Longtime Alabama Democratic Party leader Joe Reed said Friday that it was too soon to assess Mark Kennedy’s time as chairman of the party, but criticized some of his expenditures and handling of personnel issues.
“His one thing – he had been a judge and judges are accustomed to giving orders. When you give it – that’s it,” said Reed, vice chairman of the party and head of the Alabama Democratic Conference. He said party building requires a team effort.
Reed praised Kennedy, who announced his resignation in a letter to the party’s executive committee on Friday morning, for traveling the state.
Reed said Kennedy did not submit the 2013 budget for the party to the executive committee in time and said, while Kennedy assumed control of a party with massive debt, that the party had accumulated an additional $100,000 in debt in 2012. He said the party now has more than $600,000 in debt.
“I am not going to apologize to no one on insisting on financial accountability and financial responsibility,” Reed said. “I’m not going to yield on that. I know how much time I give to the Democratic Party.”
Reed said there were multiple personnel issues, not just one publicly discussed at a recent meeting of the executive committee – a meeting where Reed and Kennedy sparred over control of the party. He criticized Kennedy for opening a Birmingham office and “bringing in new employees that the executive board knew nothing about” even though the party was in debt. The executive committee is supposed to approve job descriptions for new hires, he said, but said they did not approve the hires in Birmingham.
“I have no empathy or sympathy for anybody who wants to keep putting the party in debt and not paying the debt we got,” Reed said.
Reed said party vice chair Nancy Worley, former secretary of state, would become chair and would call a meeting to move forward with electing a new chair. He said he and Worley were not interested in being chair of the party.
“I don’t want to be chairman of the party. I think I’ve made that very clear … I have given the party more than anybody. Nobody living in Alabama can match the service I have given,” Reed said.
Reed said he found out about the resignation Friday morning and said he would take Kennedy at his word that he resigned because it was time to move on. He said he is fine with the resignation and is his first priority now is finding a good chairman for the party. Reed said his priorities for chairman would be someone interested in party building, not as a “launching pad” for office or personal gain, and someone who will work to retire the party’s debt. He said he does not have a candidate in mind and would not nominate a candidate.
“I’m prepared to work with anybody that wants to build the party,” Reed said.
Reed believes the party can be rebuilt, but said it would be tough.
“We can build one. But you can’t build one if you keep going in debt,” he said.
“We just have to keep pressing. I am prepared to keep working as long as I can.”
– posted by Sebastian Kitchen