The major national Democratic Party committees have spent the overwhelming majority of their dollars on white political consultants over the past two election cycles. That’s according to a report released Wednesday by PowerPAC+, a progressive group working to increase diversity among the nation’s elected officials.
The group examined the spending habits of the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee from 2009 to 2012. The key finding: the three national party committees have directed 98 percent of their campaign spending toward white consultants over that period.
PowerPAC+ identified 14 minority-owned or operated consulting firms contracted by the DNC, DSCC or DCCC over that period. Of that $514 million the three committees spent from 2009-2010, only $8.7 million went to those firms.
While the report noted the party has taken steps toward diversifying its pool of consultants, it concluded: “If People of Color are smart and talented enough that one of them can serve as leader of the free world, then they are certainly smart and talented enough to run political campaigns for Congress, Senate, and the White House. Making the structural changes necessary to assure cultural competence and effectiveness in campaigns is not just the right thing to do. It is what Democrats must do if they are going to cement a progressive, multi-racial majority for decades to come.”
In response to the report, DSCC Press Secretary Justin Barasky said the committee has “significantly expanded our outreach to diversify campaign staff and field operations in targeted states and look to continually improve on our diversity.”
Efforts to diversify the pool of consultants are also ongoing at the DCCC, according to communications director Emily Bittner, who noted the committee has hired its “first-ever Diversity Director and a national training director to share our job opportunities with diverse communities across the country, as well as worked with the CBC and CHC to identify minority-owned vendors.”
“The DNC is dedicated to making sure that our business practices reflect the diversity of our Party and our country,” said DNC National Press Secretary Mike Czin. “Working toward that goal is a part of everything we do from the staff we recruit, to the candidates we work with and our programs to train the next generation of leaders from diverse backgrounds.”
The lack of diversity in the offices of major political consulting firms—on both sides of the aisle—has been an issue in the consulting world for years. Steve Phillips, the founder of PowerPAC+, told NBC News the national party still needs a push toward diversifying the ranks of the consultants it employs, and that his group intends to keep applying the pressure.
This story was updated to include comment from the DNC.