We knew things were bad with the DNC during the last presidential election. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwomen, was forced aside on the eve of the Democratic National Convention due to the release of thousands of embarrassing emails among party officials that appeared to show coordinated efforts to help Clinton at the expense of her rivals in the Democratic primaries. That contradicted claims by the party and the Clinton campaign that the process was open and fair for her leading challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Donna Brazile was brought in to manage things. Now Brazile is telling us just how bad things really were.
Debbie was not a good manager. She hadn’t been very interested in controlling the party—she let Clinton’s headquarters in Brooklyn do as it desired so she didn’t have to inform the party officers how bad the situation was. How much control Brooklyn had and for how long was still something I had been trying to uncover for the last few weeks.
By September 7, the day I called Bernie, I had found my proof and it broke my heart.
The Saturday morning after the convention in July, I called Gary Gensler, the chief financial officer of Hillary’s campaign. He wasted no words. He told me the Democratic Party was broke and $2 million in debt.
That wasn’t true, he said. Officials from Hillary’s campaign had taken a look at the DNC’s books. Obama left the party $24 million in debt—$15 million in bank debt and more than $8 million owed to vendors after the 2012 campaign and had been paying that off very slowly. Obama’s campaign was not scheduled to pay it off until 2016. Hillary for America (the campaign) and the Hillary Victory Fund (its joint fundraising vehicle with the DNC) had taken care of 80 percent of the remaining debt in 2016, about $10 million, and had placed the party on an allowance.
Consider this for a moment. Senior leaders in the DNC had no idea of the finances within the DNC because Wasserman Schultz cut them out of the loop. Keep in mind that Brazile is finding out the DNC’s financial picture from the Clinton campaign’s CFO.
On the phone Gary told me the DNC had needed a $2 million loan, which the campaign had arranged.
“No! That can’t be true!” I said. “The party cannot take out a loan without the unanimous agreement of all of the officers.”
“Gary, how did they do this without me knowing?” I asked. “I don’t know how Debbie relates to the officers,” Gary said. He 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 clearing house. Under FEC law, an individual can contribute a maximum of $2,700 directly to a presidential campaign. But the limits are much higher for contributions to state parties and a party’s national committee.
Individuals who had maxed out their $2,700 contribution limit to the campaign could write an additional check for $353,400 to the Hillary Victory Fund—that figure represented $10,000 to each of the thirty-two states’ parties who were part of the Victory Fund agreement—$320,000—and $33,400 to the DNC. The money would be deposited in the states first, and transferred to the DNC shortly after that. 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.
“Wait,” I said. “That victory fund was supposed to be for whoever was the nominee, and the state party races. You’re telling me that Hillary has been controlling it since before she got the nomination?”
Gary said the campaign had to do it or the party would collapse.
The Clinton campaign arranged a loan on behalf of the DNC without clearing it with the DNC board. The Clinton campaign was actually controlling and using funds that were donated to support Democrat candidates. Arguably, the Clinton campaign evaded federal campaign finance laws by basically “buying” the Democrat party – and by that I mean giving the DNC the choice between being controlled or bankruptcy – and milking it dry, sort of like the way old-time Mafia guys would “buy” a restaurant and milk it dry by skimming off cash.
The Bernie bots are screaming to high heaven again about a “rigged” election wherein the Clinton team had a stranglehold over all the resources — the money, the mailing lists, etc.
And the complaint has some basis, although Brazile herself is backing off from the “rigged” claim. But it seems to me that Bernie Sanders, NOT A DEMOCRAT, has little standing to complain. He became a member of the Democratic Party for purposes of the election only. Does that excuse the Clinton campaign from virtually monopolizing the DNC? Of course not. And a nice purging of the Clintons from the DNC party structure would me a good thing. But the Bernie Bros have GOT to shut up.
To be honest, I have little interest in relitigating the 2016 Democratic primaries. I AM a little annoyed with Brazile for giving this talking point gift-wrapped to the alt-right and Trump, especially as the Mueller investigation is heating up.
UPDATE – The Rude Pundit says:
Let’s put this as simply as possible regarding Donna Brazile’s “revelations” about the operation of the DNC:
We. Have. More. Important. Shit. To. Do. Than. Constantly. Fighting. About. The. 2016. Democratic. Nominating. Process.
I know some of you immediately wanna say, “I can be angry about more than one thing,” as if you’re somehow offering a compelling counterargument instead of sounding like a confused child. But you can’t do something about everything because there are only so many fucking hours in a fucking day.
I know some of you immediately wanna say, “You don’t get to decide what’s important.” To which I can only answer: Yes. Yes, I do.
I know some of you wanna say, “I guess you don’t want to change the Democratic Party,” usually followed by a blizzard of words like “rigged” and “fraud” and “stole” and “Grrrr-Hillary” and “Grrr-DSW” (not the shoe store), which is really part of a fantasy that Bernie Sanders would have won the election if the eeevil Democratic Party itself hadn’t conspired against him. Never mind that Clinton had been working within the Democratic Party for almost her entire adult life (putting aside that youthful Goldwater fling).
I know some of you wanna say that if we don’t fight about the future of the DNC now, we’ll never win, we’ll never get the disaffected Bernie-loving youth back, we’ll never get progressive ideas in the platform, we’ll never, we’ll never, we’ll never. And I’ll just say, “Fine. Get into the game and change it. But how about waiting until after the fucking midterms, huh? How about getting involved in the local races to make sure the candidate you want wins? How about getting into it on a local level? How about not making everything about the presidency because, as the GOP learned with Trump and the DNC learned with Barack Obama, someone is always gonna come along and fuck your nice plan up?”
If you’re already in the trenches, awesome. But the vast majority of people saying this shit aren’t. I promise you they aren’t.
I know you wanna say this shit because many of you have said this shit to me. And I get it. I totally fucking get it. But the fights that you want to have are the fights you have when you’re not facing a fucking existential crisis.
I could toss in a metaphor or two to this argument. “The house is burning down and you want to talk about the color of the drapes” or some such bullshit. At one point, I really thought about doing a whole Game of Thrones thing, since that seems to form the cultural foundation for so many people (seriously, fuck anyone who says, “Bend the knee” and isn’t being funny or is actually a character on Game of Thrones). I thought about comparing Trump to the Night King and people who would rather fight the old battles instead of the new ones to Cersei Lannister refusing to join Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen against the frozen zombies, but, then I thought I’d have people throwing all these geeky references at me and citing the books and whatever, and just imagining that gave me a headache.
It’s not as fun out here in Left Blogsylvania as it was pre-Twitter. And it’s absolutely a waste of fucking time to be arguing this shit when the barbarians aren’t at the gate anymore. They are sacking the joint.
By making something out of this genuine nothing, you have given Donald Trump and the GOP and the right-wing media monster enough fuel to last for months. By jumping into the fray on this, by decrying Clinton and DNC, you have allowed the narrative on the corruption of the Trump administration to be watered down. You are giving anyone who was on the fence a reason to cling to Trump.
I have to add to this as I have to add to all things regarding 2016: I voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary. I explained my reasons for doing that. And I had absolutely no trouble shifting to Hillary Clinton once the primaries are over. Because this shit isn’t about me and my hurt feelings.
Hillary Clinton didn’t rig anything. Even Donna Brazile said that today. She didn’t hack the vote during the primaries. She didn’t deliberately lose caucuses. What she did do was play politics, a filthy and dishonorable game. What she did do was expect the party that she had raised vast amounts of money for (for state and local races and party groups) to back her over the guy who all of a sudden decided he wanted to play and demanded that he be treated equal to the woman who spent her life working for the party.
You don’t like the fuckin’ rules? Then go to your local party headquarters. Volunteer. Answer phones. Work your way up the local hierarchy. Show you have more interest in the party than just every four years.