Georgia Democratic party exec resigns; chairman denies financial crisis

Updated at 3:07 p.m. with new material below:

Original: The state Democratic party has problems.

On Saturday, the chief of staff of the party, Page Gleason, handed in her resignation. The letter announcing her decision included these lines:

I have dedicated my adult life to fighting for the Democratic Party and its ideals throughout the State of Georgia. The situation at the Democratic Party of Georgia, however, has made it impossible for me to continue serving effectively as your Executive Director.

…I strongly recommend that the Executive Committee and the By-laws Committee review the sections of the Democratic Party of Georgia by-laws…. A thoughtful review and additional wording would more clearly define the role each plays within the Party so that individuals who serve as State Chair, Executive Director, and members of the Executive Committee may effectively lead the Democratic Party of Georgia in the future.

Gleason’s resignation came a day after minutes of a wildcat meeting of the Democratic executive committee were circulated via e-mail. You may read the official minutes here.

Some attended last Wednesday’s meeting in person, at a local law firm. Others checked in by phone:

As calls came in, callers were asked to identify themselves. A number of callers hung up following this request. After several requests for identification, two callers were disconnected.

Attention was drawn to Russell Edwards, treasurer of the party:

Mr Edwards distributed a document showing cash balances for several months, beginning with February 2011, ending with February 22, 2012. A budget was not presented. He explained the dire financial situation of the organization. Upon review and discussion of the document it was generally agreed that the current financial approach was unsustainable.

Considering the current balances and previous revenue trends, funds are available for approximately 30 days of expenses. Discussion continued regarding monthly expenses, an explanation of the Call Center/Canvassing program, the lack of Executive Committee approval for new hires outside of standard budget, and other financial matters. Inquiries were made regarding hiring. Mr Edwards and Mr Hadley asked to limit discussion to specifics.

Ms Johnson and Mr Halpern urged candor considering the nature of the meeting. Further discussion continued concerning monthly expenses. The question was raised as to the employment of Tasso Knight (member of the Executive Committee) and the body agreed to table the discussion until those with direct knowledge of the hiring arrangements were present. It was noted by Mr Reilly, with agreement from the full body, that Mr Knight had served the party well for many years.

So we called Michael Berlon, chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia. Berlon acknowledged that, “unfortunately,” Gleason did indeed resign. But Berlon said her departure was the result of other opportunities, and had “nothing to do” with any questions about the party’s financial outlook.

Which Berlon said was tolerable. He denied that the party was 30 days away from insolvency. “If our treasurer had picked up the phone and called me, he would have learned we were solvent through the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner,” Berlon said. That’s in May.

Berlon said he had not talked to the party’s state treasurer in 14 months. Yes, in 14 months. If that sounds questionable, Berlon explains that the state treasurer really isn’t in charge of the party’s books. That duty is privatized, to an outfit called Political CFOs. The responsibility of the state party treasurer is to make sure that financial statements are reported to the proper authorities on time, he said.

Berlon acknowledges that Knight, political director of the state AFL-CIO, has received reimbursements as a lobbyist for Demcrats at the state Capitol – which apparently has emerged as an issue.

Berlon has been pre-occupied. He wasn’t able to attend the Wednesday meeting of the executive committee. And, over the weekend, he fell off of a ladder, probably separating his shoulder. He may have broken his left arm. (He’s right-handed.)

Previous to a conversation with Berlon, Democratic party spokesman Eric Gray couldn’t provide specifics, but acknowledged the financial pressure that his party was under.

“We all knew that it was a challenge when we didn’t have a statewide officer. Fundraising has not been easy,” Gray said.

New material: This afternoon, Russell Edwards, treasurer of the party, sent out a note that included these paragraphs:

First, it is false that Chair Berlon and I have not communicated in 14 months. The Chair and I, in fact, have traded many emails, communicated by phone, and have also communicated at official meetings where many of you all have seen us seated at the same table.

With regards to the current state of the DPG’s finances, it is true that the DPG currently spends more than it raises. This unsustainable situation should raise red flags since the DPG’s current cash on hand is $37,230.15, not counting the Senate and House Caucus accounts.

– The DPG must meet semi-monthly payroll this Friday of approximately $28,000.00.

– The due date of the DPG Visa credit card is tomorrow in the amount of $2,110.00.

– The due date of the DPG United Healthcare expense is Wednesday in the amount of $1,414.22.

–The DPG also has a bill due to Political CFOs [a bookkeeping firm] this Wednesday of roughly $3,750.00.

– Next week, the DPG has a rent payment due for its headquarters of approximately $5,500.00.

The above expenses amount to $40,774.22.

All of this information has been verified by our accounting firm, Political CFOs.

My forthcoming semi-annual treasurer’s report will shed more light. At last week’s Executive Committee meeting, I pointed out the situation with balance sheets produced by the DPG’s accounting software that I thereafter collected from the attendees considering the sensitive nature of the situation. I have daily access to this system and have been accessing it regularly throughout my tenure as treasurer.

That being said, it’s not as if the present situation cannot change. We have an upcoming Jefferson Jackson dinner for which we have received pledges.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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238 comments Add your comment

Bill Orvis White

February 26th, 2012
10:48 pm

The Socialist-Democrat Party of Georgia is insolvent. Surprise, surprise. This is a a collection of true useful idiots who have failed records and an even dimmer future. I pray that Georgia’s Socialist-Democrats totally collapse and just get out of the business altogether and let the Republicans be in charge of everything. Also, the city government of Atlanta needs to dissolve as well. It has always been corrupt since Maynard Jackson took it over. Amen, Bill

loose ends

February 26th, 2012
10:56 pm

B.O.W.–the dems are no more socialist than repubs. quit with the fox news slogans.
Sounds like Gleason doesn’t approve how business is run over there. I can’t blame her. Sounds like a lack of fiscal oversight if it’s been 14 months since the party chair and the state treasurer.

Sonny LIED!

February 26th, 2012
10:59 pm

The Democratic party in Georgia went to the crapper because of their over zealous desire to change the state flag back in 2001. Its been downhill ever since for them. That is a FACT and they need to face it. I think its funny as snot. Ole Roy Barnes and his heritage hating buddies destroyed the democratic party in Georgia for decades if not longer over that piece of cloth.

loose ends

February 26th, 2012
11:02 pm

Sonny Lied!…they were infavor of changing the flag so that the state wouldn’t be blackballed from future business conventions. It was $$$ not cloth. Same reason Ole Miss changed up on their mascot. You guys lost the war–remember?

Angry Dem

February 26th, 2012
11:03 pm

Bring back Jane Kidd.

td

February 26th, 2012
11:03 pm

Looks like the Dems are running the state party the same way that Obama is running the Federal Government. Money means nothing to Dems.

loose ends

February 26th, 2012
11:04 pm

Sonny lied!…by the way, Sonny didn’t lie. The Bush administration told him to let the flag thing go.

loose ends

February 26th, 2012
11:07 pm

td what policies would you rather be put in place? what do you have in mind to have the dow over 13,000?

td

February 26th, 2012
11:08 pm

Sonny LIED!

February 26th, 2012
10:59 pm

The state had been shifting from Democrats to Republicans for years before the state flag change. The national party had already shifted way to the left and the majority of Dems in this state were still conservative both socially and fiscally. Zell MIller said it best for most Dems in the state: “I did not leave the Democratic party, it left me”.

Al Gore

February 26th, 2012
11:10 pm

Don’t change the subject, back to the flag debate!

loose ends

February 26th, 2012
11:11 pm

zell was an anrgy man in the end. don’t know what he was upset about. both parties operate center–right in many dealings.

td

February 26th, 2012
11:11 pm

loose ends

February 26th, 2012
11:07 pm

td what policies would you rather be put in place? what do you have in mind to have the dow over 13,000?

When the DOW is so high on the backs of our children, grandchildren and gas prices are soaring due to both the Obama led Fed policy and energy policy then I do not see to many things going in the right direction. Also, I am sure those 2 million people that had jobs when Bush left office and do not now do not care about the DOW.

loose ends

February 26th, 2012
11:12 pm

Al Gore…thanks again for inventing the internet. without you tonights debate would not be possible.

loose ends

February 26th, 2012
11:14 pm

td I didn’t hear a peep from you when the Bush admin had us paying $4.25 gal. What policied were in place back then that got the prices over $4??

Bobby Kahn

February 26th, 2012
11:18 pm

In the month of January, the Georgia Democratic Party raised $71,595.99, but $27,789.98 of that money came from the Democratic National Committee.

The Party owes $26,119.17 to its debtors.

Do you miss me yet?

td

February 26th, 2012
11:19 pm

loose ends

February 26th, 2012
11:14 pm

Bush opened up everything to drilling and prices dropped to $1.83 per gallon by the time he left office. Obama dropped all the Bush’s executive orders, created more regulation and closed the gulf and now look at the results.

UGA75

February 26th, 2012
11:21 pm

TD thats okay bury your head in the ground about the Flag Change. Roy had the largest campaign war chest in GA history, Sonny had roughly 1/10 of that amount. Yet all over GA Sonny signs outnumbered Roy’s by about 10-1, outside Atlanta anyway. The State was trending Republican, but Roy changing the Flag sure hurried the transition. Sonny did lie, but it was the money he got not anything Bush said or did. The Flag is gone but not forgotten, nor are the memories of the noble ancestors who fought and died for a version of it.

td

February 26th, 2012
11:26 pm

UGA75

February 26th, 2012
11:21 pm

Do not get me wrong. I thought Roy was a horrible governor and needed to go. There was really three reasons Roy lost and the state turned red faster.

1: The Georgia flag.

2: Roy taking tenure away from the teachers. (that one cost him more then 200,000 regular Democratic votes)

3: Roy said in the debate with Sonny that no matter what the state did children would still die. At that time I worked for DFCS and can personally that many Democratic social service workers declared they would vote for anyone to get him out of office.

Reagan 4ever

February 26th, 2012
11:26 pm

I can’t down the Dems. The Republican Party was hi-jacked years ago. Panderingly foolish candidates, the Tea Party, Fox News, and Koch Brothers have absolutely ruined what was once a proud organization.

Jade

February 26th, 2012
11:28 pm

For the love of God, do not bring back Kidd. I’d rather the party be broke.

Jane

February 26th, 2012
11:28 pm

Could not have happend to a nicer group of people.

loose ends

February 26th, 2012
11:28 pm

UGA75…the arc was the straw that broke Roy Barnes. There were people who are and were proud of their “noble ancestors” but there were many who shed no tears when the old version was replaced.

loose ends

February 26th, 2012
11:31 pm

td…you’re right the teachers were pi$$ed back then. I believe he set fire to already many hoops they had to jump through.

BigGulpsHuh

February 26th, 2012
11:31 pm

Sounds like they don’t know who’s in charge of what and no one’s keeping track of money or fundraising to bring in more money.

loose ends

February 26th, 2012
11:33 pm

Reagan 4ever…what happened to the tea party? I had high hopes for them at the beginning. Then they morphed into a hate mob with no real cohesive leadership. They have become a couple of steps up from the “Occupy” folks.

Cut it with "the grandchildren"

February 26th, 2012
11:34 pm

td, I’m fed up with hearing about our economy will effect your children and grandchildren. Do you think your grandfather was concerned how big the deficit will be, so you can pay it today? I think not. It’s a silly platform to campaign from, with no legs to stand on. Keep in mind, we had a surplus in the past (when Clinton was in office). We will have a surplus again.

concerned chair

February 26th, 2012
11:37 pm

loose ends

February 26th, 2012
11:39 pm

cut it with the grandchildren…pay no attention to td. it’s what Rush and Hannity say everyday, so td repeats it here to sound knowledgable. in the end the entertainers, Rush and Hannity, will make millions off td and his grandchildren won’t see that money either!!
yes we had a $5.7 trillion surplus I do believe.

call DC

February 26th, 2012
11:44 pm

the democrat party need to call obama’s people in DC for a bailout–they got plenty of money from all these galas they are holding at rich people’s mansions. Just get a few million for now to pay expenses.

Mike Berlon

February 26th, 2012
11:49 pm

call DC,

The Georgia Democratic Party got a $27K cash infusion from Obama and the DNC.

I pissed it away so fast though that we need even more money.

honested

February 26th, 2012
11:57 pm

Gad.
A small spat essentially over fundraising goals and the stupid gone and soon forgotten flag gets dredged up!
The dixicrat/rethuglican league has been in charge for nearly ten years with each year worse than the last and the best people can come up with is the stupid flag!! (and of course td following his/her/its faux talking points list about gas prices).

Georgia Democrats, before you go to the polls on super Tuesday to vote for the biggest loser in GA history (newt gingrich), take a moment and send a 50.00 check to the only chance you have to bring our state back into the 21st century.

Certainly you can see what the clowns currently in charge have in mind for the next few years.

honested

February 26th, 2012
11:59 pm

As for the ‘noble ancestors’, they’re dead and they died fighting for a stupid lost cause.

Can we once and for all bury that millstone?

Mike Berlon

February 27th, 2012
12:07 am

honested is right!

Georgia Democrats, I beg of you, send more money for me to piss away as your State Party Chairman.

[...] So this happened. [...]

Richard

February 27th, 2012
12:53 am

Gleason, really does nothing anyway but play on blackberry, travel,drink and party.She, just a mirror of wha tthe State Party does.

kreedham

February 27th, 2012
12:54 am

Sure we’re in the minority but Berlon is working hard to bring the party back. I’m more informed now about what’s going on with the party than ever. Keep at it Mike. One of these days the folks that keep sending these nuts to the state legislature will catch on….our state house is awful. If you’re going to keep voting Republican at least send Atlanta some new ones!

Mel in Midtown

February 27th, 2012
12:55 am

The “heritage flaggers” are too dumb to realize that the current state flag is a copy of the Confederate First National flag. These idiots know nothing about “history” or “heritage.” If they did, they’d know that the “stars and bars” was not the only Confederate flag. Their “heritage” is very thinly veiled racism.

Mike Berlon

February 27th, 2012
1:03 am

kreedham,

I am working hard to spend all the Party’s money. Thanks for the vote of confidence. I will keep at it.

MD

February 27th, 2012
1:14 am

what did you expect a fiscally responsible democrat.

Mark

February 27th, 2012
1:27 am

My goodness. Bashing the democrats, what about good ole Sonny! Go Fish, tax exempt land sales, and his child-like pay backs to those who didn’t agree with him. The only govenor, who ever made money while in office. He served Georgia in his best interest, not his constituents. Deal, so far has been impressive!

Tom Smith

February 27th, 2012
2:20 am

They’re almost broke? Looks like a complete flop by the Treasurer, the bumbling dildo: Russell Edwards.

BlueGeorgia

February 27th, 2012
2:55 am

Mike Berlon is the only one to blame. He’s run the party into the ground, spends money like water, doesn’t have a clue how to fund raise, and has a bunch of cronies on the payroll. He’s a compulsive liar and a bully. He needs to resign now.

George Hills

February 27th, 2012
3:23 am

The Democrats aren’t the pressing concern. It’s the rats gnawing at your rights in the dark.

Mr. Gingrich helped pass the 1996 misdemeanor gun ban in Congress, hiding it in a 750-page last-minute budget bill. Many people in his district stayed mad until he quit in 1998. Only a fool would vote for him now.

GGranfatherfoughtforSouth

February 27th, 2012
3:53 am

Ignore the flag boobs. Unfortunately no matter where you go in the USA there will be unthinking, reactionary, low IQ, crétins. I’ve met my share in the North. The Stars & Bars was a battle flag, not the CSA national flag. Though my great great grandfather was in the Army of Northern Virginia, I’d rather not have part of our heritage waving in the wind to remind everyone that the South allowed the enslavement of millions of people, lost the war, and treated citizens like crap. Our heritage is much more than that.

Keep doing this GOP

February 27th, 2012
4:10 am

We’ve had unemployment in this state higher than the national average since July 2007. We’ve had one speaker of the house resign in dishonor because of an affair with a lobbyist and another speaker accept a trip to Europe for 17,000 dollars and yet the Repubs can’t understand we need Eithics reform. This state was dead last in job creation last year which makes you wonder about the 4 billion dollars that we have stripped from the Dept. of Education since 2003. Their answer to the crisis involving the HOPE scholorship is to make it harder for students to get and to cut pre-k.

And lets see what we get in this session. Another attack on the unemployed by the Repubs, another attack on public education, more bills about guns and abortion and yet none about job creation.

Yeah, go ahead and vote Republican and keep this state in a mess for years to come.

ZIN

February 27th, 2012
4:38 am

Would someone ask Sonny Perdue for the $19 Million back we taxpayers gave to build.. that FAILED FISH CAMP. Seems these republicans just can’t stop spending the taxpayers money on stupid stuff like this stupid FISH CAMP, I thought republicans were conservative.

Mister.Earl

February 27th, 2012
4:42 am

The Telegraph of Macon reports (http://bit.ly/Ai1cPL) the center drew only 15,000 visitors in its first 12 months of operation. That’s far below the 100,000 tourists projected to visit when the center opened in October 2010.

The dismal turnout gives more ammunition to critics of then-Gov. Sonny Perdue, who supported spending $19 million on the center and statewide boat ramp construction during a budget crisis that included furloughs and layoffs of state employees.

Perdue pitched Go Fish as an effort to encourage fishing tourism and boost Georgia’s economy. Supporters of the center say a new marketing campaign and improved attractions could draw more visitors.

Attack Dog

February 27th, 2012
5:26 am

1, The GADP don’t need as much money for campaigning. The GOP debates and Dixiecrat policy stances are enough. 2. Just think Barnes has been out of office nine-years. His thoughts about teacher accountabilty-True, the flag-True, In-mass anti-democrat social workers-False.Georgians voting against their own interests-True!

Hussein

February 27th, 2012
5:44 am

This is priceless…the democrat party is broke financially and has no viable ideas beyond the politics of division, but yet the Kool*Aide drinkers look to blame FOXNews, Rush, Hannity, GWB, Sonny, the Koch brothers…REALLY?

The democrat party’s only idea is to regain power. Other than that they have no ideas. Thank God they are out of power in Georgia. Looking forward to the same result nationally.

sheepdawg

February 27th, 2012
5:53 am

This state is so irrelevant in the national and world scheme- redneck ignorant isolationism.