Elections

DNC restores Sanders access to voter data

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks to reporters and members of the Communication Workers of America (CWA), following the union's endorsement of Sanders, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015, at the CWA's headquarters in Washington.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks to reporters and members of the Communication Workers of America (CWA), following the union's endorsement of Sanders, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015, at the CWA's headquarters in Washington. AP

The Democratic National Committee and Bernie Sanders reached an agreement early Saturday to restore his presidential campaign's access to the national party’s massive voter file.

The decision, announced just after midnight, ended _ at least for now _ a feud between Sanders and DNC in which the Vermont senator accused the party of trying to help front-runner Hillary Clinton win the nomination. Clinton and Sanders will participate in their third debate Saturday night in New Hampshire.

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement that she restored the campaign’s access to the data after it had complied with her request to provide the party information.

“We are restoring the Sanders campaign’s access to the voter file, but will continue to investigate to ensure that the data that was inappropriately accessed has been deleted and is no longer in possession of the Sanders campaign,” she said.

Sanders said a computer glitch that led to the data breach was the fault of incompetence by the DNC’s vendor and that cutting off data just weeks before voting started was a deliberate over-reaction to hurt Sanders. The campaign sued the DNC late Friday, arguing that without the database, the campaign would lose some $600,000 a day in donations.

The campaign’s access to the database was expected to be restored by Saturday in time for campaign staff and volunteers to contact voters over the weekend.

“Clearly, they were very concerned about their prospects in court,” said Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager. “Now what we need to restore confidence in the DNC’s ability to secure data is an independent audit that encompasses the DNC's record this entire campaign. Transparency at the DNC is essential. We trust they have nothing to hide.”

On Friday, the Democrats’ presidential campaign suddenly erupted into a battle full of finger-pointing and accusations of sabotage as the DNC accused a Sanders aide had improperly accessed information about Clinton in a party database. It then temporarily froze out Sanders’ campaign from using the crucial vote database.

The Sanders campaign then filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia late Friday against the party, charging a breach of contract.

Clinton’s campaign joined the fray later Friday as campaign manager Robby Mook said “our data was stolen.”

On Saturday, Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said he was pleased that the Sanders campaign has agreed to submit to an independent audit to determine the full extent of the intrusion and to ensure that Sanders' voter file no longer contains any of the proprietary data.

“We believe this audit should proceed immediately, and, pending its findings, we expect further disciplinary action to be taken as appropriate,” he said.

The dispute on the eve of Saturday’s Democratic debate in New Hampshire escalated a tense feud between Sanders’ insurgent army and a Democratic establishment often accused of stacking the deck to help Clinton.

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