The Democratic Party may have ushered in America’s first Black president, but the party is now under fire for hiring a surprisingly low number of minority-owned firms.
A new report revealed that less than 2 percent of party funds available to hire consulting firms went to firms with at least partial minority ownership.
According to the PowerPAC+ report, only 1.7 percent of the Democratic Party’s $514 million set aside to pay consulting firms went to firms run by African-American, Latino, Asian American or Pacific Islander, or Native American individuals.
That means less than $9 million went to minority firms.
Of the nearly 300 firms that were contracted, only 13 had minority principals.
Policy experts are now criticizing the party for failing to provide a diverse pool of consultants and say the situation is “embarrassing” since it is happening under the first Black president’s watch.
“The fact that this is occurring under the first Black president’s watch should be a wake-up call because it’s embarrassing,” said veteran strategist Donna Brazile, vice chair of the Democratic Party for voter registration and participation. “The people exist, the organizations exist and the resources are there. This is a failure by those that are running and managing the party.”
The Democratic Party insists, however, that they have remained true to their commitment to diversity, especially when compared to its political counterpart.
“When you look at the two parties, it is clear which party has a demonstrated commitment to diversity and policies that will help all communities,” said Democratic National Committee Communications Director Mo Elleithee. “Having said that, we can always do better. And I’m happy there are people out there holding our feet to the fire.”
Steve Phillips, the Democratic megadonor who funds PowerPAC+, said in some ways he believes the election of the nation’s first Black president has caused issues of diversity to be swept under the rug.
“It is surprising how stark the problem is,” Phillips said, according to Politico. “I think we’ve seen, in some ways, that the election of the first Black president has masked the problems we have underneath, in terms of the infrastructure and the operatives.”
Phillips added that the Democratic Party will not always have a minority president to “fall back on” to “engage the electorate.”
“We’re not just saying that you have to contract with consultants of color – although we think we should – but we need to… bring in the expertise to reach out to the party’s base.”
Executive Director of the Asian American Action Fund Gautam Dutta, asked the party to “put their money where their mouth is.”
“There needs to be much more outreach efforts on the part of the campaign committees so we can bring more diverse talent into the fold,” Dutta told Politico.
It is also important to note a significant flaw in the report’s research: Committee spending cannot be tracked on the state level, which means there could be more minority consultants being contracted by the state parties.