Hillary Clinton’s campaign gained significant control over the Democratic National Committee’s finances and strategy more than a year before the election in exchange for helping the party retire lingering debt from the 2012 presidential campaign, according to a new book by a former party chairwoman.
The disclosure comes from an excerpt of Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House, published in Politico magazine, by Donna Brazile, who took over as party chairperson in July 2016 in the wake of hacked emails showing that many DNC staffers were openly rooting for Clinton in the primary. Brazile says that when she took over as interim chair, she set about trying to untangle the financial web that had grown up around the campaign.
She says what she learned was that the DNC had made a deal with Clinton’s people in August 2015 to clear up the party’s debts.
“This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity,” Brazile writes in the book due out next week.
Brazile, a former campaign manager for Al Gore and adviser to President Bill Clinton, stepped in as interim head of the DNC after Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., was forced out over the email controversy on the eve of the party’s convention.
“As Hillary’s campaign gained momentum, she resolved the party’s debt and put it on a starvation diet. It had become dependent on her campaign for survival, for which she expected to wield control of its operations,” Brazile writes.
In a phone call she placed to Gary Gensler, the chief financial officer of Clinton’s campaign, just after the party’s convention in July, “He described the party as fully under the control of Hillary’s campaign, which seemed to confirm the suspicions of the [Vermont Sen.] Bernie [Sanders] 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,” she adds.
The Washington Post writes:
“Charlie Baker, the chief operating officer of the Clinton campaign, said that in 2015 the campaign agreed to raise money for the parts of the DNC that were going to be most crucial to the general election, including data, research, communications and the like. The agreement also gave the Clinton campaign some say over personnel. If there was a vacancy for a position in one of these departments, the DNC had to consult the campaign on the three finalists but could make the final decision itself.
‘We never tried to be presumptuous,’ Baker said. ‘We were literally trying to make sure the DNC had the resources it needed, whoever was the nominee.’ “
Brazile’s account appears to contradict the DNC’s repeated assertions that it wasn’t favoring Clinton over Sanders and it bolsters charges from the Sanders camp that the primary itself was “rigged.”
During the campaign, Sanders had repeatedly charged that the DNC was working in league with the Clinton campaign to ensure her victory in the primary.
“The idea that the DNC was willing to take a position that helped a candidate in the midst of a primary is outrageous, and there is no justification for it,” Mark Longabaugh, a senior adviser to the Sanders campaign, was quoted in the Post as saying.
After the excerpt of Brazile’s book was published on Thursday, Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren called the revelations a “real problem” and said the party needs to be held accountable.