Interim Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Donna Brazile placed blame for the party’s financial woes squarely on former President Barack Obama and Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a Thursday column, excoriating the pair for handing over complete control of the party to the Clinton campaign almost a year before she secured the nomination.
Soon after taking over as interim chair, Brazile set out to determine whether the DNC had improperly assisted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in securing the party’s nomination, as leaked internal emails suggested.
She quickly determined that the DNC was in serious financial peril and the former chair, Wasserman Schultz, had relinquished control of the party to the Clinton campaign in exchange for a monthly allowance that would cover the operation’s day to day costs.
“Debbie was not a good manager. She hadn’t been very interested in controlling the party—she let Clinton’s headquarters in Brooklyn do as it desired so she didn’t have to inform the party officers how bad the situation was,” Brazile wrote in Politico Magazine.
Brazile realized the extent to which the DNC had jettisoned its independence upon discovering a joint fundraising agreement, signed roughly one year before Clinton had officially won the nomination.
“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,” Brazile wrote. “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.”
Obama and Wasserman Schultz are largely to blame for placing the DNC in such a perilous financial state that they were forced to rely on Clinton campaign money, according to Brazile. She points out that Obama “left the party $24 million in debt” and charges Wasserman Schultz with exacerbating the party’s financial strain by refusing to trim down the DNC staff during non-election years.
“The party chair usually shrinks the staff between presidential election campaigns, but Debbie had chosen not to do that. She had stuck lots of consultants on the DNC payroll, and Obama’s consultants were being financed by the DNC, too.”
Ultimately, Brazile claims to have identified a significant lack of grassroots enthusiasm surrounding the Clinton camp weeks before the election. When she called Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to report her findings on the entanglements between the DNC and the Clinton campaign, she issued a stark warning.
“I had to be frank with him. I did not trust the polls, I said. I told him I had visited states around the country and I found a lack of enthusiasm for her everywhere.”