- The Washington Times - Friday, December 18, 2015

Presidential candidate Bernard Sanders sued the Democratic National Committee Friday afternoon to demand access to the party’s voter files after the DNC suspended him for illicitly accessing the campaign files of his competitor, Hillary Clinton.

It’s the latest move in what’s become an embarrassing black eye for both Mr. Sanders and the DNC, with the party accusing Mr. Sanders of playing dirty, and the candidate saying the DNC is trying to undermine his campaign in order to help Mrs. Clinton.

For her part, Mrs. Clinton chirped from the outside, with campaign manager Robby Mook saying flatly that Mr. Sanders‘ staff “stole data from our campaign” and insisting on an outside monitor to ensure all of the data has been expunged.

“This information is really key to our campaign and to our strategy, and for that reason this breach is totally unacceptable, and may have been a violation of the law,” Mr. Mook told reporters Friday evening.

The DNC on Thursday suspended Mr. Sanders‘ access to its voter data file, which contains extensive details of the demographics, voting history and other personal information of tens of millions of Americans. Campaigns pay the DNC for access to those files, and use them to model their own strategies for turning out voters in caucuses and primaries.

The DNC said the contractor that runs the data file detected two dozen breaches where Sanders employees accessed Clinton data, and even tried to download it.

Mr. Sanders‘ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, says one staffer has been fired and others are being questioned for acting “irresponsibly.” But the campaign also says the DNC had no legal right to suspend its access, and said it appears Democratic Party leaders are trying to aid Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.

“By their action, the leadership of the Democratic National Committee is now actively attempting to undermine our campaign,” Mr. Weaver said. “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.”

DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, speaking on CNN, said suspending Mr. Sanders‘ access was the only fair move because he broke the terms of the access agreement.

The fight comes a day before Mr. Sanders, Mrs. Clinton and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley are scheduled to face off in the third Democratic presidential debate.

Mrs. Clinton maintains a wide lead in national polls and is ahead in Iowa, but Mr. Sanders tops her in polling in New Hampshire.

Mr. Mook, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager, said he was shocked to learn Mr. Sanders was trying to fundraise off of the incident, saying it didn’t appear the Sanders campaign was taking the breach very seriously.

“Their staff stole data from our campaign and they are now fundraising off of it. I’ll leave it to voters what that says or doesn’t say,” he said.

He said as long as the Sanders campaign has the information, they have a roadmap to Mrs. Clinton’s strategy in certain states. He called for an independent monitor to make sure the data has all been expunged by the Sanders campaign.

Computer-related problems have plagued Democrats all year. Mrs. Clinton had her push for the White House dented after it was revealed she rejected use of an official email account during her four years at the State Department, instead using an account on a server she kept at her home in New York. The arrangement went against department policy, and the emails are now being released on a rolling monthly basis in accordance with a federal court order.

In that situation, it was Republicans demanding Mrs. Clinton submit her server to an independent monitor — a demand she rejected. Mrs. Clinton eventually had to turn the server over to the FBI, which is investigating the arrangement.

Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said Friday the Sanders breach of voter files was not an accident, and Sanders staffers not only looked at the data but at one point tried — apparently unsuccessfully — to download data into a spreadsheet for storage and use later.

Mr. Sanders is paying $10,000 a month for access to the files, but in his court documents he said losing access to the files and his campaign’s work on them is costing his operation more than $600,000 a day in value because he cannot access mailing lists he’s used to raise money.

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