- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 13, 2020

Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) is alleging Sen. Bernard Sanders’ presidential campaign has stolen its grassroots door-knocking strategy and branding.

Cliff Maloney, YAL president, said that Mr. Sanders’ campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination is using his organization’s “Operation Win at the Door” branding to solicit grassroots door-knockers through text message without YAL’s consent.

“Bernie’s campaign is using YAL’s ‘Operation Win at the Door’ branding to solicit door-knockers via text message — branding that we’ve spent three years building,” Mr. Maloney said. “They must be realizing how much our strategy of engaging voters directly at the doorstep is impacting elections.”

Text messages reviewed by The Washington Times show a solicitation from someone claiming to represent the Sanders campaign asking people to join “the largest grassroots campaign in the country — Operation Win at the Door.”

Dan Backer, YAL’s attorney, sent Mr. Sanders’ campaign a cease-and-desist letter Thursday saying YAL first used the branding in 2018 on its grassroots campaign that involved knocking on 1.5 million doors. Mr. Backer’s letter said the Sanders campaign’s use of the same name gives a false impression that the libertarian group supports Mr. Sanders, while it opposes him strongly.

“Your bastardization of our clients’ intellectual property and flagrant attempt to redistribute their hard-won goodwill — a product of tremendous labor on the part of our client — is unauthorized and un-American,” Mr. Backer wrote to the Sanders campaign. “You neither asked for nor received authorization from my client to use the name Operation Win at the Door. Your use of the name Operation Win at the Door is inherently confusing for donors and the general public and you are clearly attempting to target the same audience as Young Americans for Liberty by deceptively soliciting and/or communicating with supporters using the name Operation Win at the Door.”

Mr. Backer’s letter said the “bald-faced deceit” of Mr. Sanders’ campaign violates the law and intellectual property rights held by YAL.

The Sanders campaign did not immediately provide comment on YAL’s allegations.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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