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Donna Brazile: Clinton campaign rigged the DNC

Donna Brazile, vice chair of the Democratic National Committee and serving as interim chair until November, speaks on the floor of the Democratic National Convention. Photo: Paul Sancya / AP

Donna Brazile, the former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, wrote a scathing tell-all in Politico, accusing Hillary Clinton's campaign of controlling the DNC for her advantage and keeping it on financial "life support."

Why it matters: Brazile is accusing Hillary Clinton and her campaign of "rigging the system" to ensure she would become the party's presidential nominee (not Bernie Sanders). And Brazile argues that it "compromised the party's integrity" during an election in which everyone has since been focused on Russian meddling to help Donald Trump's campaign.

  • President Trump tweeted in response Thursday night: "Donna Brazile just stated the DNC RIGGED the system to illegally steal the Primary from Bernie Sanders. Bought and paid for by Crooked H...This is real collusion and dishonesty. Major violation of Campaign Finance Laws and Money Laundering - where is our Justice Department?

What she found: An agreement between the Clinton campaign and the DNC, specifically a "Joint Fund-Raising Agreement between the DNC, the Hillary Victory Fund, and Hillary for America." Brazile writes that this agreement allowed Clinton to "control the party's finances, strategy, and all the money raised." It even allowed Clinton's campaign to decide the DNC comms director, and her headquarters in Brooklyn was given authority to make final decisions on all mailings, budgeting, data, staffing and analytics.

When Brazile found out, she called Bernie Sanders to tell him the news. "I urged Bernie to work as hard as he could to bring his supporters into the fold with Hillary, and to campaign with all the heart and hope he could muster," she wrote. "[H]e knew and I knew that the alternative was a person who would put the very future of the country in peril. I knew he heard me. I knew he agreed with me, but I never in my life had felt so tiny and powerless as I did making that call."

The details: Typically, as Brazile notes in her article, the DNC victory fund is for whichever candidate becomes the party's nominee — but Clinton's campaign was controlling it even before that happened.

  • Individuals can only make a maximum campaign contribution of $2,700. Those who had maxed out their limit could write another check (for $353,400) specifically to the Hillary Victory Fund. (That broke down to $320,000 for the Victory Fund across 32 states and $33,400 to the DNC.)
  • Aside from the battleground states, the rest transferred their money to the DNC, which was then transferred to the Clinton campaign headquarters in Brooklyn.
  • The Wikileaks emails, which were released right around the convention in July, "revealed Hillary's campaign was grabbing money from the state parties for its own purposes, leaving the states with very little to support down-ballot races," per Brazile.

Brazile blames Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who "had not been the most active chair in fundraising. ... Debbie was not a good manager. She hadn't been very interested in controlling the party," Brazile wrote.