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The Democratic Party is shockingly bad at hiring minority businesses

Why don't the people getting the party's contracts look like this?
Why don't the people getting the party's contracts look like this?
Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty

Democratic Party voters are racially diverse. But the party's upper echelons don't always represent that. And neither do the people getting the party's hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign contracts.

democratic MBEs


Those charts come from PowerPAC+, which works to support minority candidates and which put out a report in 2014 challenging contracting practices in the three major Democratic campaign organizations: the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The report found that out of the $514 million the three groups awarded to contractors over those cycles, only 1.7 percent went to firms that had at least one owner or principal who was black, Latino/a, Asian American, Pacific Islander, or Native American. (By contrast, as you can see above, 44 percent of the Democratic electorate in 2012 came from those groups.)

Here's the alarming part, though: Democrats are promoting minority-owned contractors on their own website, and then not awarding them any contracts. From the PowerPAC+ report (emphasis added):

The Democratic National Committee provides an opportunity for MBE (Minority Business Enterprise) firms to submit requests to be considered for contracts via its website, Under its Supplier Diversity List link, the Party states that, "The DNC is committed to diversity in the vendors and contractors we use, and we encourage minority-owned businesses—including those owned by women, veterans, and members of the LGBT community—to register for contract consideration." On that same link it also provides a list of 28 MBE firms that it has already vetted. Of these, we were only able to identify two that received contracts in either the 2010 or 2012 cycle.

That paragraph makes it clear that Democrats aren't dealing with a pipeline problem. They're not having any problem finding minority-owned contractors. They're simply not awarding contracts to the contractors in their own directory.

As Politico reports, African-American and Latino power players, including members of Congress, are beginning to demand a change. The new head of the DCCC, Ben Ray Luján, has been critical of the party for not supporting Latino contractors in the past; according to Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) of the Congressional Black Caucus, Luján is promising that they'll be "surprised at the involvement" of minority-owned businesses in the party's 2016 contracts.

It looks like there's one easy place to start: awarding contracts to the businesses on the party's own website.