By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: September 1, 2016
President Obama holds the highest office in the United States. He has a law degree from Harvard Law and was a former editor of the Harvard Law Review. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton holds a law degree from Yale University. Despite the legal background of the President and former Secretary of State, both seem to be winking at the serious legal issues surrounding the former Democratic National Committee Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Wasserman Schultz has been sued along with the DNC in the Federal District Court of South Florida, where the lead plaintiff, Carol Wilding, resides. The lawsuit is on behalf of Senator Bernie Sanders’ supporters and alleges fraud, negligent misrepresentation, deceptive conduct, unjust enrichment, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence. There are already more than 100 named plaintiffs and the court was told in the amended complaint that an additional 1,000 have signed retainer agreements to serve as class representatives.
There appears to be little question that the fiduciary role that Wasserman Schultz was assigned under the Charter of the DNC was not met and that key staff working under Wasserman Schultz engaged in a full scale conspiracy to undermine the Presidential campaign of Sanders. Emails leaked by Wikileaks in July show Wasserman Schultz referring to Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, as “an ass,” “particularly scummy” and a “damn liar” as her staff conspired in emails to characterize Sanders as an atheist and his campaign a “mess.” (Sanders has said he is not an atheist.) As this plotting was taking place, the DNC had set up a joint fundraising account with Hillary Clinton which was raising millions of dollars and effectively functioning as if Clinton had no primary challenger.
Article Five, Section 4 of the DNC Charter mandates the following:
“The National Chairperson shall serve full time and shall receive such compensation as may be determined by agreement between the Chairperson and the Democratic National Committee. In the conduct and management of the affairs and procedures of the Democratic National Committee, particularly as they apply to the preparation and conduct of the Presidential nomination process, the Chairperson shall exercise impartiality and evenhandedness as between the Presidential candidates and campaigns. The Chairperson shall be responsible for ensuring that the national officers and staff of the Democratic National Committee maintain impartiality and evenhandedness during the Democratic Party Presidential nominating process.” [Emphasis added.]
Using the most generous interpretation of this Charter mandate, it would appear that Wasserman Schultz first violated the requirement that she serve full time since she was simultaneously serving full time as a member of the House of Representatives. (It is unknown at this time if she received a waiver of this requirement from the DNC Board.) While Wasserman Schultz has claimed on television that she was unaware of the plotting against Sanders by her staff, she was certainly aware of the biased joint fundraising committee established between the DNC and Hillary Clinton. To date, that joint fundraising committee has raised $142 million according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Another DNC memorandum which was leaked on June 15, 2016 by a hacker calling himself Guccifer 2.0, clearly shows that the DNC had a formal plan to use its considerable resources to elevate Hillary Clinton to the winning slot in the primary. The memorandum is dated May 26, 2015 – almost a full month after Senator Bernie Sanders had declared his candidacy. The Federal lawsuit against Wasserman Schultz and the DNC has submitted the memorandum as an Exhibit in the lawsuit, explaining that:
“the DNC Memo makes no mention of any Democratic candidate except Clinton, and builds the DNC’s election strategy on the assumption that Clinton will be the nominee, with no doubts attached. Rather than reflecting an ‘impartial’ or ‘evenhanded’ approach to the nominating process, as required by the Charter, the DNC Memo strongly indicates that the DNC’s entire approach to the process was guided by the singular goal of elevating Clinton to the general election contest.”
One part of the recommended strategy outlined in the memo was to “[u]se specific hits to muddy the waters around ethics, transparency and campaign finance attacks on HRC.” HRC stands for Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The DNC’s new management seems to have acknowledged that there was wrongdoing. It released a statement shortly after the Wikileaks’ leaked emails created a media storm, stating:
“On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic party for inexcusable remarks made over email. The DNC does not — and will not — tolerate disrespectful language exhibited toward our candidates.”
Wasserman Schultz and three of the key DNC officials implicated in the emails resigned their posts at the DNC.
None of this, however, appears to have altered the high respect felt toward Wasserman Schultz by the President of the United States and the woman who seeks to replace him, Hillary Clinton. The Ivy League law graduates have not, apparently, heard of fiduciary law or, at the very least, don’t take it seriously.
The White House released this official statement from Obama on July 24, after the revelations were in the media from the Wikileaks emails. Obama said, in part:
“For the last eight years, Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has had my back. This afternoon, I called her to let her know that I am grateful. Her leadership of the DNC has meant that we had someone who brought Democrats together not just for my re-election campaign, but for accomplishing the shared goals we have had for our country…Michelle and I are grateful for her efforts, we know she will continue to serve our country as a member of Congress from Florida and she will always be our dear friend.”
The President of the United States appears to be suggesting that Wasserman Schultz should be forgiven for breaching her fiduciary duty to the millions of Democratic Party members who wanted Sanders as the Presidential nominee, not Clinton, simply because Wasserman Schultz had the President’s back. But that is not what the law or the DNC Charter requires.
According to multiple media outlets, Hillary Clinton’s reaction to all of this hubris was to announce that Wasserman Schultz would serve as the Honorary Chair of her campaign’s 50-state program to elect other Democrats to office.
Obama and Clinton’s casual indifference to what appears to millions of Americans as serious illegality and wrongdoing is fueling public demands for change in the culture and operational workings of the Democratic Party. As we see it, that can’t happen soon enough.