5 Times Debbie Wasserman Schultz Violated DNC Rules and Stacked the Deck in Favor of Clinton|
Here’s how Debbie Wasserman Schultz has violated her own party’s rules to rig the process.
Tonight’s Democratic debate in Manchester, New Hampshire comes just a day after a very public battle between the Bernie Sanders campaign and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee. And given how Sanders raised an additional $1 million in just one day by maligning the Democratic Party organization as a saboteur working on behalf of his rival, the head of the DNC has made a name for herself among many Democratic voters as a shill for the Clinton machine.
If Wasserman Schultz hopes to maintain credibility, bring unity to the party, and help more Democrats win elections, it has a lot of work to do to define its reputation as something other than what former Virginia US Senator Jim Webb called “an arm for the Clinton campaign.”
Here are 5 blatant examples of the DNC tipping the scales in favor of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Democratic primaries:
1. Scheduling primary debates to garner as few viewers as possible
DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has taken lots of heat for scheduling only six Democratic primary debates compared to the Republicans’ 12 debates, and for scheduling them at times traditionally known for low TV ratings. Saturday night’s Democratic debate in Manchester, New Hampshire on ABC coincides with a Saturday night NFL football game on CBS, and is additionally competing with the opening weekend for the highly-anticipated Star Wars sequel. The debate is also just six nights before Christmas, when many Americans are likely traveling for the holidays. The next debate in January will take place on a weekend, at the same time as an NFL playoff game. The next debate that’s on a weekend isn’t until February, around the same time as the early primaries.
When asked about the timing of this weekend’s Democratic debate, a spokesman for Bernie Sanders joked “I guess Christmas Eve was booked.” Martin O’Malley accused the DNC of trying to “circle the wagons” around the front-runner.
Wasserman Schultz has also been accused of rigging debate audiences themselves to be friendly to Hillary Clinton. After the second Democratic debate in Iowa, Senate candidate Tom Fiegen accused the DNC of loading the room with Clinton supporters to make it seem to viewers that Clinton was winning the debate with each round of applause.
2. Grassroots Clinton field offices co-located at DNC offices
In a recent VICE News report, reporter Pete Voelker described seeing firsthand how the Clinton campaign had rented a campaign office within the local Democratic Party office in Nevada, a crucial early primary state. Indeed, both the Clinton field office and the Carson City Democratic Party list the same address: 502 E. John Street.
“With its walls papered with Hillary Clinton signs and the seats carefully arranged for the Hillary for America ribbon-cutting, it was hard to tell where the Democratic Party’s office ended and the Clinton office began. There were a few signs referencing Obama and the Affordable Care Act, but as far as I could tell, there weren’t any that mentioned the two other Democrats running for president.”
However, Sanders campaign spokeswoman Joan Kato said no local Democratic Party officials offered any office space to their Nevada operations.
“None of our offices are located within the Nevada State Democratic Party or any of their affiliate offices,” Kato told VICE News.
In New Hampshire, where the first official presidential primary of 2016 takes place, New Hampshire Democratic Party staffers rushed to join the Clinton campaign before the former Secretary of State even announced her campaign for the presidency. Mike Ollen, Gene Allen, and Liz Wester left their positions at the state party to join the Clinton campaign in early April 2015, according to WMUR.
3. Dismantling Bernie Sanders’ campaign over one staffer’s mistake
The most obvious example of DNC favoritism toward Hillary Clinton was Friday’s snafu that began with the Bernie Sanders’ campaign defending itself against allegations of cheating and ended with Sanders filing a federal lawsuit against the DNC and accusing the party of “sabotage” against his campaign infrastructure to help Hillary Clinton.
Events spiraled out of control just as quickly as they unfolded. Josh Uretsky, national data director for the Sanders campaign, admitted to improperly accessing Clinton’s campaign data during a 40-minute security breach within NGP VAN, the system all Democratic campaigns use to monitor voter patterns and conduct outreach. The DNC responded by shutting off the Sanders campaign’s access to the voter database, effectively crippling its ground strategy. Even after Sanders’ campaign manager fired Uretsky, the DNC initially refused to back down from its decision to take away the Sanders campaign’s infrastructure.
The move was unprecedented as a punishment for any campaign. Even Robert Reich, Bill Clinton’s former Secretary of Labor, started a petition calling for Sanders’ file to be reinstated. David Axelrod, former adviser to President Obama, equated the DNC’s punishment to “putting the finger on the scale” for Clinton.
4. DNC finance chair caught raising money for Clinton
The DNC operates under strict rules of remaining impartial during the primary process until the nominee has been selected. But one top DNC official was just caught raising money for the Clinton campaign. Henry R. Muñoz III, who used to be a top fundraiser for President Obama, became the chief of the Party’s finance operations in 2013. This past Summer, he was caught organizing a fundraiser for Clinton in San Antonio, Texas. This is a direct violation of DNC rules, which state:
“The Chairperson shall be responsible for ensuring that the national officers and staff of the Democratic National Committee maintain impartiality and even-handedness during the Democratic Party Presidential nominating process.”
Responsibility for this falls squarely on the shoulders of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who, as chair of the DNC, is responsible for enforcing party rules when they’re broken. The fact that she didn’t reprimand Muñoz may be due to the fact that she was Hillary Clinton’s campaign co-chair in 2008. Her favoritism toward Hillary Clinton was made even more apparent during the recent tiff with Bernie Sanders, when she said, “I guess that the Sanders campaign unfortunately doesn’t have anything other than bluster at the moment that they can put out there,” in a live TV interview.
5. The DNC lined up superdelegates for Clinton before first debate
The DNC has helped the Clinton campaign subvert the Democratic process by going around the vote and courting party bosses, also known as superdelegates, to preemptively win the nomination before all 50 states have held their primary election. Superdelegates are part of the nomination process, and they are typically DNC leaders and current and former elected officials ranging from governors to members of US Congress.
In August, before the first Democratic debate had taken place, the Clinton campaign reported that she had one-fifth of superdelegates already committed to backing her at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. According to Wikipedia, roughly half of the 700+ superdelegates have already committed to backing Hillary Clinton.
While the remainder of the delegate count will be decided as each state hosts its primary election, the early superdelegate committal to the Clinton campaign is highly suspect, as the commitments come months before the first primary voters cast their ballots.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz has not only abused the power of her office to stack the deck for her favored candidate, but has overwhelmingly failed as leader of the DNC. In addition to losing the 2014 midterm elections for both U.S. House and U.S. Senate seats, Schultz has also run her party’s finances into the ground.
“Since January 2013, the RNC has outraised the national Democrats by $65 million. Additionally, the RNC broke a third quarter fundraising record while the DNC owes $1.2 million more than it has in the bank. The DNC is essentially bankrupt heading into 2016 — an unprecedented position for a party that has controlled the White House for seven years.”
If the DNC wants Democratic voters to respect its authority and credibility, firing Debbie Wasserman Schultz is the obvious first step.