The South Dakota Democratic Party will be closing the doors at both of its offices due to financial troubles, leaving the state with no Democratic Party offices.
The state party will be closing offices in Sioux Falls and Rapid City at the end of September, the Argus Leader reported. No layoffs for party staff have been announced, and employees will begin working remotely due to the party’s budget problems, according to state party Chairwoman Paula Hawks.
Hawks told the Argus Leader the party is setting fundraising goals and meeting with party donors and Founders Club members.
"We are feeling very optimistic that we will be moving forward with strength and financial stability," she said.
But she added that the party’s funding problems are due to “extreme mismanagement and lack of oversight.” Rent for the offices was the party’s biggest operating expense, and Hawks wrote to party leadership in a Thursday email that they were making "some difficult decisions to ensure we get back on track.”
The South Dakota Democratic Party started the month of July with $31,267 in the bank and ended it with $3,181, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings, the Argus Leader reported. The party had $88,127 on hand at the beginning of the year, and it receives at least $10,000 from the Democratic National Party.
The state party's July expenses reportedly included $2,400 on rent and $14,000 on salaries, according to the FEC.
South Dakota Republican Party Chairman Dan Lederman blasted the SDDP for the financial problems coming as a “shock” to them, blaming Democratic Treasurer Bill Nibbelink, who has held the position since 2000.
"Chairwoman Hawks is doing her best to try to shift the blame for her party's finances and misreporting to the Federal Elections Commission, but maybe should have spoken to her own leadership team first," Lederman told the Argus Leader.
The news comes after a draft audit by the FEC found that the party understated disbursements by $2.5 million, received nearly $24,000 in impermissible contributions and failed to disclose debts and obligations totaling nearly $47,000 during the 2015-2016 campaign cycle.