WASHINGTON – The Democratic National Committee is currently defending the tactics it used last year to rig the presidential primary against Sen. Bernie Sanders in a class-action lawsuit, brazenly telling voters in a court of law that the party is not obligated to run a fair and impartial primary election.
Outraged by how the DNC unfairly boosted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and cleared the way for her primary victory, supporters of Sanders and Democratic donors sued the DNC in June 2016 alleging it defrauded its constituents.
During the primaries, the DNC blatantly tilted its primary system in favor of Clinton. Then-DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was repeatedly criticized for trying to make the Democratic Party presidential debates as few and low-key as possible, to Clinton’s advantage.
Regardless of Sanders’ victories during the primaries and caucuses, superdelegates immediately lined up behind Hillary, guaranteeing Sanders’ defeat.
Internal DNC emails only confirmed allegations of the DNC’s rigged primary system, underscoring deep-rooted corruption.
The trove of DNC emails made public by WikiLeaks revealed top officials within the Democratic National Committee privately conspiring to undermine and antagonize Sanders’ campaign, ultimately resulting in Wasserman-Schultz quitting her post in July 2016.
Welp. So much for “fair and square”.https://t.co/maPVsRelSL
— Michael Graham (@BLUpfront) July 22, 2016
— Election Forum (@Reality_Alert) March 20, 2017
Wasserman-Schultz rescinded a ban on donations from lobbyists and PACs when Sanders emerged as a viable challenger to Clinton in late 2015.
The rule change paved the way for the establishment of the Hillary Victory Fund, which Politico uncovered was laundering money to the Clinton campaign under the claims of fundraising for state Democratic parties. The Clinton campaign would have been outpaced by the Sanders campaign in fundraising if it were not for the rule change.
Current DNC Chairman and former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, while campaigning to become the DNC chairman, even admitted in February that the Democratic Party primaries were rigged in favor of Clinton.
The class-action lawsuit, Wilding et al v DNC Services Corporation and Deborah “Debbie” Wasserman-Schultz, alleges the DNC violated its own rules on neutrality, presenting itself as a neutral political organization while it elevated Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nominating elections.
During an April 25 hearing, the DNC argued the case should be dismissed. Judge William J. Zloch, a Reagan-appointed senior federal judge for the United States District Court serving the Southern District of Florida, heard oral arguments pertaining to the DNC’s Motion to Dismiss request on April 28.
DNC lawyers justified the party’s right to select candidates through “back-room” deals and tip the scale for the establishment’s preferred primary candidate.
“[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. 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,'” DNC attorney Bruce Spiva argued. “That’s not the way it was done. But they could have. And that would have also been their right, and it would drag the court well into party politics, internal party politics to answer those questions.”
But Article 4, Section 5 of the DNC charter states: “The chairperson shall exercise impartiality and evenhandedness 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.”
While the DNC charter explicitly stipulates that the DNC chair and their staff must ensure neutrality in the Democratic Party presidential primaries, it is “a discretionary rule that it didn’t need to adopt to begin with,” Spiva asserted.
Furthermore, the DNC lawyer contended, the words “impartial” and “evenhanded,” used in the DNC charter, are not “self-defining” and can’t be interpreted by a court of law, the DNC lawyer asserted.
Attorneys representing the plaintiffs, Jared Beck and Elizabeth Lee, claimed the argument that the term “impartial” is ambiguous is absurd.
“I’m shocked to hear that we can’t define what it means to be evenhanded and impartial. If that were the case, we couldn’t have courts,” Beck retorted. “I mean, that’s what courts do every day, is decide disputes in an evenhanded and impartial manner.”
The Democratic Party has a “fiduciary duty” to its contributors, which it disregarded with the false appearance of a fair primary process.
“People paid money in reliance on the understanding that the primary elections for the Democratic nominee – nominating process in 2016 were fair and impartial,” Beck said. “And that’s not just a bedrock assumption that we would assume just by virtue of the fact that we live in a democracy, and we assume that our elections are run in a fair and impartial manner. But that’s what the Democratic National Committee’s own charter says. It says it in black and white. And they can’t deny that.
“Not 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 Wassermann-Schultz, that they were, in fact, acting in compliance with the charter,” he added. “And they said it again and again, and we’ve cited several instances of that in the case.”
Beck expanded upon the details of the lawsuit in a recent interview with Young Turks.
The judge told both parties at the conclusion of the hearing that he would issue a written order on the DNC’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. He did not specify when his decision may be handed down.
Upon the class-action lawsuit moving forward, key Democrats such as Wasserman-Schulz and Donna Brazile would likely be called to testify under penalty of perjury.