In an explosive essay penned ahead of the release of her book describing the 2016 election, former interim DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile asserts Hillary Clinton’s campaign had essentially controlled the party’s operation during the Democratic presidential primary through a negotiated agreement with committee officials.
Ms. Brazile discloses the document which revealed the arrangement, the Joint Fund-Raising Agreement, was signed by Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook and DNC CEO Amy Dacey on Aug. 26, 2015.
In an excerpt from her book Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House, Brazile details her experiences arriving to take over the DNC after the departure of disgraced ex-Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, only to discover the party’s finances in utter chaos and a rigged nomination framework favoring Clinton.
Uncovering the fact the DNC was deeply in debt, Brazile recounts a conversion with Clinton finance chair, Gary Gensler, who delivered bad news; Gensler informed Brazile the DNC was only surviving on the former secretary of state’s campaign dollars.
“(Gensler) described the party as fully under the control of Hillary’s campaign, which seemed to confirm the suspicions of the Bernie camp. The campaign had the DNC on life support, giving it money every month to meet its basic expenses, while the campaign was using the party as a fund-raising clearinghouse,” Brazile wrote.
Brazile describes conversations with Gensler in which the DNC was essentially a welfare recipient of the Clinton campaign, requiring between $3.5–$4 million per month from Clinton to sustain. In exchange for keeping the DNC afloat, Clinton officials were making particularly critical decisions over campaign funds, as well as national party strategy and personnel.
While it is not unusual for a nominee to exert influence over a national committee, Brazile publicized it was very unusual for a primary candidate to control an entire party prior to earning the nomination.
Determined to find evidence to connect Clinton’s campaign to a rigged nomination system, Brazile says she found it in the aforementioned joint agreement.
A DNC official quoted by NPR notes the agreement included provisions which stated: “nothing in this agreement shall be construed to violate the DNC’s obligation of impartiality and neutrality through the Nominating process” and “all activities performed under this agreement will be focused exclusively on preparations for the General Election and not the Democratic Primary.”
However, as the Campaign Legal Center points out, a key clause in the agreement also stipulates the “DNC will provide (Hillary for America) advance opportunity to review on-line or mass email, communications that features a particular Democratic primary candidate.”
Once she acquired the proof of Clinton’s deception, Brazile describes the agonizing conversation she held with rival Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Explaining the phone call, Brazile writes:
“He did not yell or express outrage. I told him I had visited states around the country and I found a lack of enthusiasm for her everywhere. I urged Bernie to work as hard as he could to bring his supporters into the fold with Hillary, and to campaign with all the heart and hope he could muster.”
In a Thursday interview on CNN, former chairman of the Sanders’ campaign, Jeff Weaver, called the DNC’s shenanigans “egregious” and “undemocratic”, warning if the party doesn’t clean up its act, “(Democratic leaders) will be destroying the opportunity we have to take on Donald Trump.”
While Brazile responded vehemently to criticism from former Clinton campaign officials and other Democrats on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday, current DNC Chairman Tom Perez has issued a letter to party officials committing to a “transparent process” in 2020, in which “the primary debate schedule is decided well ahead of the presidential primary”.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated.
[Politico] [NPR] [ABC News] [Photo courtesy AFP/Getty Images via GQ]