The presidential campaign for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has been suspended after a breach enabled his staff to improperly access information compiled by Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The controversy comes ahead of the February contests of Iowa and New Hampshire and poses a threat to Sanders’ presidential run as he will have to gain trust and work harder to persuade voters.
Below is an official statement from Sanders’ Campaign Manager that was sent to EBONY.com.
Statement by Jeff Weaver, Bernie Sanders 2016 Campaign Manager December 18, 2015 Contact: Michael Briggs (802) 233-8653
Two months ago, shortly after our digital vendor who conducts modeling for our campaign told us that there was failure in the firewall that prevents campaigns from seeing one another’s data, we contacted the DNC and told them about the failure. We were concerned that our data could be compromised and we were assured at the time the firewall would be restored. Instead, we found out two days ago that once again, this sensitive and important data was compromised because the DNC and its vendor failed to protect it.
We have invested enormous campaign resources in acquiring the rights to use this proprietary information. But the DNC, in an inappropriate overreaction, has denied us access to our own data.
Let me briefly discuss the three issues involved here.
First, this is not the first time that the vendor hired by the DNC to run the voter file program, NGP VAN, has allowed serious failures to occur. On more than one occasion, they have dropped the firewall between the data of competing Democratic campaigns. That is dangerous incompetence. It was our campaign months ago that alerted the DNC to the fact that campaign data was being made available to other campaigns. At that time our campaign did not run to the media, relying instead on assurances from the vendor that the problem would be resolved. Unfortunately, the other day, the vendor once again dropped the firewall between the campaigns for some data.
Secondly, after discussion with the DNC it became clear that some of our staffers irresponsibly accessed some of the data from another campaign. That behavior is unacceptable to the Sanders campaign and we fired the staffer immediately and made certain that any information obtained was not utilized. We are now speaking to other staffers who might have been involved and further disciplinary action . Clearly, while that information was made available to our campaign because of the incompetence of the vendor, it should not have been looked at. Period.
Thirdly, rather incredibly, the leadership of the DNC has used this incident to shut down our ability to access our own information, information which is the lifeblood of any campaign. This is the information about our supporters, our volunteers, the lists of people we intend to contact in Iowa, New Hampshire and elsewhere. This is information that we have worked hard to obtain. It is our information, not the DNCs. In other words, by their action, the leadership of the Democratic National Committee is now actively attempting to undermine our campaign. This is unacceptable. Individual leaders of the DNC can support Hillary Clinton in any way they want, but they are not going to sabotage our campaign – one of the strongest grassroots campaigns in modern history.
We are announcing today that if the DNC continues to hold our data hostage, and continues to try to attack the heart and soul of our campaign, we will be in federal court this afternoon seeking an immediate injunction.
What is required here is a full and independent audit of the DNC’s handling of this data and its security from the beginning of this campaign to the present, including the incident in October that we alerted them to.
For a look at Sanders’ politics, take a look a this EBONY interview.