Hillary Clinton’s campaign had control of the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) finances and operations since August of 2015, according to Donna Brazile.
Brazile became interim chair of the DNC following the ouster of former chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz on the eve of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. In emails leaked by WikiLeaks last year, Rep. Schultz (D-Florida) was shown to have gone out of her way to help the Clinton campaign using her position as head of the national party organization, and she and her minions within the party apparatus were shown making derogatory statements about Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and his supporters.
However, Brazile’s explosive new piece in Politico Magazine showed the DNC’s campaign against Sanders was even more insidious than previously imagined. Shortly after Brazile took on her role as interim chair, she found the smoking gun that proved Hillary Clinton essentially owned the Democratic Party long before the first Democratic primary voters cast the first ballots — the Hillary Victory Fund agreement. Brazile said the agreement essentially put Clinton’s apparatchiks in charge of all party operations:
When I was manager of Al Gore’s campaign in 2000, we started inserting our people into the DNC in June. This victory fund agreement, however, had been signed in August 2015, just four months after Hillary announced her candidacy and nearly a year before she officially had the nomination.
The fundraising agreement between Hillary for America (the Clinton campaign), the Hillary Victory Fund, and the DNC was a means for the national party organization to get out of the more than $24 million in debt it had been plagued with since former President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign. Brazile noted that signers of the agreement included both Amy Dacey, who was CEO of the DNC at the time (she was later removed following Wasserman Schultz’s ouster) and Robby Mook, who was Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager.
Because no individual donor can give more than $2,700 to one particular candidate in an election cycle, the Clinton campaign devised a joint fundraising committee scheme (the Victory Fund) in which donors could give as much as $353,400 at a time. Politico described it as a “money laundering conduit” from the DNC to Clinton’s campaign coffers.
In her gripping account, Brazile confirmed that the Victory Fund was simply an engine for the Clinton campaign to transfer donors’ money from the DNC to the campaign itself, even though donors were under the impression that their money would be used for down-ballot races.
The money would be deposited in the states first, and transferred to the DNC shortly after that. Money in the battleground states usually stayed in that state, but all the other states funneled that money directly to the DNC, which quickly transferred the money to Brooklyn [Clinton’s campaign headquarters].
Because Wasserman Schultz was “not a good manager,” according to Brazile, she allowed the Clinton campaign to control the Democratic Party’s finances and operations in order to conceal the party’s financial insolvency from the party’s top officials. Gary Gensler, who was chief financial officer of the Clinton campaign, told Brazile in a phone call that the DNC was essentially on life support, with the party needing roughly $4 million per month to stay operational.
“The funding arrangement with HFA and the victory fund agreement was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical,” Brazile wrote. “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.”
Read Brazile’s full account here.
Matthew P. Robbins is a freelance economics contributor covering wages, budgets, and taxes. He lives in Chicago, Illinois with his husband and two cats.