Donna Brazile Slams Debbie Wasserman Schultz for Mismanaging DNC, Letting Clinton Take Over

It's hard to remember the last time U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz had a good PR week. The local lawmaker is getting dumped on again today: Donna Brazile, who worked under Wasserman Schultz and briefly ran the Democratic National Committee after the congresswoman stepped down during her email scandal, published an excerpt of her new book today — and Brazile lights up her former boss for wholly mismanaging the DNC's major fundraising and electioneering wing.

"Debbie was not a good manager," Brazile wrote in an excerpt published today by Politico. "She hadn’t been very interested in controlling the party — she let Hillary Clinton’s headquarters in Brooklyn do as it desired so she didn’t have to inform the party officers how bad the situation was. How much control Brooklyn had and for how long was still something I had been trying to uncover for the last few weeks."

In the piece's most staggering section, Brazile claims Wasserman Schultz let the Clinton campaign take over control of the DNC in August 2015, almost a year before Clinton actually won the primary the following July. Brazile noted that in past presidential runs, the candidate's team didn't begin taking control of DNC fundraising operations until June or July, after it became clear the candidate had won the primary.

Brazile writes that the Clinton campaign had been in control of the so-called Victory Fund the entire time — despite the fact that the pool of money was supposed to have been earmarked for whoever won the nomination.

She writes:
I wanted to believe Hillary, who made campaign finance reform part of her platform, but I had made this pledge to Bernie and did not want to disappoint him. I kept asking the party lawyers and the DNC staff to show me the agreements that the party had made for sharing the money they raised, but there was a lot of shuffling of feet and looking the other way.

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 Brooklyn. Well, here was the answer. 
Brazile is pretty clearly trying to wash her hands of any responsibility for losing the 2016 election to a pudding-brained cartoon character. She instead seems happy to heap as much blame as possible on Wasserman Schultz. Brazile recounts how she tried — oh, how she tried — to weed out corruption in the DNC and wept when she personally called Bernie Sanders to tell him the DNC had been in Clinton's pocket for at least a year. (Though that fact reeks of corruption, how much this move actually contributed to Clinton's primary win is still a matter of debate.)

As others have already noted, some of Brazile's claims don't fully add up: Brazile says she discovered the Victory Fund agreement in May, but as the Atlantic lays out, the Sanders campaign had already been complaining about the same arrangement publicly for a month at that point.
Brazile also tries, and fails, to paint herself as having been in the Bernie camp all along and having seen the writing on the wall that Donald Trump was heading for a national victory. That's almost certainly nonsense, and Brazile conveniently doesn't mention the time she got caught feeding CNN debate questions to the Clinton campaign.

But Brazile's feelings notwithstanding, the op-ed still does no favors to Wasserman Schultz, who dodges political scandals with the dexterity of someone afflicted with late-stage gout. She has taken a shellacking in the past 12 months. Some flak, such as the email hack that showed her conspiring against Sanders and forced her to resign, was clearly warranted. (She's also cosponsoring a bill that would make it a felony to boycott the state of Israel, a measure the American Civil Liberties Union calls a massive violation of the First Amendment.) Other scandals — such being blamed by the internet fringe for straight-up murdering Seth Rich, one of her own staffers — are clear hogwash.

But through it all, she remains popular in her South Florida home base: Wasserman Schultz cruised to victory against Sanders surrogate Tim Canova last year and is somehow poised to do so against him in 2018 too.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.