Donna Brazile Spills the DNC Tea?

This is the article that is causing yesterday’s and today’s DNC buzz — Inside Hillary Clinton’s Secret Takeover of the DNC.  This is supposed to be a chapter from her new book.  It is an interesting read, clearly meant to communicate a major exposé.  The prep for the Bernie Sanders call, the money revelations, the secret Hillary takeover in exchange for money to bail out the DNC.  But I’m not so certain of how much tea is really being spilled here.  There’s alot here that doesn’t quite add up or is just old news buffed up to be part of what is clearly meant to be a blockbuster book:

Brazile was an officer of the DNC before she became Interim Chair.  She was a Vice Chair.  How do you NOT know how your organization is getting its funds on a regular basis?  How do you not ask?  Funding is pretty critical at the DNC and even the monthly or quarterly announcements of fundraising are treated as its own horse race, so where was she all of this time?

It also wasn’t real news that Hillary was raising funds for the DNC and that Bernie was not.  This article is from April 2016 — while Brazile was a DNC Vice Chair.

If Hillary *was* indeed running the DNC during the primaries, who decided that Donna Brazile would be Interim Chair?

Wikileaks posted a copy of the Clinton JFA in October 2016, but the WaPo reported on the JFA in 2015Bernie also signed a JFA with the DNC in 2015, but never used it.  Why?  Likely because those JFAs are more about exercising a fundraising loophole — letting donors write way bigger checks and skimming off some for states.  Bernie wasn’t asking for that kind of money yet and probably had not made a decision as to whether or not to help fundraise for states.  It took until 2016 for Bernie to object to the JFA and the opportunity that Clinton took to get the much bigger checks (and for Clinton to raise money for the states).

But wait, there’s more!  In early June 2016, CNN notes that Hillary filed a new JFA to let her raise money for the convention and the general election.  Is it possible that Brazile looked at the last JFA (the one that you would expect to give her control of key functions of the DNC) and never looked at ones for the primary?  I don’t know — but it is odd that with almost a year of regular reporting on these JFAs that suddenly Brazile is shocked to find one that gives Hillary control of the DNC.  We won’t know unless the DNC actually releases the officially executed one from 2015 or someone can get the original filings.  Or maybe the 2016 deal is an amendment to the 2015 deal. Who knows.  But it is beyond strange that Brazile would hang so much drama on some secret JFA, when the media pretty regularly reported on the existence of these agreements as campaign milestones.

But then there’s this directly from Brazile’s chapter:

I had tried to search out any other evidence of internal corruption that would show that the DNC was rigging the system to throw the primary to Hillary, but I could not find any in party affairs or among the staff. I had gone department by department, investigating individual conduct for evidence of skewed decisions, and I was happy to see that I had found none. Then I found this agreement.

So she finds an agreement that gives Hillary control of the DNC (assuming she means since 2015 when the Clinton Campaign signed it), but she can’t find ANY EVIDENCE supporting any claim that the DNC undermined Bernie specifically.  Hillary was running the DNC according to Brazile, but even her own investigation showed that Hillary did not try to kneecap Bernie during the primaries.

Now what?

One of the biggest things that annoys me from critics of the Democratic Party is just how little they know about what the DNC (even the RNC for that matter) does.  Their job is supporting Party building (this is the state level stuff and voter files), supporting Presidential GOTV operations, running a nomination process, running the Convention — and since Citizen’s United at least — a fundraising vector.  A loophole Super Pac.  And this PAC has increasingly been its prime directive.  They choose no candidates, they count no votes, they run no primaries.  If they are supporting specific down-ballot candidates, that is usually in conjunction with the DSCC or DCCC.  The DNC is nowhere near as powerful as its critics like to believe.  The DNC has huge functionality problems and I’d bet A LOT of money that if you polled boots on the ground party activists they’d tell you that what they want from the DNC is better voterfile technology and better support at the boots on the ground level.  I’m sure that they would also tell you that they wish that Party electeds (starting with Presidents when Dems are in power) would be way more interested in real Party building.  Bill Clinton didn’t care much about the DNC and neither did Obama.  Letting your party lose its prime directive (voter engagement) in favor of loophole fundraising means that the Party didn’t have the resources to push back on the massive march towards GOP gerrymandering.

Clinton and Brazile left the DNC in the black though.  And that was partly due to the fact that as early as 2015, Hillary Clinton was fundraising for her campaign, for the DNC AND for a Victory Fund that couldn’t be accessed until after the primaries were done.  (And it is also because Brazile decided that the DNC would not be left in debt as Obama did for two cycles.)  Bernie Sanders did fundraising for himself and did not help the DNC or down ballot candidates.  Which was his choice, but the person who took on the stretch fundraising goals is the person who is getting vilified here on pretty thin evidence.  And for not much reason other than that is the kneejerk response.  I’ve been amusing myself thinking of the reactions if Bernie had won and the DNC didn’t have enough money to get its work done through the General.  That would have been the DNC’s and Hillary’s fault too.

It has also been amusing to watch all of the people who vilified Brazile for handing over CNN debate questions to Hillary (she’s in the tank for Hillary!!!) now think she’s a righteous truth-teller.

But at the end of the day, letting the DNC focus on money rather than voters has clearly damaged the party.  From the notes and info I saw from the DNC Fall meeting, it looks from here that Perez wants to change that.  At least making organizing and voter engagement as much of a priority as the fundraising.  I hope that he’s successful at that.  But in the meantime, I’m pretty certain that there isn’t so much DNC collusion as there is an ex-Interim Chair whose Party star is dimming fast who needs to sell a book.




You don't make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas. -- Shirley Chisolm

30 comments on “Donna Brazile Spills the DNC Tea?

  1. All of this (as you’ve pointed out) was reported at the time. This isn’t new information. Brazile wants to sell books. Fine. What’s not fine is that she’s found an audience who wasn’t paying attention and is treating her words as revelations.

    • cassandram

      Right. But notice that the really big item is that Brazile herself says there was no funny business — because she searched for it! — while Hillary was supposed to be in control of the DNC. It should directly shut down the persistent Bernie victimhood and yet, here they are. Making bank on someone they roundly disparaged months back.

  2. RE Vanella

    This reminds me of the argument gun fetishists employ against gun control supporters. If you don’t know the difference between semi-automatic and full automatic or don’t know a “silencer” is really just a suppressor than your argument doesn’t matter.

    It’s like the “good police” running interference for the “bad apples”. I fail to understand why, after enduring failure after failure, one would continue in this manner.


    • cassandram

      This reminds me of the argument that climate change deniers employ against pretty much everyone. I can’t be bothered to educate myself, pay attention to the news or even pay attention to my increasing insurance bills. It is all just a conspiracy because I Say So.

      Keep hope alive.

  3. RE Vanella

    Haha! You guys are the absolute best. Very successful and smart. Way smarter than me.

    • notice it took them 24 hours to get their stories in line.
      Do either of you have the same venom for Bernie Bro, Elizabeth Warren? Seems like she wasnt paying attention either?

      • Venom?

      • cassandram

        Did you notice that there were a ton of supporting links and a timeline here? Probably not since you haven’t read anything here, ever. It takes time to pull this together AND some of us have real work to get done as well. It is easy to just have an attitude. Having some facts takes some work. Which we already know you won’t do. If you don’t have anything to say, then just STFU. If you had read any of this, you’d notice that the only venom here is for commenters who can’t pull their weight.

        • Fine, “hard words for”. better? Simple question… no trumpian deflection please (cute phrase huh?)
          Elizabeth Warren…. is she a clueless bernie bro? It is the take of this website that anyone who views this as “news” or thinks that “the DNC was rigged” is ….. well, look back to your own words.
          Do you feel that way about EVERYONE who thinks this? yes or no please.

          This defensiveness in response to a friggin political party is just…. well, it’s what is going to get Trump a second term. There i said it.
          (spoiler, people who dont understand that despite frustration with the DNC, they wil HAVE to vite for whoever is nominated …aka, bernie bros… will also cause our oblivion, so there is fault on BOTH SIDES!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

          Cassandra, *sigh… you STFU (see how unproductive that is? i know you’re not going to STFU. nor would i want you to) .
          You’re a a great blogger ( i mean that), you write wonderfully and you do a lot of hard and important work on a great many causes. You put up with all maner of shmendriks and morons and you slay them with great verbal aplomb …. but you’re also a bully. A pretty boorish one at that.
          I guess it has it’s place in political commentary, but it’s really tiresome and undercuts other things you’d try to accomplish. Just some friendly advice from a fellow progressive who is really familiar with the bully archetype. Enjoy your weekend.
          P.S I await your epic take-down in response to my comment. May it be wrathful. Keep fightin, champ 🙂

          • Unless Elizabeth Warren has something more to add to Brazile’s writings, I disagree with her claim. That does NOT mean I don’t like Elizabeth Warren. I just disagree with her on this, unless she has more facts.

            It would be so refreshing to not constantly be painted into a right/wrong world. There are shades of gray, and I’ve yet to find someone who I agree with on everything. (I couldn’t stand Obama’s education policy).

            Meanwhile, this breaks on the eve of the Virginia election (and I’m not a fan of Northam). I swear, Dems/progressives are their own worst enemy.

          • cassandram

            Not interested in you policing my behavior here. If you would simply engage with what was written here, you could have saved yourself from being reminded that you have added not one thing to this conversation. Not.One. So if you can impeach any of this to support your “feelings” then have at it. Until then, you will be vulnerable to being reminded that you are not in this conversation.

            And I will also remind you that you are here in my space, being spectacularly ignorant on an important conversation. This progressive will tell you that as long as you are interested in a victim’s narrative, you aren’t useful to anyone in the Resistance.

            • Now THATS what im talkin about!

              • cassandram

                Well of course you are. It engages nothing, says nothing and is all about you. Congratulations on consistency.

          • You’re a great cheerleader, Ben. It’s just that maybe you’re not exactly boyfriend material.

  4. RE Vanella

    Just leave them alone now. They’re confused. Lost in minutiae and blind loyalty.

    • Charming.

    • cassandram

      Indeed. A post full of supported facts and you can’t engage with a single one of them. Just your speed. Go back to where your entitled attitude actually has some currency.

  5. RE Vanella

    Also true.

  6. RE Vanella

    That’s a good one. Good luck with it.

  7. Bill Cortes

    Well written and researched. Thanks Cassandra. I am reminded of my favorite Pogo saying regarding who the “enemy” really is. Barnes & Noble is full of “tell-all” tales, but there’s always room for one more……..

  8. Buzzwords like “entitled” don’t do much to heal wounds, either.

    Who killed who, or who’s a bad person and who’s a worse one, is not really the issue. The argument we need to have is about so-called “unilateral disarmament” on how and from whom the party raises funds, and the longer it’s presented in terms of where we’ve been the longer we’ll ignore how to move forward.

  9. All this is coming from the only person proven to have “rigged” something (debate topics).

  10. The longer we spend attacking people the less time we’ll spend on the ideas behind them, which is what the disagreement is actually about.

  11. cassandram

    • (Reaches for more popcorn) Keep it up, kids.

      Pretty clear Brazile isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.

  12. Why are we joining in on helping Trump with his smoke and mirrors to deflect the fact that our democracy was compromised by Putin. Really this is useless information. Hillary lost . . . democrats lost . . .Brazile is a loser.

    • cassandram

      It’s useful to Brazile who looks to be trying to rehabilitate herself. For what, I don’t know. A place on a 2020 run? A new pundit gig? But to do that at the expense of what we already know about this story is pretty bad. We need to deal with what is real — a DNC that badly needs focus and work — and not more Hillary is a boogeyman stories.

      • Hear, hear. The media loves a fight, any fight, because people stop to watch. The only answer is to stop fighting. The best way to stop fighting is to look ahead.

    • cassandram

      So NBC gets a copy of the memo. This was not a JFA, it was a fundraising memo with detail on amounts Hillary would raise for the DNC, level of input for the general election and a caveat that other candidates inclined to raise money for the DNC could get a similar deal. Howard Dean on Twitter saying that this is SOP for candidates who raise funds for the DNC. Which still points to the loophole super pac problem, but still.

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