The 2016 Democratic Primaries Were Rigged


Analysis by Reporting San Diego

Nov 4, 2017 (San Diego) Dona Brazille took over from Debbie Wasserman Shultz in the midst of the 2016 political season. This was after the emails were leaked and there was a front page story on the Washington Post. Some of the things that she details in a Politico piece, which is an except from her book, were known. Many political reporters and junkies have read these stories over the course of the last almost three years. However, she did put all of the sundry affair into a coherent piece. 

The Politico piece is a must read, if you are a political junkie. It will confirm a lot of your suspicions. the 2016 Democratic Party engaged in the kind of nasty backroom politics not seen in a long time and essentially rigged the primary in favor of Hillary Clinton. 

The piece slams both Clinton and Shultz. It confirms the suspicions that many of Bernie Sanders supporters had over the course of the campaign. We called it in the past a Dedazo, since we were reminded fully, of the games played by the PRI in Mexican politics. We had a destape and a dedazo in 2016. Barack Obama chose his successor, and he did all he could to ensure she would come out of the primaries the winner. This is the way Mexican politics works. The sitting president chooses his successor, in what is called the destape. Over the last two years of a presidential term, there is guessing as to whom are the favorites as well. In the United States, starting in 2012, we had hints of this. Clinton, in spite of scandals and faux scandals, was always favored by the siting president. 
I will add, a lot of this information was known before, why there were suspicions. In August 2015 the Democratic National Committee announced a fundraising agreement with the Clinton Campaign. Politico reported back then that:

The document will enable the DNC and the campaign to conduct events and other fundraising activities together that will generate money for both entities. Clinton wouldn’t have access to the money unless and until she’s the nominee — but this is seen as an essential step for banking cash to counter what’s expected to be massive Republican spending next year.

So far so good. That was a standard, run of the mill, agreement, we were all led to believe. However, that is not what was happening. Some of this emerged in the DCN hacked emails later on. Brazile wrote this in the piece in Politico, a selection of her upcoming book. 

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.

We know that Democrats have lost over 1000 legislatives seats at both the state and federal level since 2010. This is a fact that few will argue. What none of us realized was the role of the former president in this. The president is the head of the party while in office. This is well known, and it is traditional. Why one presidential privilege is to chose the chair of the party. Shultz was Obama’s idea. 

After 2012 Obama was still in debt to the party and to vendors. This is not that unusual. Campaign debts do take time to retire. But since Clinton retired the outstanding debt, Obama owned her greatly. He was able to leave the White House with that retired.

Brazile learned that they were going though money like it was water. They were spending anywhere from $3.5 to $4 million a month. One reason, she writes, is that the DNC did not shrink the party apparatus between Presidential elections, Those people need to be paid, Consultants are never cheap. These are the same consultants that did not bring any real benefits to the party at the ballot box. Why they were kept after losing election after election is a mystery to many of us. 

What is even more critical is that the agreement between the DNC and Clinton in 2015 allowed her operation to take control of the party, and the victory fund. This was unprecedented. 

We found in early May from the emails that the party essentially was using the money raised to support Clinton. This left very little for state party level operations, however 

Politico wrote back then:

But less than 1 percent of the $61 million raised by that effort has stayed in the state parties’ coffers, according to a POLITICO analysis of the latest Federal Election Commission filings.
The venture, the Hillary Victory Fund, is a so-called joint fundraising committee comprised of Clinton’s presidential campaign, the Democratic National Committee and 32 state party committees. The setup allows Clinton to solicit checks of $350,000 or more from her super-rich supporters at extravagant fundraisers including a dinner at George Clooney’s house and a concert at Radio City Music Hall featuring Katy Perry and Elton John.
 The victory fund has transferred $3.8 million to the state parties, but almost all of that cash ($3.3 million, or 88 percent) was quickly transferred to the DNC, usually within a day or two, by the Clinton staffer who controls the committee, POLITICO’s analysis of the FEC records found.
 By contrast, the victory fund has transferred $15.4 million to Clinton’s campaign and $5.7 million to the DNC, which will work closely with Clinton’s campaign if and when she becomes the party’s nominee. And most of the $23.3 million spent directly by the victory fund has gone toward expenses that appear to have directly benefited Clinton’s campaign, including $2.8 million for “salary and overhead” and $8.6 million for web advertising that mostly looks indistinguishable from Clinton campaign ads and that has helped Clinton build a network of small donors who will be critical in a general election expected to cost each side well in excess of $1 billion.

Brazile‘ s revelations were ignored by most Clinton partisans over the course of the campaign. For supporters of Bernie Sanders this writing wasa confirmation of what they have suspected happened. It is worst though than just putting the fingers on the scale. In the words of Senator Elizabeth Warren, the election was rigged. 

We are not going to go into the legal aspects of this. There may be room for an investigation, and given the few teeth the Federal Electoral Commision has, best case somebody will get a slap in the wrist. The political consequences are different, however. 

This can be seen in the response of state parties that were not amused by the revelations. However, Tom Perez, who is part of the Clinton wing of the party, has done all he can to keep control of the party in that right of center conservative wing. They have purged the progressives from leadership posts. 
The intra party civil war will continue to fester until there is clarity. What does the party want? And here is the question that has not been asked by most of the media. How many millennials who voted for Sanders, in some ways volunteered for Sanders and gave money to Sanders, will continue to vote for Democrats. Perhaps at the local level, especially since state parties are coming out with strong statements. For example, California’s Democrats said in a news release:

“The news we received today about the Democratic National Committee’s conduct in the run-up to the 2016 primary campaign was incredibly frustrating and terribly disheartening. The DNC is obligated to be neutral and above-board when it comes to dealing fairly with all Democratic candidates because the DNC is supposed to represent our entire party, not any one candidate. Instead of living up to that obligation to all of us who proudly call ourselves progressive Grassroots Democrats, the DNC chose to engage in the same kind of insider-dealing Beltway elitism that has driven so many people from the Democratic Party, and cost us too many elections in the process—including, tragically, the 2016 presidential election.”

CADEM has its own issues, when it comes to protecting their own establishment, but they were not alone. Other state parties were far from pleased. 
But that question about the vote from people who were just getting engaged with the system remains? How many of them will cynically stay home now? It is not an idle question,. The national party, while stubbornly denying the future, has done major damage to a future generation of voters. 
It is not just younger voters, There were many older Americans who also were disgusted by the actions of the DNC and continue to be angry. 
The proof is in the pudding. The party has lost over 1000 legislative seats in both the states and the federal level starting in 2010. It is obvious that something is wrong, and likely it is the fact that center right Democrats are sensible centrist who will not budge to facts. The country wants change from where we find ourselves. Politics, as currently practiced by Democrats (and Republicans alike), works for the top 10 percent of earners. The rest of the country has been left behind. That is the reality, not limited to the United States either. 
Tragically the DNC is ignoring what is happening both within his party, and at the state parties. The talking point, which jelled very fast, is “we’re moving forward.” 
The national party still refuses to face facts. This does not speak well for Democratic prospects in 2018 or 2020.

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