Attorneys for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) are making the case in federal court that the party has the right to rig future primaries.
Plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit filed against the DNC argue that donors and voters supporting Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) bid for the presidency were defrauded by the Democratic Party, alleging that party leaders like then-chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz had rigged the primaries in order to deny Sen. Sanders a fair chance at the nomination.
As the transcript of the lawsuit’s first hearing reads, plaintiffs specifically cited the DNC charter’s language that instructs party officials to be neutral in administering different state primaries and caucuses to make sure the nominating process is done fairly:
“In the conduct and management of the affairs and procedures of the Democratic National Committee, particularly as they apply to the preparation and conduct of the Presidential nomination process, the Chairperson shall exercise impartiality and evenhandedness as between the Presidential candidates and campaigns. The Chairperson shall be responsible for ensuring that the national officers and staff of the Democratic National Committee maintain impartiality and evenhandedness during the Democratic Party Presidential nominating process.”
-Article 5, Section 4, Democratic National Committee charter
Bizarrely, the DNC’s attorneys dismissed their own charter’s strict language, dismissing that section of the charter as a a “discretionary rule that [the DNC] didn’t need to adopt to begin with,” and arguing that the words “impartiality” and “evenhandedness” couldn’t be properly interpreted in a court of law. Committee lawyers also brazenly suggested that since Sanders’ supporters knew the primaries were rigged prior to donating to the Sanders campaign, they shouldn’t entitled to any relief from the court.
“I think there’s an impossible showing of causation,” attorney Bruce Spiva argued. “The Court would have to find that people who fervently supported Bernie Sanders and who purportedly didn’t know that this favoritism was going on would have not given to Mr. Sanders, to Senator Sanders, if they had known that there was this purported favoritism.”
The DNC’s arguments grew increasingly more outlandish, with Spiva suggesting at one point that the party would be within its right to go into back rooms clouded with cigar smoke to choose presidential nominees if it chose to (emphasis ours).
“[I]f you had a charity where somebody said, Hey, I’m gonna take this money and use it for a specific purpose, X, and they pocketed it and stole the money, of course that’s different,” Spiva said. “But here, where you have a party that’s saying, We’re gonna, you know, choose our standard bearer, and we’re gonna follow these general rules of the road, which we are voluntarily deciding, we could have — and we could have voluntarily decided that, Look, we’re gonna go into back rooms like they used to and smoke cigars and pick the candidate that way. That’s not the way it was done. But they could have. And that would have also been their right.”
In arguing for the plaintiffs, attorney Jared Beck insisted to the court that the DNC be held accountable not just to the promises made in its charter, but to Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s own promises that the party infrastructure wasn’t interfering in the primary process to benefit Hillary Clinton.
“[N]ot only is it in the charter, but it was stated over and over again in the media by the Democratic National Committee’s employees, including Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, that they were, in fact, acting in compliance with the charter,” Beck said. “And they said it again and again, and we’ve cited several instances of that in the case.”
Internal DNC emails leaked by WikiLeaks just prior to the 2016 Democratic National Convention confirmed that both Debbie Wasserman Schultz and top-level DNC staff, like Executive Director Amy Dacey and Communications Director Luis Miranda were working behind the scenes to boost Clinton and smear Sanders during the Democratic primary.
Schultz was forced to resign after the emails were leaked. She was immediately given an honorary position on the Clinton campaign following her resignation. Clinton ultimately lost the general election to Donald Trump, with the traditionally blue states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin giving Trump a narrow edge in the Electoral College to garner a 270-vote majority.
Tom Cahill is a writer for the Resistance Report based in the Pacific Northwest. He specializes in coverage of political, economic, and environmental news. You can contact him via email at [email protected], or follow him on Facebook by clicking here.