The Minnesota Republican Party, struggling with financial problems in recent months, is now facing eviction from its headquarters. Though for the moment, the party is assuring the public that it will be able to negotiate a settlement without being thrown out.
Last year, the party replaced its previous chairman Tony Sutton due to mounting debt of nearly $2 million — including over $700,000 from the 2010 gubernatorial recount, which most observers thought the party never had any significant chance of winning — bringing in the new chairman Pat Shortridge to clean up. As Politics in Minnesota now reports, the party sent a notice to activists late last week, informing them of a new problem.
“When I was elected on December 31, 2011, the rent had not been paid since August 2011 and as part of our continuing financial issues and our effort to re-negotiate the lease, no lease payments have been made in 2012 to date,” Shortridge wrote in the letter.
“Rather than continue discussions with us, the landlord chose to exercise its rights and filed a notice of eviction in Ramsey County court. We’re not going to be evicted, and at the same time, are continuing to negotiate on the back payments as well as on a lease that better fits both our space needs and our budget.”
The report from Politics in Minnesota shows that according to paperwork filed in Ramsey County court, the GOP owes the firm Hub Properties Trust over $96,000. The eviction hearing is scheduled for May 1, in Ramsey County Housing Conciliation court.
TPM asked the state GOP for comment on the possible eviction, and received this statement in return:
“Last Thursday, I sent the below update on party finances to local and statewide GOP leaders. In light of an exaggerated press story in a publication this morning, we wanted to make sure you were aware of it. The MNGOP is not being ‘kicked out’ of its offices. While we have successfully negotiated with our creditors in most cases, our landlord took the unfortunate step, which they are certainly within their rights to do, of bringing the matter to court. We believe we’re on track to settle this matter without further legal action, and we’ll know for sure in the coming days.”
Below is the information that was sent to BPOU leaders last Thursday:
In light of recent press stories, I wanted to give you an update on where we are in the process of straightening out the Party’s finances. Here’s what we’ve done:
• First and foremost, we’ve amended our Federal Election Commission (2011) and Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board reports for 2011 and 2010.
• The Financial Control and Oversight Committee, chaired very, very ably by Jeff Johnson, has looked into many of the questionable transactions from the past and will present a series of recommendations to significantly improve our processes, internal financial controls and oversight.
• We’ve continued to cut expenses, while continuing the process of restoring trust with our major donors and rebuilding our small dollar donor programs. Fundraising is improving and we’re getting things done on a shoestring. You should be VERY proud of the party staff and our many key volunteers for going above and beyond the call to get things done.
• We have negotiated with our creditors so we engage in an orderly process for paying down our debt. In 95% of the cases, that process has gone smoothly. In a couple of cases, it has not gone as well as we’d hoped despite the best efforts of Mike Vekich, Bron Scherer, and me. One in particular that I wanted to tell you about is our negotiation with our landlord.
We have a long and very expensive lease which still has twenty-one (21) months to run. As you know, we have more space than we need and our monthly lease cost is in excess of current, comparable market lease rates. When I was elected on December 31, 2011, the rent had not been paid since August 2011 and as part of our continuing financial issues and our effort to re-negotiate the lease, no lease payments have been made in 2012 to date.
Rather than continue discussions with us, the landlord chose to exercise its rights and filed a notice of eviction in Ramsey County court. We’re not going to be evicted, and at the same time, are continuing to negotiate on the back payments as well as on a lease that better fits both our space needs and our budget.
While this is a situation none of us wants, it’s part of the rebuilding process. No one ever said it would be simple or easy or without bumps along the way. But I wanted you to hear about it from me rather than from any other source.
• The bottom line: We’re in better shape than we were three months ago, but not as good as we’ll be three months from now. It’s a daily process that requires hard work and common purpose.
Please let me know if you have additional thoughts or questions. I’ll see you in St Cloud, if not before.
Pat Shortridge, Chairman
Republican Party of Minnesota