Sanders Campaign Improperly Accessed Clinton Voter Data

[Content Note: Privacy violations.]

The Washington Post reports this morning that the Democratic National Committee has shut off Bernie Sanders' campaign access to voter information after staffers exploited a glitch in the software to improperly access "confidential voter information gathered by the rival campaign of Hillary Clinton."
Jeff Weaver, the Vermont senator's campaign manager, acknowledged that a staffer had viewed the information but blamed a software vendor hired by the DNC for a glitch that allowed access. Weaver said one Sanders staffer was fired over the incident.

The discovery sparked alarm at the DNC, which promptly shut off the Sanders campaign's access to the strategically crucial list of likely Democratic voters.

The DNC maintains the master list and rents it to national and state campaigns, which then add their own, proprietary information gathered by field workers and volunteers. Firewalls are supposed to prevent campaigns from viewing data gathered by their rivals.

NGP VAN, the vendor that handles the master file, said the incident occurred Wednesday while a patch was being applied to the software. The process briefly opened a window into proprietary information from other campaigns, said the company's chief, Stu Trevelyan. He said a full audit will be conducted.

The DNC has told the Sanders campaign that it will not be allowed access to the data again until it provides an explanation as well as assurances that all Clinton data has been destroyed.

...Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs said four Sanders campaign staffers accessed Clinton data, and that three of them did so at the direction of their boss, Josh Uretsky, who was the operative fired.
So, first of all, I just want to underline that there is no indication that Senator Sanders directed his staff to breach Clinton's records. (And, for the record, I don't think he did.) What responsibility Sanders has is for his team, and this appears to be the third incident recently in which Jeff Weaver and Co. have made Sanders look bad: Weaver was the one who made the shitty comments about how Sanders' campaign would be "willing to consider" Clinton for vice-president, then defended his demeaning commentary as "edgy or snarky but nothing more"; Weaver was the one who "declared victory" after a Sanders staffer pitched a fit over last-minute changes to a debate format following the bombing in Paris, making the Senator look unable to effectively pivot to respond to crisis; and now Weaver is the one who is redirecting blame for his staff's unethical and illegal breach of confidential voter data that doesn't belong to them.

Further, the story reports that Weaver says "the campaign has flagged similar problems with the software for the DNC in the past," which he's obviously saying in order to reinforce his contention that the breach is the vendor's fault, but that raises the question as to why, if this was not the first time the campaign encountered the problem, the staff was not properly prepped to not exploit any breaches.

Also in the news today: "The week before the last Democratic presidential debate of the year began with Senator Bernie Sanders's campaign pulling a negative digital ad it was running against Hillary Clinton after reporters caught wind of it [despite the fact that Sanders] has said with pride that he doesn't run negative ads... The ad was pulled after reporters began asking about it. Aides blamed the spot on a misunderstanding."

Again, I don't think these things are happening under Sanders' explicit direction. But that raises concerns about how disconnected from and/or unconcerned with the actions of his staff the candidate is.

And it's important to understand that the sort of team a presidential candidate puts together for a campaign indicates what kind of administration they'd have in the White House. Campaigning translates into governing; campaign managers segue into chiefs of staff. The people with whom candidates surround themselves during campaigns are the people who end up surrounding them in the Oval Office.

So it matters a great deal that Sanders seems satisfied with Weaver, and satisfied with redirection of blame and "misunderstandings" as explanations for fuck-ups.

This is the nitty-gritty stuff of assessing candidates' ability to effectively govern. Positions are only one part of any candidate's qualifications.

Sanders is running for president, not polemicist.

What he says is important, but it's not the only thing that matters. The truth is, irrespective of what a strong advocate for terrific policy any president may be, that president will fail if s/he doesn't have an effective team.

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