Florida Democratic Party Looking for "Misplaced" 900K

To find out why nearly $1 million is missing from party bank accounts, the IRS is also demanding more than 200 grand in back taxes and fees.

The question now is how all of this is going to affect former chairman Scott Maddox’s bid for governor. At the Florida Democratic Party’s rented headquarters, newly elected chair Karen Thurman is trying to sort through a million dollar mess. She wants to reassure the party faithful she’ll do what it takes to get the books in order.

Karen Thurman says, “I think people understand that this didn’t happen while I was here, and we are trying to make good on what should have happened, and that it is going to happen.”

The feds froze the party’s bank account for $200,000 in back taxes and fees, and another $900,000 is unaccounted for. Thurman is pledging to pay the IRS and bring in accountants to go through the books and look for the $900,000 and any other irregularities.

The big question now is how the financial flap will affect the campaign of former party chairman Scott Maddox, who resigned in March to run for governor.

His campaign says Maddox was unavailable to talk about the money mess. Political consultant Steve Macnamara doesn’t think it will hurt him in 2006 because voters probably will have forgotten any connection by the time election day comes, but it could have serious fundraising consequences.

Steve says, "It’s very difficult to go out there and convince people that it’s a party that’s worth investing in when they’re already starting in debt."

The Florida Republican Party declined our request for an interview about the democrats’ money woes. No one there wants to look like they’re gloating. They did, however, raise $3 million in the first three months of this year.

With only one statewide office in the hands of a Democrat, the party will be facing an uphill battle in 2006 even if it does get out of the red.

State Democratic Party chair Karen Thurman spoke to the IRS by phone Wednesday afternoon and pledged to make good on the back taxes and fees, but hopes to negotiate any penalties for the late payment.

Thurman says she could have independent auditors in as soon as this weekend to start combing through the party’s books to see if the other $900,000 in question is missing or not.