“At the end of the day we are one Democratic family,” says DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Shultz
There is not enough popcorn in the world for this one. This is going to be one heckuva show.
Politico reported this evening:
Bernie Sanders’ campaign on Friday sued the Democratic National Committee for suspending its access to the national voter database, saying the move threatens to undermine the Vermont senator’s presidential run.
Even as the campaign admitted its staffers had inappropriately reviewed and saved Hillary Clinton campaign data made available as a result of a software error, it emphatically accused the DNC of sabotage and of blatantly favoring Clinton.
This afternoon, Sanders’ campaign threatened to sue. Shortly thereafter, they made good on that threat:
More from Politico:
“The leadership of the Democratic National Committee is now actively attempting to undermine our campaign. This is unacceptable,” Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver said on the eve of the third Democratic debate. “Individual leaders of the DNC can support Hillary Clinton in any way they want, but they are not going to sabotage our campaign — one of the strongest grassroots campaigns in modern history.”
The suit argues that the party is denying the campaign access to its voter data in violation of a contract governing the use of the information. The campaign contends this freeze is an illegal overreaction to the episode.
“The suspension or termination of the Campaign’s access was undertaken without contractual cause, and in contravention of the Agreement’s termination protocols,” the suit says.
“The DNC may not suspend the Campaign’s access to critical Voter Data out of haste or desperation to clean up after the DNC’s own mistakes,” the complaint adds.
At issue is a revelation that Sanders’ digital director Josh Uretsky — likely along with other staffers — took advantage of a software error this week by political data technology company NGP VAN that allowed them to see the voter file that contains vital information used by campaigns to identify and monitor voters and potential supporters.
The DNC’s punishment is a potentially crippling blow to the Vermont senator’s campaign: it means he temporarily loses access to critical voter data just weeks before voting is set to begin in Iowa and New Hampshire, where he is within striking distance of Clinton. Without access to the voter file, on-the-ground organizing will become far more difficult for Sanders.
DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman Shultz doubled down on the DNC’s decision, saying it was the only way to protect the allegedly stolen data:
“That is the only way that we can make sure that we can protect our significant asset that is the voter file and its integrity,” Wasserman Schultz said on CNN.
She said “multiple staffers” from the Sanders campaign downloaded information that they did not have the right to collect.
“They not only viewed it, but they exported it and they downloaded it,” Wasserman Schultz told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “We don’t know the depth of what they actually viewed and downloaded. We have to make sure that they did not manipulate the information.”
She added, “That is just like if you walked into someone’s home when the door was unlocked and took things that don’t belong to you in order to use them for your own benefit. That’s inappropriate. Unacceptable.”
The DNC has already faced severe criticism from Democrat supporters over the sparse presidential primary debate schedule; a schedule which has most of the debates tucked away on Saturday nights. SandersGate has agitated those who believe the DNC is showing partiality to frontrunner, Hillary Clinton.
“The Democratic National Committee’s decision to attack the campaign that figured out the problem, rather than go after the vendor that made the mistake, is profoundly damaging to the party’s Democratic process,” said Charles Chamberlain, executive director of Democracy for America, a liberal group that endorsed Sanders this week.
“DNC leaders should immediately reverse this disturbing decision before the committee does even more to bring its neutrality in the race for President into question,” he added.
Weaver, the Sanders campaign manager, said of the DNC, “In this case, it looks like they are trying to help the Clinton campaign.”
“We are taking on the establishment and I’m sure there are people within the Democratic establishment who are not happy about the overwhelming success that Bernie Sanders is having all across this country,” he added. “But we are determined to win this campaign and we’re going to win this campaign by talking about the issues that are important to the American people. To do that we are going to need our data, which has been stolen by the DNC.”
Outraged, progressives took to social media to vent their frustration:
— Michael Oman-Reagan (@OmanReagan) December 18, 2015
— Luke Foley (@LukeRFoley) December 18, 2015
— Janet (@janet_sistare) December 18, 2015
— mike harrison (@mikeharrisonvo) December 18, 2015
UPDATE 12-19-2015 by WAJ: The Washington Post reports, Accord reached after Sanders sues the DNC over suspended access to critical voter list:
After midnight, Sanders and the DNC put out statements that both indicated the impasse had been resolved but that put remarkably different spins on the outcome. Sanders’s campaign said the DNC had “capitulated” and that Sanders would soon regain access to the data. The DNC said what happened was “completely unacceptable” and that it would continue to investigate the circumstances even as Sanders regained access to the valuable information.
Without a quick resolution, the messy public brawl threatened to overshadow Saturday’s third Democratic presidential debate and cast doubt on the DNC’s ability to manage the sophisticated data tools necessary for the party to win the White House next year. And it sparked significant suspicions among Sanders supporters that the party was conspiring to give a boost to Clinton.
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