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Friday, July 20, 2018

By Susan Heavey and Megan Cassella

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders accused party leaders on Friday of trying to undermine his White House bid and boost rival Hillary Clinton after his campaign was disciplined for accessing Clinton’s voter files.

The Democratic National Committee denied the Sanders campaign access to DNC voter data after a Sanders staffer improperly breached Clinton files on Wednesday. Bernie Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said the breach was accidental and threatened to go to court Friday afternoon if access to its own data was not restored.

“In this case it looks like they are trying to help the Clinton campaign,” Weaver said at a news conference, accusing the DNC of taking the Sanders campaign “hostage.”

The Sanders camp fired the staffer who breached Clinton’s files and Weaver said he was running a clean campaign.

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz defended the punishment against Sanders in a CNN interview, saying his campaign had acted in an “inappropriate, unacceptable” manner and had downloaded information.

“To get to the bottom of it we are going to ask the Sanders campaign to participate in an independent audit,” she said. “I hope they will agree to that.”

The incident comes at an inauspicious time for Sanders, the Democratic socialist who is trying to stop the heavily favored Clinton from running away with the party’s 2016 presidential nomination. Sanders has been lagging behind Clinton, with 29 percent support to her 60 percent in recent Reuters/Ipsos polling.

Sanders, Clinton and a third candidate, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, are to meet for a debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Saturday night.

The breach occurred for a brief period on Wednesday Sanders staffers were able to view confidential information from the DNC, the organization said.

The Sanders campaign said the breach of the files, which contain voter information such as past support and donation history, was an isolated incident and blamed it on the DNC’s software vendor, Washington-based NGP VAN, which it said has dropped the firewall between the various Democratic candidates’ data more than once.

Stu Trevelyan, chief executive of DNC software vendor NGP VAN, acknowledged the breach in a statement but said his company is not aware of any previous reported incidents of data being “inappropriately available.” He called the breach a “brief isolated issue” that was fixed and is now being reviewed.

Liberals sympathetic to Sanders were outraged by the DNC’s response to the breach, in line with their concerns that the DNC has made decisions aimed at helping Clinton become the nominee, such as staging fewer debates and holding them on weekends when fewer people will be watching.

“I think the DNC’s crossed the line and it’s going to open up a whole new part in the campaign season,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, a liberal group that endorsed Sanders. “I think this is a gloves-off moment.”

Another liberal group, Democracy for America, rushed to Sanders’ defense.

“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, Democracy for America’s executive director.

He said 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.”

A person familiar with the matter told CNN that Josh Uretsky, the Sanders campaign’s national data director, was fired for accessing the voter data.


(Additional reporting by James Oliphant in Washington and and Luciana Lopez and Emily Flitter in New York; writing by Steve Holland, Editing by Bill Trott)

Photo: U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at the Communication Workers of America (CWA) office in Washington December 17, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

6 Responses to Sanders Campaign Accuses Democratic Officials Of Helping Clinton

  1. Sad that this article leaves out a lot of relevant information available on other sites. In that the Clinton data was accessed by four separate Sanders accounts, it is clear that at least 4 Sanders staffers were involved. They accessed at least 24 or 25 data lists, then copied and downloaded Clinton data. The general assessment is that the data represents millions of dollars worth of loss to the Clinton campaign. Clearly, firing one guy does not solve the problem – he may have been the ringleader, but at least 4 staffers participated in the data theft – all should be terminated, at the very least. The real problem, in my opinion, is that by taking advantage of the software defect to steal Clinton data, Sanders’ staffers give Bernie a “black eye,” and make bad behavior by Dems a front page issue for days, instead of the media focus being on Trump’s outrageous claims that people should be tortured, “just because,” and the general lack of qualifications of the entire Republican field. Til now, the Dem field was clearly the good guys and the “adults in the room.” This hurts us all.

    • Excellent assessment. I’ve yet to hear an apology to the Clinton campaign, just crying about being unfavorably treated. Lowers my opinion of the Senator.

  2. Let’s see … the Wasserman Schultz lead DNC hires or selects a crony led company to create a database that campaigns can PURCHASE. Their buggy-software doesn’t restrict access to proprietary, campaign-specific components of the dataset and lets any user (who has logged into the database) access. Then, when the logs show that a user of the Bernie Sanders Campaign has retrieved data from the database that was input by HRC staff, it is somehow a Sanders campaign problem.

    Given that one of the job descriptions for the database miners is to sift through relevant data, how could the staffer NOT take a look at what was there, delivered up by the vendor’s software to his user id? How was he supposed to know that the data wasn’t “his” (his account’s)?

    What do the logs show for cross-access by other accounts, because apparently this has happened several times in the past?

    As to “black-eyes” on candidates, what do you suppose will be waiting for HRC and the rest of us, should she become POTUS? Just like the Arkansas-Watergate media feeding frenzy that went from topic to topic for the duration of Bill’s tenure, the GOP Clinton Hit squad is already genning up scandal after scandal – emails, Benghazi, Funding of the Clinton empire and on and on. the HRC administration will be so busy responding to this congressional committee or that subcommittee that they will have no time left for anything other that letting the R’s and neo-fascists control the legislation as well as public focus.

    It turns out that HRC’s main supporters – Wall ST and big money elites won’t mind this at all because the status quo is just fine with them.

  3. If Bernie Sanders is the honorable man I thought he was, his campaign is not serving him well.

    It is not unusual to have on a campaign staff one or more staff who will make honest mistakes, or who will be tempted by a situation to make dishonest mistakes that are of degrees of severity. If those mistakes reach a level of severity that dishonors the candidate, they are fired, which was done in this incident. But, when the campaign compounds the error by disowning responsibility and accountability, and does not demonstrate due diligence with compliance into the investigation of the incident, and chooses instead to go ballistic, blaming everyone else for the cause of the incident, with whining, and making bizarre and weak accusations against others, that is dishonest; it is an indication of an inability to take responsibility for your own actions; it is exploiting your own mistake in ways to absolve yourself and to further your own interests.

    It is not that the Sanders campaign made such a “mistake” that is newsworthy, because they took the correct initial action. It is the management of how they followed up that is disturbing and dishonorable, and that is what speaks volumes, for me. I must question why they could not comply with the DNC’s request for information to investigate the degree of impact their original “mistake” had on the impact of the campaign process. I have to wonder why such a strong and viable campaign of an attractive and successful candidate would need to exploit the situation to the extent that they chose. I have to wonder why the candidate the campaign represents did not tell them to cease and desist and to “own up” and to comply with the DNC’s requests.

    The accusations and assignment of blame and responsibility onto others….the flawed system everyone knew existed and had not exploited before….the claim of “preferential treatment for the other candidate….the “injustice of it all” as if they were victims….the complaints about the number of debates and the schedule of them….are lame, weak, disingenuous, and none of those complaints can be said to have diminished their candidate’s appeal to the voters. But, the management of this incident’s fall out, not even the incident itself, has done, IMO, the most damage to this candidate’s image and appeal to myself, at least, if not to many others.

    It could be said that the campaign manager looked like a “raving Socialist” in the worst way, blaming the self imposed ills onto the system in which he operates, a system which he exploited from start to finish, instead of taking responsibility for his own actions. There are rules and norms everyone must follow and when one chooses to flaunt those rules and norms, one must take ownership, and not rant and rail and blame everyone else and file law suits as the first avenue for resolution when you are so obviously the one at fault. One does not look for scapegoats with which to absolve oneself of accountability.

    The only unfair advantage Hillary Clinton has over Sanders is the fact that many voters have wanted her to be President for a long time, before anyone knew very much of Bernie Sanders. She has had enough to answer for re her abilities and her character, most of it because she has been in the public arena for so long, most of it because she is a “threat” to so many, and most of it pure political exploitation. There is no need for Bernie Sanders and his campaign to engage in the same exploitation. He was doing a very good job of carrying his own weight with success, without having to sink so low as his campaign did with this stunt, from start to finish. He was an impressive and viable contender.

    All of this must be the explanation why I have been receiving so many surveys and requests for support from Bernie’s campaign. In my disappointment because of this unnecessary kerfluffle that is so disheartening and disgusting, I will “block” those emails. I am not impressed any longer. Whereas before I was content with either Bernie or Hillary as the nominee, the threats of Bernie running as an Independent in such a crucial election, the inability to take ownership for this mess, the ranting and raving and irresponsible accusations and the knee jerk law suit as relief for something they brought onto themselves, I have narrowed my own choice.

    As with Republicans, ranting and raving, and filing law suits when you don’t do your job or don’t do it well, and blaming everyone else for your own bad performances, your own mistakes and weaknesses, is not a display of good and effective leadership, capability, or even basic honesty. There was a simple and straightforward way with which to deal with the aftermath of the original error that was the fault of the Sanders campaign only.

    No one else did that; no one else made that choice this time, especially when the opportunity to do that was there for anyone to have done the same thing, on numerous occasions before. No one else is responsible for non compliance with the DNC’s request for that information that was taken, but the Sanders campaign. And no one ese is responsible for the ranting and raving, the accusations and blaming everyone else, the law suit as the only recourse for relief, when there was another, simple solution, but the Sanders campaign. For me, it is unforgivable for a Democrat candidate to engage in this trash during an election with monumental impact for the future of our country and such a Democrat candidate does not deserve my support.

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