Prominent Democrats are expressing outrage over revelations from former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile that Hillary Clinton’s campaign rigged the primary election against rival Bernie Sanders.
Brazile, in an excerpt from her upcoming book Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House, claims that prior to securing the party’s nomination, Clinton, through a joint fundraising agreement signed with the DNC, agreed to finance the DNC in exchange for power over the organization’s operations.
Normally, a nominee wouldn’t exert control over the national party apparatus until after accepting the nomination. According to Brazile, though, the Clinton camp took control of DNC operations in August 2015, nearly a year before Clinton accepted the nomination.
Brazile said the arrangement was “not illegal, but it sure looked unethical.”
“If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity,” she wrote.
The DNC is, ostensibly, a neutral organization meant to facilitate the contest between Clinton and Sanders, though Sanders supporters had long claimed the party showed a clear preference for Clinton.
Several prominent Democrats were quick to pounce on Brazile’s claims. Senator Elizabeth Warren, when asked by CNN if she believes the DNC rigged the primary contest against Sanders, said one word: “Yes.”
Warren, who campaigned heavily for Clinton during the election, called the Clinton revelations “a real problem” for Democrats.
“What we’ve got to do as Democrats now is, we’ve got to hold this party accountable,” she said.
Representative Tulsi Gabbard, who previously served as the DNC vice-chairwoman, called for a complete overhaul of campaign finance laws and a restructuring of the national party in response to the revelations the DNC rigged the nomination process in favor of Clinton.
“The DNC secretly chose their nominee over a year before the primary elections even occurred. This shines a light on how deeply broken our campaign finance laws are, and how they’ve weakened individual candidates while strengthening and empowering political parties and special interests,” Gabbard says in a video released Friday.
Gabbard said campaign finance laws “allowed the Clinton campaign to bypass individual campaign contribution limits by funneling millions of dollars through the DNC and state parties — taking control of the DNC in the process.”
Brazile laid out in her book, published by Politico, how the Clinton campaign used the DNC as “a fund-raising clearinghouse” in order to skirt election finance laws. Individuals are allowed to contribute a maximum of $2,700 directly to a presidential campaign, but the limits for state parties and the national committee are a lot higher.
Under the joint fundraising agreement Clinton signed with the DNC, individuals could write a check for $353,400 to the joint account. The money would first be deposited in state party accounts, before being transferred back to the DNC, and on to Clinton.
“Money in the battleground states usually stayed in that state, but all the other states funneled that money directly to the DNC, which quickly transferred the money to Brooklyn,” Brazile wrote, referencing the Clinton campaign headquarters in New York.
Ties to Obama
According to Brazile, former President Barack Obama and former DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz left the DNC $24 million in debt following the 2012 presidential election, which led to the “unethical” agreement with the Clinton campaign.
“What had happened?” Brazile wrote. “The party chair usually shrinks the staff between presidential election campaigns, but Debbie had chosen not to do that. She had stuck lots of consultants on the DNC payroll, and Obama’s consultants were being financed by the DNC, too.”
The Clinton campaign cleared up the pre-existing debt left behind by the Obama campaign and, in return, the DNC agreed to let the Clinton campaign “control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised,” Brazile said.
Brazile took over as chairwoman of the DNC when her predecessor, Wasserman Schultz, was forced to resign after emails released by WikiLeaks appeared to show her coordinating party efforts with the Clinton campaign.