Just when we’d almost forgotten there was even a Democrat primary race underway, things are suddenly getting very interesting. This morning, we shared the news that the Bernie Sanders campaign has been caught stealing confidential voter information from the Democratic National Committee.
As a result, the Democratic National Committee has suspended Sanders’ campaign’s access to the national voter database. Now, the Sanders campaign has just accused the DNC of sabotage and blatant favoritism towards rival Hillary Clinton — and is threatening to SUE the DNC if it doesn’t remedy the situation immediately.
And, just like that, it appears the relatively sleepy little Democrat primary is verging on all-out war.
As Politico reports:
Bernie Sanders’ campaign on Friday threatened to sue 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.
“We are announcing today that if the DNC continues to hold our data hostage, and continues to try to attack the heart and soul of our campaign, we will be in federal court this afternoon seeking an immediate injunction,” Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver said at a press conference Friday afternoon, on the eve of the third Democratic debate.
“The leadership of the Democratic National Committee is now actively attempting to undermine our campaign. This is unacceptable,” he said. “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.”
Not hard to figure out what “individual leaders” they’re referring to. (Yep, looking at you, Little Debbie.)
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.
The dispute, which broke open after Sanders had a strong day of scoring two major endorsements, set off a broader war within the Democratic Party, which has not yet fully coalesced behind Clinton. The former secretary of state is leading Sanders by more than 20 points in national polls, but Sanders has tapped into the populist urgings of the party and has a strong grassroots fundraising base.
The controversy also blew open a long-simmering dispute between the DNC and Clinton’s rival campaigns, who have long harbored resentments over the appearance that the organization was acting to boost the Democratic front-runner’s political fortunes.
DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schutz, speaking on CNN, said its action to suspend Sanders’ access to the voter file was “certainly not unreasonable.”
She said if the shoe was on the other foot, and the Clinton camp had accessed Sanders’ data, “I’m confident that this is the decision that they would expect from us.”
Interesting to note that Debbie doesn’t suggest she actually would have made a decision against the Clinton camp, were the roles reversed — just that it would be expected of her.
So today we learned that criminal behavior in the digital realm isn’t the exclusive domain of Hillary Clinton. The Democrat party provides equal opportunity for criminal behavior! We have Hillary Clinton under investigation by the FBI, and now Bernie Sanders’ campaign accused of stealing. So far, however, Sanders’ campaign is the only one whose suffered any consequences between the two.
But if the Sanders campaign makes good on its promise to sue the DNC, that could amount to a huge distraction — and public relations mess — that could possibly harm everyone. I have to admit, it’s kinda nice to see the circular firing on the other side of the aisle for a change. Could be a reason to tune into tomorrow night’s Democrat debate even!
UPDATE via The Associated Press:
The presidential campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to regain access to a Democratic National Committee voter database.
The DNC temporarily barred the campaign this week from the massive trove of voter information after Sanders’ staff improperly accessed data compiled by the campaign of rival Hillary Clinton.
The lawsuit says the campaign is now “sustaining irreparable injury and financial losses.”
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]