Florida Democratic Party suspends three local party chairs

by | Mar 5, 2024

The Florida Democratic Party suspended the chairs of its Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Franklin county branches to address compliance issues and improve the party’s regional effectiveness.

The Florida Democratic Party (FDP) announced on Monday the suspension of the chairs of its Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Franklin county branches in a move to address ongoing compliance issues and “get the party back on track.”

The decision, detailed by FDP Chair Nikki Fried, affects Robert Dempster, Mindy Koch, and Carol Barfield, leaders of the respective county Democratic Executive Committees (DECs). According to a release issued by the party, the action is part of an effort to enhance the party’s effectiveness in key regions, following attempts to resolve various complaints and noncompliance instances predating Fried’s tenure. An assessment team was previously deployed to evaluate and assist the troubled DECs, aimed at ensuring their adherence to the party’s operational standards.

“Over the past year, the Florida Democratic Party has made repeated attempts to mitigate complaints received prior to my election as Chair and support the leaders of Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Franklin Democratic Executive Committees (DECs),” said Fried in a prepared statement. “One of my first actions as Chair was the launch of an assessment team to evaluate issues, review plans and provide guidance to parties identified as noncompliant.”

The suspensions are immediate, signaling the start of a three-step removal process that includes a compliance notice, the suspension itself, and a final vote by the Central Committee, which is yet to be scheduled. Until a decision is reached, the First Vice Chair of each affected DEC will assume leadership responsibilities.

“Candidates and elected officials rely on their local democratic parties to register voters, mobilize volunteers and engage donors to support their efforts — and they are impacted the most when they are not working effectively,” Fried continued. The success of Florida Democrats depends on the success of our local parties on the ground, and the majority of our DECs are working tirelessly to organize year-round across the state. There is too much at stake to ignore the challenges before us and we need all of our local parties engaged in our mission to take back Florida.”

Some Democrats are critical of the suspensions, however. Dr. Carolina Ampudia, a former candidate for Chair of the Florida Democratic Party and current President of the Progressive Caucus of Broward County, referred to the move as a “losing strategy.”

“I don’t think it’s the right movement or timing. The size of the counties makes it particularly worrisome,” she told The Capitolist. “In a state where close to 50 percent are in or around poverty levels, with areas that have some of the worst housing crisis in the nation, it just seems like the party prefers to play political games than actually fight for our people.”


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