Creative Bookkeeping And The Florida Democrats

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    Florida Democratic Party Faces IRS Lien; $900,000 Shortage

    POSTED: 4:55 pm EDT June 21, 2005

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Broke and without enough money in the bank to pay its bills after the end of the month, the Florida Democratic Party has now been slapped with a lien by the Internal Revenue Service for failing to pay payroll and Social Security taxes in 2003.

    The state party's budget and finance committee voted Tuesday to ask for a new audit to account for more than $900,000 it believes somehow disappeared from the books during the 2003-2004 calendar years when the party was led by Scott Maddox, who is now seeking its nomination for governor.

    Maddox and successor Karen Thurman, who became the party's new chairwoman just last month, did not immediately return phone messages asking for comment on the findings.

    While the party owes roughly $200,000 in delinquent payroll and Social Security taxes, the lien was against the remaining $98,000 in their account on Friday, longtime Leon County committeeman Jon Ausman said.

    Ausman said it cost about $250,000 a month to pay salaries and overhead for the party operation in Tallahassee and that it had been spending more so far this year than it has raised.

    The Democratic Party in Florida has traditionally gone through financial woes, selling its headquarters building in Florida a few years ago to get out of debt.

    State vice-chair Diane Glasser of Fort Lauderdale said Tuesday she was confident the party could be able to meet its commitments.

    "We've had these problems before," Glasser said. "I think that everything will resolve itself. Karen has already got commitments for money that is going to be coming into the party."

    Ausman, who is also a member of the party's budget and finance committee, said the party's 2003 year-end audit showed $609,032 cash on hand. He said it netted $586,986 in 2004 when it raised about $18 million.

    "I don't know how you start out with $609,000 and raise a net of $586,000 and end up with $269,000," he said.

    Ausman said he was concerned about the audits in 2003 and 2004 done by Carr, Riggs and Ingram of Tallahassee. He said they should be held accountable, certainly for the failure to pay the IRS, if the audit proved to be flawed.

    Mark Carr did not immediately return a phone message to his office about the audit.

    Last summer, a report filed in July by the party's executive committee to the Federal Election Commission showed it spent $120,000 more than it has taken the first six months of that year, including a $30,000 deficit for June. That report, however, included 2003 carry-over information that skewed the numbers and gave the appearance of far more red ink, Maddox said.

    The latest report comes at the front end of fund-raising efforts by candidates readying for the 2006 election cycle when the Democrats' lone statewide elected official, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, faces re-election and there will be no incumbent in the governor's race.

    "It's very important that we reassure our donor base and all the Democrats that we're on top of this situation," Ausman said.

    The state Republican Party, which operates with a larger staff at its Tallahassee headquarters, has raised close to $5 million already this year and has several million in the bank, a party source said Tuesday.

    http://www.local6.com/news/4635633/detail.html
     

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