has been a year of change and struggle for everyone who champions decency toward immigrants, the poor, women, and minorities. However, it has also been a year of quiet, continuous stability and growth for the Collin County Democratic Party. Cheers to you all, and glad to have you in the #Resistance!
By Scott Riggle and Stacey Donald of the Communications Team, with assistance from David Smith