Clinton must decide how to address Sanders' staff's campaign data breach

WASHINGTON — In the first debate of the Democratic presidential campaign, Bernie Sanders dismissed concerns about Hillary Clinton's use of a private email account and server while she served as secretary of state, saying Americans were tired of talking about her "damn emails.

See Full Article

"

As the candidates take the stage for their last match-up of the year, will Clinton return the favor?

Friday's revelations that four members of Sanders' campaign staff improperly accessed voter information compiled by Clinton's campaign shook up what had been a relatively civil race. It is a development that has the potential to transform a sleepy Saturday night debate into something far livelier.

The question facing Clinton is how forcefully to confront Sanders about the actions of his campaign staff and whether to defend the reaction of the Democratic National Committee, which cut off Sanders' access to the party's voter database after learning of the breach. The DNC said it would restore access Saturday.

At the center of the dispute is an extensive trove of voter information maintained by the DNC. The campaigns are able to add their own information to that database, information they use to target voters and anticipate what issues might motivate them to cast ballots.

In Clinton's case, campaign manager Robby Mook said the information stored in the database and illicitly reviewed by Sanders' team included "fundamental parts of our strategy." Experts said the Sanders campaign employees who accessed the Clinton voter information without authorization appear to have broken the law.

"Our data was stolen," Mook said. "The data that they reached in and took from our campaign is effectively the strategic road map in those states."

It was an allegation rejected out of hand by Sanders' campaign, which filed a federal lawsuit against the DNC seeking to regain access to the voter records. The lawsuit argued the DNC's actions have caused Sanders' campaign "injury and financial losses."

"It's outrageous to suggest that our campaign 'stole' any data," said Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs. "What is true is the data we collected and need to run a winning campaign is now being stolen from us by a DNC dominated by Clinton people."

Early Saturday, the DNC said the Sanders campaign had complied with its request for information about the incident. "Based on this 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," DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement.

Still, Sanders' team had worked to turn what seemed like a clear breach of ethics — and potentially the law — into a political advantage. Even before the lawsuit was filed, the Sanders campaign sent a fundraising email to supporters that said the DNC has placed "its thumb on the scales in support of Hillary Clinton's campaign."

Notably, the email made no mention of the campaign's decision to fire a staffer involved in the data breach and the admission of campaign manager Jeff Weaver that the staffer's actions were "unacceptable."

The controversy over the data breach comes as Sanders was already struggling to draw attention to his economically-focused campaign message after the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, shifted the focus of the 2016 campaign to national security.

"He's got to refocus Democrats onto his issue ground," said Paul Maslin, a Democratic pollster unaffiliated with either campaign. "It's been usurped by events."

Throughout his insurgent bid for the White House, Sanders has cast himself as being above politics as usual. The independent senator from Vermont has vowed to avoid personal attacks and other kinds of political dirty tricks.

Clinton aides argued Friday that message is undermined by the newly revealed actions of his staff. They said the information the four Sanders staffers reviewed in 25 separate searches included details on voter turnout and candidate preferences, revealing their campaign's approach in early voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire.

"This was an egregious breach of data and ethics," said campaign spokesman Brian Fallon.

But for all the bluster Friday, Clinton could choose to downplay the issue entirely once on the debate stage — as Sanders did with his dismissal of questions about her use of email. By doing so, she would likely avoid alienating Sanders supporters — the passionate liberal voters she'll need to win the general election should she capture the Democratic nomination.

And there were already signs of détente.

Only hours after hosting a conference call for reporters with Mook, during which the Clinton campaign forcefully accused Sanders team of theft, Fallon said in a statement the campaign hoped the issue would be resolved and the Sanders campaign team would regain access "to their voter files right away."

A few more hours later, they did.

Associated Press writers Ken Thomas and Julie Bykowicz contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Court delays can’t be solved with money, personnel alone: defence attorney

    Canada News CTV News
    Justice ministers searching for ways to speed up Canada’s court system and avoid cases being thrown out because of unreasonable delays aren’t looking in the right places, says a noted criminal defence attorney. Federal and provincial justice ministers are meeting Friday in Gatineau, Que. Source
  • Canada's economy didn't grow in February, StatsCan data shows

    Canada News CBC News
    Canada's economy didn't expand in February, as a slight uptick in the service sector was offset by a small decline in the goods-producing sector. Statistics Canada reported Friday that the construction, real estate, finance and insurance sectors continued to expand, but manufacturing, mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction all declined. Source
  • Man fatally beats pregnant wife with pipe wrench: police

    World News CTV News
    HOLLYWOOD, Fla. - Police say a 48-year-old Florida man used a pipe wrench to beat his pregnant wife to death in front of their four children after an argument over whether the baby was his. Source
  • Trekker rescued after 47 days in Nepal celebrates birthday

    World News CTV News
    KATHMANDU, Nepal -- A Taiwanese trekker who was rescued after 47 days on a mountain in Nepal celebrated his 21st birthday at a hospital in the capital on Friday. A happy Liang Sheng-yueh cut cheese and chocolate cakes in his hospital room in Kathmandu, where hospital staff and a government minister sang "Happy Birthday. Source
  • Florida man fatally beat pregnant wife with wrench as children watched: Police

    World News Toronto Sun
    HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — Police say a 48-year-old Florida man used a pipe wrench to beat his pregnant wife to death in front of their four children after an argument over whether the baby was his. The SunSentinel reports Claude Sejour called 911 and waited for police outside his Hollywood home Wednesday night. Source
  • UK police shoot 1, arrest 6 others in counterterror raids

    World News Toronto Sun
    LONDON — British police said Friday they had disrupted an active terrorist plot with raids in London and southeastern England. One woman was shot and seriously injured in the police swoop. Six suspects were arrested on terrorism-related charges, police said. Source
  • Pope seeks Christian-Muslim unity in Egypt

    World News CBC News
    ?Pope Francis is brushing off security concerns to forge ahead on Friday with a two-day trip to Egypt aimed at presenting a united Christian-Muslim front that repudiates violence committed in God's name. Three weeks after Islamic militants staged twin Palm Sunday church attacks, Francis is to land in Cairo in the early afternoon for a series of deeply symbolic encounters with Egypt's religious and political leadership. Source
  • German ban on full-face veils for public servants goes ahead

    World News CTV News
    Veiled muslim women take part in protest in London, against France banning the wearing of Islamic veils in public, Monday, April 11, 2011. Source
  • Woman dies after Stockholm truck attack; death toll now 5

    World News Toronto Sun
    STOCKHOLM — A woman in her 60s who was injured in the April 7 truck attack in Stockholm has died, Swedish authorities said Friday, raising the death toll to five. The Stockholm police said in a statement the woman, who has not been publicly identified, had been hospitalized in southern Sweden. Source
  • In Egypt, pope seeks Christian-Muslim rejection of violence

    World News CTV News
    VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis is brushing off security concerns to forge ahead on Friday with a two-day trip to Egypt aimed at presenting a united Christian-Muslim front that repudiates violence committed in God's name. Source