As the 2016 Democratic candidates square off in their third debate tonight, which no one will watch, civil war seems to have been averted between the Democratic National Committee and the Bernie Sanders campaign. The campaign of the self-described democratic socialist senator from Vermont had been accused of improperly exploiting a firewall issue that enabled them to access voter information compiled by the Clinton campaign. The DNC moved swiftly to deny the Sanders campaign’s access to their voter database, including data was that collected on behalf of his volunteers (via WaPo):
Officials with the Democratic National Committee have accused the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders of improperly accessing confidential voter information gathered by the rival campaign of Hillary Clinton, according to several party officials.
Jeff Weaver, the Vermont senator’s campaign manager, acknowledged that a staffer had viewed the information but blamed a software vendor hired by the DNC for a glitch that allowed access. Weaver said one Sanders staffer was fired over the incident.
The discovery sparked alarm at the DNC, which promptly shut off the Sanders campaign’s access to the strategically crucial list of likely Democratic voters.
The DNC maintains the master list and rents it to national and state campaigns, which then add their own, proprietary information gathered by field workers and volunteers. Firewalls are supposed to prevent campaigns from viewing data gathered by their rivals.
NGP VAN, the vendor that handles the master file, said the incident occurred Wednesday while a patch was being applied to the software. The process briefly opened a window into proprietary information from other campaigns, said the company’s chief, Stu Trevelyan. He said a full audit will be conducted.
The DNC has told the Sanders campaign that it will not be allowed access to the data again until it provides an explanation as well as assurances that all Clinton data has been destroyed.
Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs said four Sanders campaign staffers accessed Clinton data, and that three of them did so at the direction of their boss, Josh Uretsky, who was the operative fired.
As a result, the Sanders camp filed a lawsuit against the DNC in federal court.
Two senior Democrats told CNN that the searches conducted by the Sanders team involved turnout projections for the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary:
In Iowa and New Hampshire, the Clinton campaign has ranked voters on a scale of 1-100 for turnout, enthusiasm and support, the senior Democrats said. The Sanders campaign ran two searches: "Show me all the Clinton people rated higher than 60" and "Show me all the people rated less than 30." This would be a key way of knowing who Sanders should target in the final weeks before voting: Ignore those above 60, while focus on those below 30, because they are looking for a Clinton alternative and might be open to Sanders.
The investigation into what information was lifted should only take a few days as there are audit logs and trails of the activity, which took place beginning around 10:40 a.m. and lasting for about 40 minutes, the senior Democrats said.
They added that the Clinton campaign views this as a big deal but will not say so publicly because it will fan the flames of liberal groups trying to fight with the DNC.
Jeff Weaver alluded to such innuendos during his press conference yesterday, where he voiced his opinions about the Saturday debate schedule and the ability for less-known, anti-establishment candidates in the Democratic field to disseminate their agenda and narrative to voters. He certainly said the DNC is “trying to help the Clinton campaign.” Former Democratic Virginia Senator, and 2016 candidate, Jim Webb tweeted his support for Bernie in this matter, saying "the DNC is nothing more than an arm for the Clinton campaign."
Regardless, this issue seems to be settled, the pistols have been holstered, and the Sanders campaign claims the DNC had “capitulated.” For the Sanders camp, this is probably more of relief that this crisis is over (for now) since losing access to this list could have reportedly cost them $600,000 a day in lost fundraising.
The presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont filed a lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee on Friday, arguing that the party had unfairly suspended the campaign’s access to key voter information. After several tense hours, both sides announced a deal had been reached.
The suit came shortly after campaign manager Jeff Weaver acknowledged at a Washington news conference that Sanders staffers had improperly reviewed information gathered by rival Hillary Clinton earlier in the week. But he accused the DNC of overreacting to the breach by suspending the Sanders campaign’s ability to access the computer system containing information about Democratic-leaning voters, including data the campaign has gathered about its own supporters.
After midnight, Sanders and the DNC put out statements that both indicated the impasse had been resolved but that put remarkably different spins on the outcome. Sanders’s campaign said the DNC had “capitulated” and that Sanders would soon regain access to the data. The DNC said what happened was “completely unacceptable” and that it would continue to investigate the circumstances even as Sanders regained access to the valuable information.
Josh Uretsky, Sanders’ national data director who was fired, says he wasn’t looking to improperly take voter information, but trying to "understand how badly the Sanders campaign's data was exposed"