If DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz wanted to cripple the Bernie Sanders campaign, she failed miserably. The backlash against the Democratic National Committee for suspending the Sanders campaign’s access to its own files was swift, efficient, and aggressive. It illustrated how well Bernie Sanders wins fights against bullies: He plays a clean game, but when push comes to shove, he can and will use the tools he has at his disposal to fight back.
A quote by Mahatma Gandhi, another man who fought peaceful battles, applies here.
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, accused DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of trying to sabotage the Sanders campaign. during an interview with MSNBC Friday night, Weaver was blunt in his assessment of the situation. He held up his phone to show an email he’d sent the DNC on late Friday afternoon to show he had, indeed, been in contact with them.
“…what the chairwoman said was absolutely false. We have responded with information. If they wanted additional information they certainly should have let us know.”
He expressed frustration at the DNC, for in his words he had been “trying to negotiate with them” after submitting their initial information about the data breach. He received no response, which is why, he explained, they filed the lawsuit which sought $600,000 per day the campaign was locked out. Weaver was confident even then that the lawsuit would succeed.
“In the process of this lawsuit using legal discovery we will get access to all of the internal communications of the DNC or we can demonstrate what I think most people think is going on, which is that there are some people in there who are clearly trying to help the Clinton campaign.”
He criticized Debbie Wasserman-Schultz specifically, comparing the data breach to the DNC chairwoman walking past Sanders campaign staffers’ desks and “throwing files of Clinton material” on their desks.
Just a few hours after Weaver mentioned “legal discovery,” the DNC backed down and tried to spin their story into their favor while restoring Bernie Sanders’ access to his own files.
The Bernie Sanders campaign had notified the DNC of this type of breach on more than one occasion, and the problem wasn’t fixed.
Not only that, but on Reddit again, a user who identified himself as a 2008 Obama campaign staffer claimed data breaches were commonplace but not worth much strategically. u/DarkHater claimed that the DNC was creating a false controversy.
“Any data they pulled would not have been that useful, especially considering both campaigns use the VAN. They couldn’t just turn around and re-enter the Clinton supporters as 5’s, etc. That’s not how it works.”
“The breach is a non-issue, however, how it is being handled by the DNC… is the telling issue about how undemocratic the Democratic National Party has become.”
Another detail of note is how this suspension came on the heels of several major endorsements. The 700,000-strong Communication Workers’ Union and the progressive organization Democracy for America both endorsed Sanders as the best candidate for president. Bernie Sanders’ landmark achievement of 2 million individual contributions was also announced just prior to the suspension.
Prior to the DNC lockout, the Sanders campaign raised more than $3 million in one week alone. According to a report in USA Today, he raised $26.2 million from July to September, all on small donations, whereas Hillary Clinton raised $29.9 million during the same period, but with the help of large donations and her SuperPACs.
On Reddit Friday, the r/SandersForPresident subreddit was a flurry of activity. On multiple threads, supporters came out of the woodwork to show their support for Bernie Sanders by declaring they’d donated to his campaign in protest of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and the DNC. At one point Friday evening, that subreddit alone had donated more than $45,000 in one day.
A Sanders campaign staffer is accused of inappropriately accessing Hillary Clinton’s data files when a firewall went down, exposing that data to other campaigns. The software glitch exposed all of the campaigns, including Bernie’s, which means the Clinton campaign could also view Sanders’ information.
This begs the question of why Bernie Sanders was punished when his information was also vulnerable and viewable to Clinton.
Josh Uretsky, the data manager who was fired, explained his actions to MSNBC. In verifying the breach, he purposefully left a trail that the DNC and NGP VAN (the software vendor) could see and then notified them of that breach. He told CNN that he and his IT staff had discovered the glitch on Wednesday morning and “probed the system” to discover how much of the Sanders’ campaign information was also exposed.
The software in question is proprietary, owned by NGP VAN. Bernie Sanders’ campaign claims that the software vendor exposed voter data on several occasions, exposing all Democratic candidates’ data, not just Clinton’s.
Since access has been restored by the DNC, interest in Saturday’s debate has soared. Whereas Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Hillary Clinton were hoping no one would watch, this debacle has had the opposite effect. They poked the bear. And the bear is winning.
Watch the debate on ABC and live streamed at 7 p.m. CST.
[Photo: Chip Somodovilla/Getty Images]