Since Friday, December 18, the Bernie Sanders campaign has called for an independent investigation of a data breach that jeopardized his campaign and resulted in the termination of his national data director, Josh Uretsky.
The breach was the result of a possible glitch in the software, allowing all Democratic campaigns limited access to opponents’ voter data. The DNC, however, is refusing to cooperate, effectively blocking any such investigation from happening. Despite reaching a deal with the DNC to restore his data access, the lawsuit continues amid concerns of security and whispers of conspiracy.
Perhaps Democratic National Committee head Debbie Wasserman-Schultz wants to give her favorite candidate, Hillary Clinton, an edge in the primary race. The move to suspend Bernie Sanders’s access to campaign data, however, only served to propel the Bernie Sanders campaign into a bigger limelight and energize his supporters.
As more facts emerge surrounding this case, the more questions come up that demand answers, and members of Bernie Sanders’s campaign have stopped just short of calling the accusations of foul play against the Vermont senator a set-up.
During an interview with Yahoo News, a Bernie Sanders campaign adviser indicated the lawsuit is an attempt to get answers about the data breach, which occurred on Wednesday, Dec. 16, but that the Wasserman-Schultz is not cooperating.
“We have demanded a full investigation from top to bottom.”
The anonymous adviser, who spoke with Yahoo News, implied that Uretsky may have been a plant for the DNC and Hillary Clinton. However, there is no proof that this is the case and could actually be false information. The adviser claims that Uretsky came highly recommended by NGP VAN and the DNC.
“It’s not as if we conjured this guy Josh from thin air. This is an individual…who was recommended to us by the DNC and NGP VAN.”
The Bernie Sanders campaign adviser followed with information that one of Uretsky’s references was Andrew Brown, the DNC’s National Data Director. Bryan Whitaker also recommended Uretsky to the Bernie Sanders campaign. Up until August, Whitaker was the COO of NGP VAN.
All that being said, even the Yahoo News story concedes that the “world of progressive political consulting” is a small one, with people working together from all different campaigns and networks at one time or another.
Rarely mentioned in corporate news is how swiftly the DNC punished the Bernie Sanders campaign for the data breach. Sanders’s team released a copy of the lawsuit which outlines the contract. On page four of the lawsuit, one of the facts of the case lists termination agreements.
“Either party may terminate this Agreement in the event that the other party breaches this Agreement; the non-breaching party sends written notice to the breaching party describing the breach; and the breaching party does not cure the breach to the satisfaction of the non-breaching party within ten (10) calendar days following its receipt of such notice.”
Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and the DNC breached the contract by suspending Bernie Sanders’s campaign from access to voter data without giving them the necessary 10 days to remedy the problem. According to points 14 and 15 in the lawsuit, the contract between the campaign and the DNC does not permit suspensions of access without notice, nor does it permit termination or suspension without allowing the offending party to resolve any issues.
During the pre-debate show, Democratic National Committee vice-chair Donna Brazile accused a Bernie Sanders campaign staffer of attempting to destroy Hillary Clinton’s voter data. Not even NGP VAN made such an allegation in its blog post regarding the issue, which renders Brazile’s statement a head scratcher.
Also at issue is why Hillary Clinton received the data logs in the first place. Clinton maintains the software provider sent her campaign the information regarding the leaks, but NGP VAN denies this, saying Clinton must have received the logs from the DNC.
Why was Clinton given this information but Bernie’s campaign was not? Without such information Sanders was unable to fully address the accusations.
Sanders tapped into Clinton' database, but why is no one asking if Clinton tapped Bernie's?
— Reno Berkeley (@RenoBerkeley) December 20, 2015
The Bernie Sanders campaign has not officially accused anyone of conspiracy, with the exception of the anonymous adviser who spoke with Yahoo News. Yet in the interest of entertaining this theory, we can look at some facts unrelated to the lawsuit.
- Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, was Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign co-chair.
- Nathanial Pearlman, the co-founder of NGP VAN, was Hillary Clinton’s chief technology offer for her 2008 run.
- NGP VAN Stu Trevelyan has a long history with the Clintons. He worked on the 1992 Clinton campaign. In June 2014, Trevelyan tweeted a photo of himself with staff members in front of a “Ready for Hillary” bus with the logo “Powered by NGP VAN” above the windshield.
Do these facts alone indicate a conspiracy to ruin Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the Democratic nomination? Maybe, and maybe not. It’s easy to jump to conclusions when tallying up the different factors that make it appear the DNC is actively trying to sabotage his campaign. And Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s stonewalling the investigation into the breach certainly doesn’t help, either.
In the meantime, the best course of action for Bernie Sanders supporters to take is to refrain from accusations of sabotage and conspiracy until the lawsuit reveals more information.
[Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty]