Today Politico published an excerpt from Donna Brazile’s forthcoming book titled Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House. Brazile, in case you have forgotten, is the long-time Democratic Party operative who replaced Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as Chair of the Democratic National Committee. In the Politico excerpt, Brazile throws Wasserman-Schultz and numerous others under the bus.
Brazile says that the Democratic Party was in terrible financial condition. In order to save itself, it sold its soul to the Clinton operation, prior to when Hillary became the party’s presidential nominee:
President Barack Obama’s neglect had left the party in significant debt.
The Saturday morning after the convention in July, I called Gary Gensler, the chief financial officer of Hillary’s campaign. He wasted no words. He told me the Democratic Party was broke and $2 million in debt.
Officials from Hillary’s campaign had taken a look at the DNC’s books. Obama left the party $24 million in debt—$15 million in bank debt and more than $8 million owed to vendors after the 2012 campaign—and had been paying that off very slowly.
So Hillary’s campaign paid off the debt and “placed the [Democratic] party on an allowance.” Brazile said she had no knowledge of these arrangements–or even of the party’s perilous financial condition–even though she was an officer of the DNC. It was all Debbie’s fault.
Brazile endorses Politico’s assertion, made in May of last year, that Clinton’s arrangement with the DNC was “essentially…money laundering.” Which seems like a rather dangerous concession for a former DNC chair to make.
The campaign had the DNC on life support, giving it money every month to meet its basic expenses, while the campaign was using the party as a fund-raising clearinghouse. Under FEC law, an individual can contribute a maximum of $2,700 directly to a presidential campaign. But the limits are much higher for contributions to state parties and a party’s national committee.
Individuals who had maxed out their $2,700 contribution limit to the campaign could write an additional check for $353,400 to the Hillary Victory Fund—that figure represented $10,000 to each of the 32 states’ parties who were part of the Victory Fund agreement—$320,000—and $33,400 to the DNC. 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.
Brazile eventually learned that this arrangement, and more, had been put in writing via an agreement between the DNC and the Clinton campaign that was executed long before Hillary won the nomination:
When I got back from a vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, I at last found the document that described it all: the Joint Fund-Raising Agreement between the DNC, the Hillary Victory Fund, and Hillary for America.
The agreement—signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and Robby Mook with a copy to Marc Elias—specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.
I had been wondering why it was that I couldn’t write a press release without passing it by Brooklyn. Well, here was the answer.
So Brazile sadly told Bernie Sanders that what had been leaked was true: the DNC had rigged the nomination process to ensure Hillary’s victory.
Brazile says, in the Politico excerpt, that the Clinton campaign’s “money laundering” arrangement with the Democratic Party was “not illegal,” but I have no idea whether that assertion is true or not. (Nor does Brazile, I suspect.) Ann Althouse has her doubts:
I’d like a neutral outsider, a respected prosecutor, to investigate whether this was criminal. I’m not accepting Brazile’s self-interested assertion. It was bad, really bad, she keeps saying, but — magically — it was not criminal. My impression of campaign finance law — and I’m not an expert — is that many things that don’t even seem wrong have been criminalized. Brazile has it the other way around.
I agree. I think this is grist for a third special counsel: the second, as I have said before, should look into Uranium One, the FBI’s apparent complicity in the cover-up of Uranium One, and collusion between the Clinton campaign and Russians. The third special counsel should investigate whether the Clinton campaign and the DNC violated campaign finance laws or other statutes through their “money laundering” agreement. I note that Marc Elias is a figure who keeps cropping up in these scandals. The second and third special counsels should pay particular attention to him.
One last comment: my opinion of Barack Obama is very low, but one thing I have always given him credit for is a phenomenal ability to raise money. I am surprised to learn that he is being blamed–by Ms. Brazile, at least–for leaving the Democratic Party in disastrous financial (as opposed to electoral) condition.