A joint fundraising agreement between the Bernie Sanders campaign and the Democratic National Committee — obtained Friday by ABC News and signed at the start of the primary campaign for the 2016 presidential election — does not include any language about coordinating on strategic decisions over hiring or budget, unlike a fundraising memo between the Hillary Clinton team and the DNC.
Former Sanders staff members argue that the Sanders-DNC agreement refutes the claim by the DNC that the two campaigns were offered similar treatment by the party. What’s more, the Sanders team posits that the joint fundraising agreement they signed with the party was never acted on.
Donna Brazile’s bombshell tell-all could inspire DNC reforms
“The purpose of the joint fundraising activity is to receive contributions to fund the Committees’ activities, including the support of candidates seeking election to office,” reads the Sanders-DNC document.
Under Allocation Formula, the document reads, “Contributions from individuals will be allocated as follows: the first $2,700 will be allocated to Bernie 2016 and designated for the primary election. The next $33,400 of a contribution will be allocated to the Democratic National Committee.”
As ABC News reported Friday, the Clinton-DNC agreement returned to the political spotlight this past week when an excerpt from former interim Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile’s book, “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that put Donald Trump in the White House,” was published in Politico magazine.
Brazile, a former ABC News political contributor, writes she was shocked when she heard that the Clinton campaign had entered into a joint fundraising agreement with the DNC long before it was clear that Clinton would be the party’s nominee.
“The funding arrangement with [Hillary for America] and the victory fund agreement was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical,” Brazile writes. “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.”
In light of the revelation by Brazile, multiple sources have confirmed to ABC News that DNC chair Tom Perez wrote a note to the members of the party Friday, in which he defended the conduct of previous party leadership and stood by the party’s impartiality. “Our understanding was that the DNC offered all of the presidential campaigns the opportunity to set up a [joint-funding agreement] and work with the DNC to coordinate on how those funds were used to best prepare for the general election. Since then, both of those joint fundraising committees have been shut down,” he wrote.
ABC News also reached out to the DNC for additional comment.
However, the Clinton campaign Friday afternoon confirmed the existence of a memo between the DNC and their campaign, which specifically outlines an expanded scope and interpretation of their funding agreement. In that memo, Hillary for America (HFA) reportedly agreed to help the DNC raise money and clear its debts, and in exchange, the party consented “HFA personnel will be consulted and have joint authority over strategic decisions over the staffing, budget, expenditures, and general election related communications, data, technology, analytics, and research.”
Democratic operatives dispute if the legal language in the memo specifically show whether the Clinton team and the DNC were able to work together during the primary or simply the general election. Either way, representatives from Sanders’ former campaign say they only signed a basic, formulaic fundraising agreement that did not include any additional language about joint messaging or staffing decision-making.
Former Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver told ABC News Friday night that the campaign entered the agreement with the party in November 2015 to facilitate the campaign’s access to the party’s voter rolls. Weaver claims the DNC offered to credit any fundraising the senator did for the party against the costs of access to the party’s data costs, priced at $250,000. But, Weaver continued, the party did not follow up about fundraising appearances for the independent senator.
Weaver backed up part of Brazile’s story, featured in the book excerpt. Brazile said she contacted the Sandera campaign when she took the helm of the party before the national convention last summer and lamented to them that she had learned just how deep the ties between the party and Clinton team ran. Weaver said he remembered Brazile coming to him at the time and, according to Weaver, she said told him, “If I had known the control they have over everything, I never would have come [to the post at the party.]”
DNC Vice Chairman Keith Ellison wrote Friday that Brazile’s account should not be dismissed. “We must heed the call for our party to enact real reforms that ensure a fair, open, and impartial nominating process in elections to come,” he wrote in a statement.
Weaver, who currently sits on a new unity commission charged with suggesting reforms for the party, said he was surprised that the newly-elected leadership at the party was not taking a more proactive stance to dealing with the old wounds.
“A real executive would say, ‘This was a terrible thing that went on, we are cleaning it up,'” Weaver said. “[Tom] Perez isn’t tied to this why is he defending this? It’s ridiculous.”
Brazile is set to appear on ABC’s this Sunday to discuss her new book.