This morning Politico published a piece from former interim DNC chairwoman Donna Brazile, who tells the story of that one time she found hard evidence of woeful collusion between Hillary Clinton and the DNC.
Twitter is awash with people claiming this story presents definitive proof that Clinton rigged the primary election in her favor. We'll get to that in a second. For the moment, here's Brazile's big reveal:
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
This deal, Brazile claims, was "signed in August 2015, just four months after Hillary announced her candidacy and nearly a year before she officially had the nomination."
The funding arrangement with HFA and the victory fund agreement was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical. 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. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity.
But why did the DNC sign on to the deal in the first place? Brazile says Obama left the party hurting for funds, and Clinton's campaign "resolved the party’s debt and put it on a starvation diet." So it looks like the DNC was broke and lashed themselves to Clinton to remain solvent. (Fun fact: the DNC is still broke and struggling to raise money.) It's hard to square the claim "the DNC is and was in shambles" with "but their messaging was so powerful they managed to rig the primary election in Clinton's favor."
Nowhere in the piece does Brazile mention that Politico reported the fundraising agreement between the DNC and Hillary when it happened, nor does she mention that the Sanders campaign also signed a joint fundraising agreement with the DNC. Bernie could have raised more money through that agreement, which would have helped the DNC financially and also arguably helped down-ballot Democrats, but he chose to raise money through small donations.
Though you'd be forgiven for trying actively to forget everything that happened last year, at this point it's helpful to remember that former DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz stepped down after DNC e-mails hacked by Russians and distributed widely by WikiLeaks "appeared to show coordinated efforts to help Clinton at the expense of her rivals in the Democratic primaries," according to The Washington Post. "That contradicted claims by the party and the Clinton campaign that the process was open and fair for her leading challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont."
Brazile stepped in as interim chair shortly thereafter, but she caught a lot of heat for giving the Clinton campaign advanced notice of the questions she planned to ask during a primary debate against Sanders.
At the time supporters of Hillary Clinton brushed off this evidence of the DNC's bias toward Clinton. Sanders wasn't a Democrat, after all, and anyway he could never beat Trump. When Clinton comfortably won the primary, her supporters pointed to the win as proof of her rightful dominance among Democrats, mostly because it was. Democrats clearly preferred Hillary Clinton. Some still do. It makes sense that she would work more closely with the DNC and thus reap the benefits of working closely with the DNC. It also makes sense that Bernie would distance himself from the DNC, and then slam Hillary for being close to the DNC and their corporate donors, which is exactly what he did.
Brazile's confessions in this Politico story provide more detail on previously reported financial agreements between the DNC and the Clinton campaign, but mostly they tell us that Brazile is promoting a book called Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House. And good for her. We're all just trying to survive the end times. But allegations that Brazile is providing definitive proof that Clinton "rigged" the primary in her favor are overblown.
Meanwhile, Bernie appears to be considering a run in 2020.
The only thing that didn't die in 2016 was 2016.