Donna Brazile, a veteran Democratic strategist and former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, has come under intense fire in the wake of her explosive claims that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton—and her deep pockets—unethically influenced the 2016 primary election against Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
According to an excerpt from Brazile’s forthcoming book, Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House, published in Politico, Clinton entered into a shadowy agreement with the DNC that gave HRC’s campaign unprecedented influence over not just DNC election strategy and finances but also its communications department, in exchange for keeping the cash-strapped party from collapsing.
Read an excerpt from Brazile’s book below:
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.
I had been wondering why it was that I couldn’t write a press release without passing it by [Clinton’s headquarters in] Brooklyn [New York]. Well, here was the answer.
Brazile writes that she was shocked to discover that Politico’s previous claim that the DNC had been “essentially money laundering” for Clinton through extravagant state fundraisers was not so far off the mark.
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.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) took it a step further. When CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Warren on Thursday if she believed that the primary election had been rigged against Sanders, she simply responded, “Yes.”
Clinton supporters touting the fact that the joint-fundraising agreement between the Clinton campaign and the DNC was reported in 2015 have dedicated themselves to the most disingenuous reading of this situation as possible. Despite NPR posting the entire text of the memorandum—which supplemented the standard joint-fundraising agreement that Sanders signed as well, Clinton supporters continue to claim that Brazile is a liar. She may very well be, but not about this.
They claim that any critique of the arrangement is driven by politically illiterate pure-mongers with a so-called far-leftist agenda—or people who believe that Fox News is anything other than white supremacist propaganda.
Some have decided to wallow in semantics and gaslighting, insisting that the primary could not have been “rigged” because Sanders had the same opportunity to raise money for the Democratic Party as Clinton and chose not to do so. These people conveniently hopscotch over the reality that Sanders did not have internal party support, nor wealthy donors from Hollywood to Wall Street. Instead, he depended primarily on small donations from individual donors, effectively circumventing the established system and shocking the Democratic Party.
Clinton, on the other hand, through the 2015 memorandum signed in addition to the joint-fundraising agreement, allegedly raised money “for the party” to be used in the general election to support whomever the candidate might be, but the lion’s share of those funds were rerouted directly to her campaign.
Politico reported in 2016:
The victory fund has transferred $3.8 million to the state parties, but almost all of that cash ($3.3 million, or 88 percent) was quickly transferred to the DNC, usually within a day or two, by the Clinton staffer who controls the committee, POLITICO’s analysis of the FEC records found.
By contrast, the victory fund has transferred $15.4 million to Clinton’s campaign and $5.7 million to the DNC, which will work closely with Clinton’s campaign if and when she becomes the party’s nominee. And most of the $23.3 million spent directly by the victory fund has gone toward expenses that appear to have directly benefited Clinton’s campaign, including $2.8 million for “salary and overhead” and $8.6 million for web advertising that mostly looks indistinguishable from Clinton campaign ads and that has helped Clinton build a network of small donors who will be critical in a general election expected to cost each side well in excess of $1 billion.
Brazile claims in her book that she didn’t want to believe the stranglehold that Clinton had over the DNC, but she could no longer deny it once the evidence was staring her in the face.
“The day that Donna discovered this, she called me and I almost passed out,” Ray Buckley, the chairman of New Hampshire’s Democratic Party, told the Chicago Tribune of that moment in 2016. “We were blatantly misled.”
In the wake of Brazile’s political maelstrom, liberals who once exalted the Clinton ally are now labeling her a dishonest, opportunist book peddler with self-serving motives—i.e., book sales. The charges against Brazile are valid—let’s be clear on that—and worthy of examination.
Once Brazile became the ceremonial sacrifice on the altar of political corruption after being caught feeding Clinton debate questions during the primary race against Sanders, she showed none of this newly revealed turmoil that she expects observers to buy into like 6-year-olds with no knowledge of how corrupt politics work. Previously, when her collusion with the Clinton campaign was exposed, she insisted: “My conscience—as an activist, as a strategist—my conscience is very clear. ... If I had to do it all over again, I would know a hell of a lot more about cybersecurity.”
This is what
democracy hypocrisy looks like.
What Brazile meant was that she would know next time to hide her dirt better—and Clinton supporters were fine with that because Brazile was playing the game as she was expected to play it. After all, who did Bernie Sanders think he was—a Democrat? According to Clinton supporters, it was foolish to expect the Democratic Party to show the same support for an independent who, despite caucusing with Democrats, would always be considered an interloper.
Brazile laughed off her willing participation in the rigged debate as commonplace political gamesmanship—hey, that’s just the way it is. Now, though, we’re supposed to believe that when she discovered the shockingly unethical nature of the agreement between Clinton and the DNC, she was swimming in tortured emotions. That she was so distraught as she “centered” herself to “call Bernie” that she had to light candles, listen to gospel music and pray that Jesus would take the wheel.
Completely innocent and ethical Donna from New Orleans was shocked by the murky depths of the swamp. That’s what we’re supposed to believe.
In her book excerpt, Brazile manages to cast blame on the Clinton campaign, former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC leadership and former President Barack Obama, who apparently “neglected” the party, borrowed too much money and paid it back too slowly.
I haven’t had the opportunity to read Brazile’s book, but I do wonder if she, in her newfound allegiance to truth and transparency, takes any semblance of responsibility for her own unethical actions in any of the chapters.
I’m lying. I don’t wonder. The answer is most certainly no.
Clearly, whatever Brazile was promised or expecting for playing ball didn’t pan out. Clinton supporters may pretend that false outrage and facts are mutually exclusive, but we know that’s far from the truth. Brazile may have self-serving reasons for coming forward now—including, but not limited to, book sales and getting in where she fits among the growing contingent of progressive black women who realize that the Democratic Party is failing them. Brazile is smart enough to want to catch the wave.
That doesn’t mean, however, that politics isn’t dirty or that the electoral system isn’t rigged—voter suppression and gerrymandering already tell us that it is. The deal between Clinton and the DNC is simply political manipulation at its most insidious. If someone is invested in one candidate over the other, they will intentionally not see that or pretend that they don’t.
So for Clinton supporters who vacillate between claiming she has done no wrong and is only viciously maligned because she’s a woman to cheering her ability to play the game as dirty as any man: Let’s play a game.
Let’s imagine for one moment that Sanders was the one with flush pockets. Let’s say the DNC came to him for a handout to save it from itself and its futile quest to usher white supremacists with hearts of sparkling coal dust into the Democratic Party fold. Let’s say Sanders agreed to share the wealth and, in return, he was allowed to control strategy and spending of the supposedly impartial party apparatus to the point where even press releases didn’t go out without his camp’s approval.
Unless Donna Brazile is a bold-faced liar—which so many Clinton supporters are now saying she is—this is how it went down between Clinton and the DNC.
If that had happened, Clinton supporters would be calling for investigations and congressional hearings. Russia? What Russia? There would be rallies and marches. There would be charges of misogyny and collusion and unethical behavior. It would be a pink-pussy-hat extravaganza of extreme order.
Instead? Clinton supporters are frantically insisting that all but the most politically immature observers know that “this is how the system works” and there’s nothing to see here.
And you know what? They’re right. This is exactly how the system works. What Clinton and the DNC did by entering into their arrangement was not illegal. We all know that what is legal is often in direct conflict with what is just, fair and transparent. No, the problem here is not that the arrangement was illegal, but that it was completely legal.
We should ask ourselves why that is and whom exactly does it benefit.
Hillary Clinton is a sharp, skilled politician who knows the fine art of plausible deniability. Her supporters are quick to laud her experience, her deftness in navigating male-dominated waters and her tactical superiority. She saw an opportunity to tilt the scales in her favor and she did. She paid to play, and the Democratic Party mortgaged its already dubious claims of impartiality in exchange for money and connections. That is how the game is played. And for self-proclaimed pragmatic liberals to claim ignorance now is laughable.
A rigged system does not ensure that those in power win each time; it ensures that the status quo remains the same.
Just as the truth of white supremacist police forces does not mean that every black child will be lynched by killers with badges; just as the truth that an education system that institutionalizes and criminalizes black and brown students to protect white power will not succeed in killing the intellectual fire in all black and brown students; just as the truth of mass incarceration does not mean that every single black person who lives in occupied communities will find themselves behind bars—a political system rigged in favor of corporate cronyism, capitalism, patriarchy and white supremacy is still a system rigged in favor or corporate cronyism, capitalism, patriarchy and white supremacy, whether it succeeds in its mission in each instance or not.
This is not merely about Hillary Clinton winning the primary, or at least it shouldn’t be. Bernie Sanders, who has continually shown his ingrained instincts to “other” black and brown people, is not a white savior. If he had won the primary and gone on to win the general election, it wouldn’t have been simply because his populist message resonated so deeply among both millennials and people of color who understand that you can’t have capitalism without racism. It wouldn’t have been because he was once adjacent to the civil rights movement. Sanders’ ability to make the so-called white working class comfortable in a way that Hillary Clinton could not is what would have given him the edge in swing states she lost.
That kind of negotiation with white supremacy should rightfully be placed under a microscope. It is why a political duopoly will never be in the best interests of freedom and liberation. The game is rigged no matter who is on the board, and it always has been.
Clinton knows it.
Sanders knows it.
The DNC and the RNC know it.
Trump knows it.
And if political cheerleaders would put down the pom-poms for their favorites, they would admit that they know it, too. It is simply a matter of whom it chooses to favor and what deal(s) with the devil(s) had to transpire for it to be so.
I know this much to be true: Instead of doubling down on duplicity, the Democratic Party better have a real reckoning—and soon. Refusing to indict a system that’s guilty as hell just to score political points means that we all lose, just as Dems will lose again in 2020 if they keep insulting the intelligence and doubting the determination of the people they claim to serve.
Count on it.