Before I called Bernie Sanders, I lit a candle in my living room and put on some gospel music. I wanted to center myself for what I knew would be an emotional phone call.
I had promised Bernie when I took the helm of the Democratic National Committee after the convention that I would get to the bottom of whether Hillary Clinton’s team had rigged the nomination process, as a cache of emails stolen by Russian hackers and posted online had suggested. I’d had my suspicions from the moment I walked in the door of the DNC a month or so earlier, based on the leaked emails. But who knew if some of them might have been forged? I needed to have solid proof, and so did Bernie.
So I followed the money. My predecessor, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, had not been the most active chair in fundraising at a time when President Barack Obama’s neglect had left the party in significant debt. 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.
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.
“What?” I screamed. “I am an officer of the party and they’ve been telling us everything is fine and they were raising money with no problems.”
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.
If I didn’t know about this, I assumed that none of the other officers knew about it, either. That was just Debbie’s way. In my experience she didn’t come to the officers of the DNC for advice and counsel. She seemed to make decisions on her own and let us know at the last minute what she had decided, as she had done when she told us about the hacking only minutes before the Washington Post broke the news.
Brazile goes on to say that not only did Clinton campaign assume the DNC's debt and pay it off, but that Clinton strategist Robby Mook had reached an agreement with Debbie Wasserman Schultz that Clinton would be calling the shots in the party from then on.
“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.
“That was the deal that Robby struck with Debbie,” he explained, referring to campaign manager Robby Mook. “It was to sustain the DNC. We sent the party nearly $20 million from September until the convention, and more to prepare for the election.”
It's not a pretty sight at all, although the fact that the Clinton campaign was paying off the DNC's debt was again broken by the Washington Post more than a year ago. The Bernie folks long accused Clinton of rigging the party's committees to help Clinton, but the problem is joint fundraising agreements have been used by both parties for years.
It also means that the money Bernie did take from the DNC, well...80% came from Hillary.
Think about that.
The fact remains Bernie was crushed in the primaries, especially in the South and West Coast. But I guarantee you that this is going to be used to deal more damage to the DNC and further rip it apart ahead of 2018.
It's shooting yourself in foot badly enough that you bleed out.
Reality though remains Trump has this country in a pit, and fighting over the DNC's finances isn't going to fix Trump at all.
Sure as hell will distract from it. And that's exactly what Brazile did. She threw a pipe bomb in a china shop and the DNC just got blown to bits. Where do Dems go in 2018? I don't know, but they won't get help from the DNC. How Perez and Ellison remain on the job after this mess, why would they want to? Was this Brazile's plan all along, to just burn it all down in order to sell a damn book?
Unless Trump stumbles so badly the Dems win in spite of this mess (which can still definitely happen) 2018 might be a lost cause after this, and it's pissing me off. For Brazile to do this days before the 2017 elections in Virginia and New Jersey is irresponsible as hell.
We'll see what happens, but this, as they say, is why Dems keep losing, and deserve to keep losing.