18 December 2015

The Bernie Sanders Campaign Just Sued the DNC

After repeated failures by the DNC's politically connected vendor to properly secure candidate databases, a techie at the Sanders campaign did something wicked stupid, and the DNC cut off the campaign form their own data:
A fight between the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders and the Democratic leadership went public on Friday as the party punished the campaign over a data breach and the Sanders camp sued the party and accused it of actively trying to help Hillary Clinton.

The dispute came after members of Mr. Sanders’ data team were found to have gotten access to, searched and stored proprietary information from Hillary Clinton’s team during a software glitch with an important voter database. The Democratic National Committee acted swiftly to deny the Sanders campaign future access to the party’s 50-state voter file, which contains information about millions of Democrats and is invaluable to campaigns on a daily basis.

Mr. Sanders’s campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, accused the party committee of stacking the scales to help Mrs. Clinton, claiming that it was being unfairly penalized for the data breach. At a news conference, Mr. Weaver insisted that the campaign had dealt with the situation by firing its national data director. Later Friday, the campaign filed a federal lawsuit seeking to have its access to the file restored.

The Democratic committee is “actively” working to “undermine” the Sanders campaign, Mr. Weaver said, reflecting its longstanding frustration that the party apparatus, which is supposed to be neutral, is lining up behind Mrs. Clinton.


At issue is a database of voter information, with millions of records, that the party makes available to campaigns for a fee, and is “heart and soul” of modern presidential campaigns, as the Sanders campaign put it. State parties feed the list with information including names, addresses, ethnicity if available, and voting history. Usually, public election records show which elections a person has voted in, though who they voted for is secret.

The Democratic Party then adds data from commercially available lists that track such information as television habits and magazine subscriptions. They match voter names to donor lists created by both political and nonpolitical organizations.

Each campaign then inputs data gathered by its own staff, gleaned from door knocks, phone calls, emails and other sources. With the data, they can assign each voter their own “score” signifying how likely they are to vote for a candidate. The scores advise everything from decisions about whose doors to knock on to which voters might donate.

It is this use of the massive combination of data that drives modern campaigns, mastered by the Obama operations in 2008 and 2012, which had a team of more than 50 people poring over the information to best target their fund-raising, persuasion and voter turnout efforts.

The breach occurred Wednesday when the firm that handles the list, NGP VAN, was making a tweak to its system and inadvertently dropped the firewall between the campaigns for approximately four hours, according to the court filing by the Sanders campaign. That meant that the campaigns could see each other’s information. But only the Sanders campaign gained access to data that was proprietary.


In its lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Washington, the Sanders campaign argued that the party had no right to terminate the licensing agreement that allowed the campaign access to the voter file. The campaign estimated that the loss of access would cost it $600,000 in contributions, a serious blow because it has “been financed primarily with contributions from individual donors rather than Political Action Committees.”

“However, the damage to the campaign’s political viability, as a result of being unable to communicate with constituents and voters, is far more severe, and incapable of measurement,” the suit said. Party representatives said they had not seen the suit and thus could not comment.

One show of support for Mr. Sanders’s case came from David Axelrod, a senior adviser for President Obama’s campaigns. He called the penalty “harsh,” saying on Twitter that, without evidence that the campaign hierarchy knew about data poaching, it appear that the “DNC is putting finger on scale.”

Josh Uretsky, the fired national data director from the Sanders campaign, also called the punishment “an overreaction” and insisted that he had merely been trying to verify the data breach, adding: “We did so in a way that we know would create a record that the D.N.C. and NGP VAN would have access to. We deliberately did not download or take custodianship of the records.” Mr. Utresky and Mr. Sanders’ aides did not address why multiple users from the campaign searched the Clinton data.

Mr. Uretsky acknowledged that Clinton data was being looked at, but said his intent was to see whether the Sanders campaign’s data might also be vulnerable.
Utretsky did something classically stupid, and he deserved to be fired.

This is kind of the problematic "IT Bro" bullsh%$ that plagues the computer professions.

The fact that this is all over the news, when repeated failures by this vendor, NGP VAN, over the past few months got buried and ignored does seem to indicate that the always thuggish and incompetent Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is seizing on this incident to once again to put her thumb on the scales in favor of Hillary Clinton.

After all, the stupid sh%$ that the Sanders hapless IT dweeb pulled over a short time, "Over a period of more than 40 minutes," so the action taken appears to be excessive.

The fact the DNC aggressively leaked of the whole affair to the press, further reinforces the perception that DWS is deliberately f%$#ing the Sanders campaign.

So we have a lawsuit against the DNC to the tune of $600,000.00 a day.

Can we please fire Debbie Wasserman-Schultz now?  She is hopeless and hapless.

The official statement by the Sanders campaign comes after the break:

Statement by Jeff Weaver, Bernie Sanders 2016 Campaign Manager
December 18, 2015

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 may be taken. 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.


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