Bernie Sanders Sparks Democratic 'Civil War' -- Sanders Sues Democratic National Committee

Bernie Sanders' campaign has sued the Democratic National Committee. The legal action follows a questionable move by the party organization to prevent Bernie Sanders and his campaign from enjoying access to a crucial voter database, according to The Hill.

The legal action in the federal court triggered what is now being called a "civil war" in the Democratic Party, a party whose internal schisms have been thrown into sharp relief following the rise of "upstart" Bernie Sanders and his crowdfunded campaign, which relies not on big corporate donors but on the small donations of the millions of supporters Sanders promises to act for should he win the presidency.

NBC reports that the DNC is "punishing" Sanders for messing with Democratic establishment favorite Hillary Clinton, who was all but assured the candidacy until Sanders' campaign swept the country and the Brooklyn native and democratic socialist proved himself a serious contender for the presidency.

It is alleged that Sanders' staffers accessed sensitive information from Hillary Clinton's campaign held by the Democratic National Committee. Many are calling for Hillary to speak out against what they see as an excessively harsh punishment for a routine blunder.

Last Wednesday, Clinton's voter data became visible to others through a bug in code. The code originated with the technology company NGP VAN, who are being investigated.

The DNC alleges that staffers from Sanders' campaign took advantage of the breach -- they "viewed, downloaded and exported confidential data from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's voter file after they discovered a breach in the database, which is maintained by the committee and rented out to the campaigns," according to the Huffington Post.

The legality of using such an incident as an excuse to deny Sanders' campaign access to their own information is being questioned. Sanders' campaign manager Jeff Weaver spoke out, saying, "Rather incredibly, the leadership of the DNC has used this incident to shutdown our access to our own information. This is the lifeblood of our campaign."

Weaver accused the DNC of "actively attempting to undermine our campaign." He characterized the suspension as an "inappropriate overreaction."

"This is unacceptable."
Sanders' campaign insists that it did not retain any of the data it viewed. A petition to restore voter database access to Sanders' campaign is gathering signatures.
Sanders' supporters are urging him to run as an independent should this move by the DNC undermine his campaign and cost Sanders the nomination.
A Clinton staffer has spoken out accusing Sanders of running a dirty campaign and calling Sanders a "liar." Supporters of Sanders are taking to social media to note the irony of Hillary Clinton's camp condemning someone for "unethical" behavior.
"Individual leaders of the DNC can support Hillary Clinton in any way they want, but they are not going to sabotage our campaign -- one of the strongest grassroots campaigns in modern history."
Sanders' lawsuit, and the investigations tied to it, have allowed for some interesting information about the Sanders campaign to surface. For example, it has been revealed that over three days in December, Sanders' people managed to raise more than $2.4 million. Sanders' staffers stress that they were able to do this through the magic of the voter database that has now been denied to them.
"Most of this money came from individual donors identified through, inter alia, the strategic use of Voter Data."
Tensions in the DNC have now erupted after months of minor scuffling between the DNC, Sanders supporters, and supporters of long-shot candidate Martin O'Malley, who regard one another with suspicion. The eruption comes just before the Democratic party's final presidential debate for 2015, which will air on Saturday night.

(Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)