Doors could close at historic NC Dem HQ
Posted March 9, 2014
Updated March 10, 2014
Greensboro, N.C. — State Democratic Party leaders attending a meeting in Greensboro on Sunday were told the party might move out of its iconic Raleigh headquarters, the Goodwin House, due to anemic fundraising.
An Executive Council member who attended the meeting said embattled party Chairman Randy Voller told members the party is "broke," with only $60,000 in the bank.
According to the attendee, Voller told party members he may have to let some staffers go, and is even evaluating whether the party should continue to operate out of the Goodwin House, a historic house from 1903 on Hillsborough Street in downtown Raleigh.
Party communications director Marjorie Fields Harris confirmed the $60,000 figure but said Voller neither predicted layoffs nor used the term "broke," instead saying only that the party funding is "below budgeted staffing levels."
Harris also confirmed that Voller had discussed whether the party should keep or sell the Goodwin House.
"The party is always evaluating its options. The Goodwin House is a tremendous asset for the Democratic Party," Voller said in a statement via Harris. "However, it may not be the optimal building from which to organize and win campaigns. Even the Wake County Democratic Party is evaluating options, because during an election season, you must have resources such as good parking and work space from which volunteers may operate."
Party insiders say it's not the first time leaders have considered selling the historic house. But so far, that's been avoided.
"Thanks to the financial support of many fine people, we paid off the mortgage on the Goodwin House when I was state chair, eliminating all debt," former Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Meek said in a statement. "So, if the building is sold, it's not because the party can't pay the mortgage."
Voller also pledged $5,000 to the party's operating fund, despite owing more than $225,000 to the federal government for several years of unpaid taxes.
Harris said the two aren't at odds.
"This pledge excited the party, and people stepped up to the challenge," Harris said. "The chairman has paid off his debt to the State of North Carolina and is continuing to pay off his federal tax debt in a prompt manner. All of his other taxes are paid. He takes these matters seriously and intends to pay them off."
The party has been in dire financial straits since Voller's election as chairman. In spring 2013, Jamie Kirk Hahn, a vital Democratic fundraiser, was killed, and Voller fired the party's other major fundraiser, Ellen Stankiewicz.
Stankiewicz's replacement, fundraiser Tiffany Reynolds-Richardson, resigned the day after Voller fired former Executive DIrector Robert Dempsey in February.