Green Party awash in red ink?

Environmentally minded politicos struggle to keep financial house in order

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If you're to believe the Green Party of the United States' latest campaign finance disclosure, the party is mired in financial crisis, carrying nearly $36,000 in debt and a negative cash balance of more than $58,000.

Not exactly a solid foundation for establishing yourself as a legit alternative to Republicans and Democrats.

But wait, the Green Party says: its financial situation isn't quite so bleak.

Errors in the party's previous reports to the Federal Election Commission are to blame, and in actuality, it's in the black by about $10,000, party official Brian Bittner tells the Center for Public Integrity.

"We are preparing to file several amendments over the next few weeks to correct those errors," Bittner said. "We do have to continue filing timely reports even while we are working to amend them."

To be sure, the Green Party has never been cash rich. At the end of 2004, the Green Party reported nearly $46,000 cash on hand, while at the end of 2008, it reported more than $33,000 in debt and deficits.

Green Party activists' tepid financial support for their own party committee doesn't mean they're turning to other political vehicles, such as super PACs, to boost their electoral prospects, either.

David Cobb, who was the Green Party’s presidential nominee in 2004, told the Center for Public Integrity last year that super PACs were being used to “drown out” the voices of ordinary citizens, and Jill Stein, the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, pushed for publicly financed elections — a system that she, unlike President Barack Obama or Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, participated in last year.

Stein placed fourth in the election with about 470,000 votes nationwide, well behind Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, who captured nearly 1.3 million votes. In contrast, Obama won nearly 66 million popular votes.

Why is 2013 an important year for campaign finance? Dave Levinthal and Michael Beckel will answer that, and many other questions about the money-in-politics world in a live chat on Monday, Feb. 4, at 1 p.m. ET.