Opinion

Palm Beach County GOP runs out of money, staff laid off

Ira Sabin
Ira Sabin, Chairman of the Republican Party of Palm Beach County, said the party is “downsizing.”

Cash-strapped and crippled by poor fundraising efforts, the Republican Party of Palm Beach County has closed its West Palm Beach office and laid off its two full-time employees, Political Director Mark Hoch and Executive Director Cathy Brandenburg, party Chairman Ira Sabin confirmed Sunday to BizPac Review.

“We’re downsizing,” Sabin said.

After serving as treasurer of the county party for two years, Sabin was narrowly elected chairman in a close race six months ago.

Now, the Republican Party of Palm Beach County is out of money.

Sabin has been plagued by controversy since taking the reins from former 10-year Chairman Sid Dinerstein.

Rumors have circulated for months that Sabin’s abrasive personality had alienated the party’s major long-time donors. Now, those donors have stopped giving, and the party has no income to pay its monthly expenses, a source within the party told BizPac Review.

Evidence of the local GOP’s fundraising inexperience began early this year, when at the height of planning the annual, all-important Lincoln Day Dinner, Sabin abruptly fired then-Executive Director Susanna Barasch and replaced her with Brandenburg.

Multiple sources told BizPac Review the long-standing practice of selling Lincoln Day tickets by the table to bigger donors was pretty much ignored this year, helping to explain why the local party made little money at its biggest fundraiser.

Other signs of fiscal ineptitude included the surprise cancellation of the party’s annual golf tournament, and to date, there has been no word on when the ever-popular Lobsterfest will be held.

These events have been solid moneymakers for the Republican Party of Palm Beach County for decades.

According to insiders, the party has hired two fundraisers who will begin work immediately on a commission basis to find ways to bring income to the cash-strapped organization.

Since there’s no money to pay its staff, calls to party headquarters are answered by a recorded message from Sabin that stings with irony: “No one is available.”

Scary words to hear with an election year approaching in 2014.

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