The Republican Party of Minnesota is moving into the 2012 election cycle without executive director Ryan Griffin. A look at the MNGOP’s proposed 2012 budget shows that the party is earmarking $90,000 in salaries for the executive department. An addendum to the budget plan says the budget figure “represents the State Chair only” (who is Tony Sutton).
A person with knowledge of the party’s budget process says Griffin is currently working for the party but is not planning on being with the party after January 1. MPR News agreed to withhold the identity of the source. The source is not authorized to speak on budget and personnel matters.
Initially the party’s spokeswoman, Heather Rubash, confirmed Griffin’s eventual departure but referred further questions to MNGOP Chair Tony Sutton. Sutton did not return calls but issued a statement on Twitter contradicting MPR’s initial report that Griffin will not remain with the party. Another spokesman for the party, Craig Westover, would only say that Griffin is still on the party payroll and wouldn’t comment further.
In his budget release to GOP activists today, Chair Tony Sutton did acknowledge that fewer staff members would be working for the party.
“As such we propose that in 2012 the focus of the State Party be on activities that provide the most value for the dollars spent and that is voter contact programs (voter ID; sample ballots, absentee ballots etc.). This will mean less staff (and lower overhead) with the savings going towards those key voter contact programs. It will also mean that we will truly need to live up to our principles of being a grassroots party and local party units will need to implement Party programs with fewer Party staff,” Sutton’s e-mail to party activists said.
Today’s developments come as the party tries to get itself out of debt. The most recent campaign fundraising report shows the party being more than $500,000 in debt.
Sutton, who announced earlier this year that he would start taking a salary as party chair, blamed part of the party’s fundraising problems on cuts to the state’s Political Contribution Refund. Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty unilaterally cut funding for the program in 2009.
Sutton said in his e-mail to activists that small donors were giving an average of $60 per donation before the cut to the PCR and the economic downturn. Now he said the average donation is $28.
In his e-mail to activists, Sutton remained confident that the party would eventually get out of debt. It’s listed as one of his key objectives for 2012.
“The Party will pay off its bills from the successful 2010 elections and will end 2012 with no debt,” Sutton wrote.