New Documents Suggest Clinton and DNC Conspired to Block Sanders from Key Voter Database
In December 2015, just weeks before Sanders and Clinton faced off for the first caucuses in Iowa, something curious happened. The DNC cut off Sanders’ access to a critical voter database.
A software vendor, hired by the DNC, had incidentally exposed confidential voter information collected by the Clinton campaign to the Sanders campaign. The glitch and complications it caused were entirely the vendor’s fault, an independent investigation would later find.
Nevertheless, the DNC penalized Sanders for the error. The DNC leadership went as far as suspending Sanders’ access to the voter database, even though it was the DNC that had hired the company responsible for the mistake. NGP VAN, the software vendor in question, is the same vendor Guccifer 2.0 allegedly hacked to breach the DNC’s network. There were clearly vulnerabilities in the software, which Sanders had nothing to do with.
A campaign cannot function, let alone compete, without access to essential voter data. In suspending Sanders’ access, the DNC effectively crippled his campaign and deprived it of its lifeblood. Then-DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (“DWS”) alleged that such a suspension was necessary to ensure the security of the committee’s voter files. But if that were the case, if security were the concern, DWS should have cut off data access to all campaigns until the issue was resolved. Instead, she let one candidate suffer and helped another prosper.
Later, she would resign from her role as DNC chair amid growing allegations that she had rigged the primary. It should be noted that DWS also happened to serve as Clinton’s campaign co-chair in 2008.
It should also be noted that in 2008, when DWS served as Clinton’s co-chair, the two women found themselves in an eerily similar position as Senator Sanders. NGP VAN, the same software vendor that would mishandle voter data in 2015, accidentally exposed Obama’s voter data to the Clinton campaign. But the DNC didn’t take any action in ‘08. It certainly didn’t suspend anyone’s data access.
Sanders, meanwhile, had to sue the DNC before his own data access was restored. All the while, Clinton’s campaign marched ahead at full throttle while Sanders’ camp scrambled. Keep in mind, this was mere weeks before the first caucuses in Iowa. Every minute without that voter data was a minute the Sanders campaign couldn’t afford to lose.
In emails released by WikiLeaks, we later discovered that the DNC’s communications official and communications director actively conspired to undermine the Sanders campaign. Mark Paustenbach and Luis Miranda, who, as DNC leaders, were expected to be neutral, discussed exploiting the software vendor’s slip up to make Sanders look sloppy. “Wondering if there’s a good Bernie narrative for a story, which is that Bernie never ever had his act together, that his campaign was a mess,” Paustenbach wrote in an email to his communications director.
Fascinatingly, the only time a DNC email mentions the software vendor NGP VAN, the subject line reads: “Urgent question.” In that email thread, released by Wikileaks, DNC Communications Director Luis Miranda and her team coordinate a response to allegations that DWS blocked her congressional primary opponent, Tim Canova, from his access to the very same voter database.
Jake Hamburg, a spokesperson for the Alaskan Democratic Party, initiated the conversation: “I have been asked about the chairwoman blocking Tim Canova from using the voter file.” As the DNC leaders coordinated a response, one staffer wrote, “Knowing the sensitivity of this, I want to make sure you are looped in.” The team then decided their response would be, “It’s completely untrue.”
Yesterday, the plot thickened. In a bombshell report published by DWS’ successor, Donna Brazile, we learned that the Clinton campaign signed into a secret agreement with the DNC nearly a year before becoming the party’s nominee. According to the agreement, Clinton promised to raise money and invest in the DNC in exchange for near total control over the committee itself. Clinton would assume control over all of the DNC’s financial, strategic and staffing decisions, but also its data and analytics practices. This is where things get really interesting.
According to Brazile, the DNC “was required to consult with the (Clinton) campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.” In other words, before DWS made the unprecedented move of suspending Sanders’ access to the voter database, she was required to consult Clinton. Not consulting the Clinton campaign would have violated their secret agreement.
Per the agreement, the DNC was required to confer with Clinton’s campaign on everything data related. This part of the arrangement would certainly have extended to and also explained the DNC’s decision to revoke their own candidate’s access to vital data. Rarely in political history has a political party so blatantly conspired against one of its own candidates at the behest of another.
In her capacity as DNC chair, DWS served faithfully as a Clinton operative who worked her way up to the highest position in the committee. Even though her bias for Clinton was as clear as day (after all, she was Clinton’s former campaign chair), the DNC failed to remove her. It wasn’t until yesterday that we learned why the DNC kept DWS in power for so long. According to the Joint Fund-Raising Agreement, Clinton assumed complete control over the DNC’s staffing decisions. Why wouldn’t Clinton keep her own personal aid in the highest position of power?
The timing of all of this couldn’t have been more perfect for the Clinton campaign. The Joint Fund-Raising Agreement between Clinton and the DNC was signed, behind closed doors, in August 2015. By December 2015, just a few months after the DNC sold its neutrality, it sabotaged Sanders by revoking his access to the voter files. And while Sanders managed to sue the DNC and regain data access within a short period of time, he nevertheless faced unprecedented disadvantages and distractions during the pivotal weeks leading up to Iowa.
Clinton would go on to edge Sanders out in Iowa, 49.9 percent to Sanders’ 49.6 percent.
By June 2016, the Associate Press and every mainstream media outlet declared Clinton the presumptive nominee. According to the New York Times, “Presumptive nominee” is a term that “has no formal definition in politics.” You’re either the party’s nominee or you’re not. And in Clinton’s case, she couldn’t possibly have been the nominee. After all, the delegates still wouldn’t vote for another month and a half at the Democratic National Convention.
Around the same time in June, a class action lawsuit was filed against the DNC and DWS. The lawsuit claimed that DWS and the DNC broke the rules of their own charter and rigged the primary in Clinton’s favor. The following summer, Federal Judge William Zloch, dismissed the lawsuit. The Judge decided that while DWS and the DNC did hold a “palpable bias in favor of Clinton and sought to propel her ahead of her Democratic Party,” the court’s jurisdiction was limited. Just like that, the lawsuit was dropped.
The DNC’s attorneys had argued that the promise of a fair, neutral DNC was nothing but a political promise. There was nothing legally stopping committee insiders like DWS from handpicking candidates of their choice or sabotaging another candidate just weeks before the first primaries.
Today, the DNC remains but a skeleton of a once vibrant political institution. Sanders remains the most popular politician in the country and the irony of it is, the DNC needs him now more than ever.