Donna Brazile, ex-CNN contributor and former interim chairman of the DNC, published an excerpt of her forthcoming book in Politico which makes the claim that the Clinton campaign and the DNC struck a deal that gave Clinton an “unethical” amount of control over the party prior to the nominating process. Brazile, who stepped down from her interim post in 2016 amid revelations that she had provided Clinton with CNN debate topics ahead of time, was recently named to the DNC’s Rules & Bylaws committee, which has sway over the party’s primary procedures.
The excerpt, from Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House, asserts that the DNC was in debt thanks to “Obama’s neglect” and former party chair Debbie Wasserman-Schulz’s poor fundraising skills, and alleges that because of this the DNC struck a deal in August 2015 with Robby Mook, Clinton’s former campaign manager, giving the Clinton primary campaign an unusual amount of control over the party apparatus in exchange for funding.
When I got back from a vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, I at last found the document that described it all: the Joint Fund-Raising Agreement between the DNC, the Hillary Victory Fund, and Hillary for America.
The agreement—signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and Robby Mook with a copy to Marc Elias—specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.
I had been wondering why it was that I couldn’t write a press release without passing it by Brooklyn. Well, here was the answer.
“The funding arrangement with HFA and the victory fund agreement was not illegal,” Brazile wrote, “but it sure looked unethical. If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead.”
The excerpt acknowledges that both candidates signed fundraising agreements with the party, but indicates that Clinton’s was different (Sanders also signed in 2015).
This particular excerpt does not mention Brazile’s own unethical dealings with the Clinton campaign (elsewhere, she has called sharing town hall topics with the Clinton campaign in advance “a mistake I will forever regret”), and it makes a number of self-aggrandizing retroactive claims, like that Brazile didn’t trust the polls that saw Clinton winning the election.
The excerpt also somewhat contradicts an essay she published in Time this past March, in which Brazile wrote that “the media narrative played out just as the Russians had hoped, leaving Sanders supporters understandably angry and sowing division in our ranks. In reality, not only was I not playing favorites,the more competitive and heated the primary got, the harder D.N.C. staff worked to be scrupulously fair and beyond reproach. In all the months the Russians monitored the D.N.C.’s email, they found just a handful of inappropriate emails, with no sign of anyone taking action to disadvantage the Sanders campaign.”
A DNC representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Jezebel.
UPDATE: In a statement, DNC communications director Xochitl Hinojosa responded to Brazile’s piece.
The DNC must remain neutral in the presidential primary process, and there shouldn’t even be a perception that the DNC is interfering in that process. Joint fundraising committees were created between the DNC and both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in attempt to raise the general election funds needed to win in 2016. Clinton was the only candidate who raised money for the party through her joint fundraising committee with the DNC, which would benefit any candidate coming out of the presidential primary process.
Under the new leadership, the DNC has signed a joint fundraising agreement with all 50 states and DC well ahead of the presidential primary process in order to support our state parties and win at the state, local and national level in 2017, 2018 and beyond. This is unprecedented. We are no longer a party that is only focused on electing Democrats every four years. We’re a party that elects Democrats every year and in every single zip code.