Brazile saw Obama debt, Clin­ton con­trol at DNC

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY DAVE BOYER

Former Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee Chair­woman Donna Brazile says President Obama dec­i­mated the party’s fi­nances to win re-elec­tion in 2012 and that Hil­lary Clin­ton’s cam­paign took con­trol of the DNC long be­fore she de­feated Sen. Bernard San­ders for the party’s pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion last year.

In rev­e­la­tions from her up­com­ing book that are roil­ing an in­creas­ingly di­vided Demo­cratic Party, Ms. Brazile said she was shocked at the sorry con­di­tion of the DNC’s fi­nances when she took over in July 2016 for em­bat­tled Chair­woman Deb­bie Wasser­man Schultz, who she said was “not a good man­ager.”

Ms. Brazile de­scribed a phone call she had with Gary Gensler, the chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer of Mrs. Clin­ton’s cam­paign, on the morn­ing af­ter the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion ended in late July 2016.

“He told me the Demo­cratic Party was broke and $2 mil­lion in debt,” Ms. Brazile wrote. “‘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.”

Also Thurs­day, the DNC dis­missed its top fundraiser af­ter five months on the job amid the party’s weak fundrais­ing ef­forts. Fi­nance direc­tor Emily Mel­len­camp Smith was let go in a shake-up.

The party had only $7 mil­lion on hand by the end of Septem­ber. The DNC raised $51 mil­lion since Jan­uary, but the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee raised $104 mil­lion over the same pe­riod.

Dur­ing eight years un­der Mr. Obama, Democrats lost more than 1,000 state and fed­eral posts na­tion­wide, in­clud­ing con­gres­sional and state leg­isla­tive seats and gov­er­nor­ships. Not as well-known was that Mr. Obama also left his party’s fi­nances deep in the red.

“Of­fi­cials from Hil­lary’s cam­paign had taken a look at the DNC’s books,” Ms. Brazile said. “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.”

The man­ager of Al Gore’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign in 2000 also de­scribed her shock at dis­cov­er­ing a writ­ten agree­ment that proved what Mr. San­ders had been claim­ing — that the DNC was in the tank for Mrs. Clin­ton long be­fore pri­mary vot­ing ended.

The joint fundrais­ing agree­ment among the DNC, the Hil­lary Vic­tory Fund and Hil­lary for Amer­ica was signed by DNC of­fi­cial Amy Dacey and Clin­ton cam­paign man­ager Robby Mook.

The agree­ment “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,” Ms. Brazile said. “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.”

The Clin­ton-DNC pact al­lowed donors who had maxed out their $2,700 in­di­vid­ual con­tri­bu­tion limit to write another check of up to $353,400 to Mrs. Clin­ton’s PAC. Of that, $10,000 would be given to the 32 state par­ties that were part of the agree­ment, for a to­tal of $320,000.

The states then fun­neled the re­main­ing $33,400 to the DNC.

“The fund­ing ar­range­ment with HFA and the vic­tory fund agree­ment was not il­le­gal, but it sure looked un­eth­i­cal,” Ms. Brazile wrote. “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. This was not a crim­i­nal act, but as I saw it, it com­pro­mised the party’s in­tegrity.”

The agree­ment was signed in Au­gust 2015, just four months af­ter Mrs. Clin­ton an­nounced her can­di­dacy and al­most a year be­fore she se­cured the party’s nom­i­na­tion.

Ms. Brazile said, “I had been won­der­ing why it was that I couldn’t write a press re­lease with­out pass­ing it by Brook­lyn [site of Clin­ton cam­paign head­quar­ters]. Well, here was the an­swer.”

The re­sult was the Clin­ton cam­paign con­trolled the vast bulk of the party money and doled out small shares to the DNC to keep it afloat. Mr. Gensler told Ms. Brazile that the Clin­ton cam­paign “had to do it or the party would col­lapse.”

Ms. Brazile’s rev­e­la­tions pro­duced a cho­rus of I-told-you-so’s from the Demo­cratic Party’s grass roots and raised calls to end what many con­sider a “rigged game” of su­perdel­e­gates con­trolled by the party es­tab­lish­ment.

Asked by CNN’s Jake Tap­per whether the Demo­cratic pri­mary was rigged, Sen. El­iz­a­beth War­ren, Mas­sachusetts Demo­crat, said sim­ply, “Yes.”

“Tom Perez, the cur­rent DNC Chair, just de­moted sup­port­ers of Se­na­tor Bernie San­ders and Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Keith El­li­son, in­clud­ing Our Rev­o­lu­tion Board Mem­ber Dr. Jim Zogby, the only Arab Amer­i­can, from the Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee,” Mrs. Turner said. “The DNC’s pref­er­ence for large cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions over our rev­o­lu­tion­ary model of small-dol­lar do­na­tions goes against ev­ery­thing a grass­roots or­ga­ni­za­tion is sup­posed to be about. Pro­gres­sives, in­de­pen­dents, and a grow­ing num­ber of Democrats feel that the party no longer works for them. That has to change.”

Sally Per­sons con­trib­uted to this re­port.

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