Yesterday I received a fundraising appeal from the Sanders campaign captioned “DNC tipping the scales for Hillary Clinton.” The email attacked the DNC for temporarily suspending access to voter data and conjured up an evil party apparatus motivated by no other reason than to “undermine… [Sanders’] insurgent campaign.” Judging by Facebook and Internet comments, this spin has enjoyed early success, and I bet the campaign raises a bunch of money off it, too.
Absent from the email was *any* mention of the Sanders’ campaign’s own serious ethical lapse that led to the DNC’s action: the improper access, searching, saving and sharing of Clinton campaign data from 10 early voting states by four Sanders staffers, including the National Data Director, Josh Uretsky, and his Deputy Director, Russell Drapkin. The software glitch that made the data available was NGP VAN’s error, but exploiting it to search Clinton’s data is entirely on the Sanders campaign. Uretsky was fired by the Sanders campaign, a move that undercut the credibility of Uretsky’s attempts in the press to justify his actions as evidence-gathering to report the problem.
The fundraising email and attack on the DNC capped a day of misinformation from the Sanders campaign which included campaign manager Jeff Weaver claiming that no Clinton data was saved by Sanders’ staffers (despite log evidence that it was saved to Sanders campaign folders in VAN) and asserting that the security glitch was just the latest in a series by “incompetent” vendor NGP VAN, an allegation rebutted by NGP VAN on its web blog and corroborated by Uretsky, who admitted (at 5:47 in this clip), that the previous issues were not “actually within the VAN VoteBuilder system, it was another system.”
Bernie Sanders made his reputation by speaking truth to power and appearing to be above politics as usual. I’m not sure what that brand is worth now, since he is clearly prepared to have his campaign peddle blatant untruths to raise money, motivate his supporters and manipulate the press – at the cost of the bigger game. Sanders is unlikely to win the nomination. If he doesn’t, what is the legacy of his campaign going to be? Is it energized new voters who help elect a Democrat and advocate for and defend progressive policies? Or is it disillusioned angry Bernie cultists who feel they were cheated by the system? This sorry episode by the Sanders campaign reminds me of of when John McCain, running for President, betrayed everything he stood for by defending the Bush enhanced interrogation protocols.