Political Party/527

Democratic National Committee (DNC)

Logo of the Democratic Party of the United States. Light blue D inside a darker blue circle. (link)
Website:

democrats.org/

Type:

Political Party

Formation:

1848

Location:

Washington, D.C.

Chair:

Tom Perez

Deputy Chair:

Keith Ellison

Finance Chair:

Henry R. Muñoz III

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is the governing body of the Democratic Party. The DNC sets the Democratic Party’s platform, facilitates the Democratic presidential nomination process, and coordinates state-level strategy.

As of 2022, its chair is former unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senate from South Carolina Jaime Harrison.

Structure

Senior Leadership

As of 2022, the Democratic National Committee was chaired by Jaime Harrison. Harrison previously worked as the Chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party and was a Democratic candidate for Senate, a bid which he ultimately lost despite setting a fundraising record for South Carolina Senate races. [1] Harrison was appointed an Associate Chair of the DNC in 2017 by his predecessor Tom Perez. In early 2021, then-President-elect Joe Biden designated Harrison to replace Perez as head of the DNC. [2]

Five vice-chairs work under Harrison. As of 2022, they include Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and U.S. Representative Filemon Vela Jr. (D-TX), and Association of State Democratic Committees Chairman Ken Martin. [3]

The DNC’s leadership also includes entrepreneur Virginia McGregor as treasurer, activist Jason Rae as secretary, and attorney Chris Korge II as finance chair. [4]

Democrats Abroad

In addition to the state-level, territorial-level, and District of Columbia Democratic Party organizations operating under the DNC, the DNC oversees Democrats Abroad, which organizes the nine million registered Democrats living outside the United States. Democrats Abroad’s main function is to register Democrats living in foreign countries to vote in elections. [5]

Democratic National Convention

The DNC organizes the Democratic National Convention every four years to nominate the Democratic Party’s candidate for President. Democratic candidates compete for the support of about 4,800 party delegates spread throughout the country. The first candidate to receive a majority of the delegate votes is chosen to as the Democratic nominee. [6]

In addition to the nearly 4,000 “pledged delegates” awarded to nominees by the states through primaries, caucuses, and other voting processes, the Convention also includes nearly 800 “unpledged delegates,” commonly known as “superdelegates.” Unlike normal delegates, superdelegates may vote independently for any candidate of their personal choosing. The superdelegates include the sitting Democratic governors, Democratic U.S. Representatives, Democratic U.S. Senators. “Distinguished party leaders,” including all former Democratic Presidents, Vice Presidents, and Congressional leaders, also attend as superdelegates. More than half of the superdelegates are party members who are elected by the DNC who may or may not have elected or unelected political positions. [7]

The superdelegate system has been accused of being undemocratic by permitting the DNC’s leadership to override popular support and sway the party electorate to choose the Democratic Party leadership’s preferred candidate. [8]

In the 2020 nomination process, the DNC revised the primary rules to limit the voting power of superdelegates. Most notably, if a candidate wins more than 50% of the pledged delegates, then he or she is chosen as the nominee and super delegate votes are ignored. These reforms were widely seen as a reaction to criticisms of the DNC regarding the defeat of Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary elections, after Hillary Clinton received more than 10 times as many superdelegate votes. [9]

Fundraising

During the 2020 election cycle, the Democratic National Committee raised $457,426,472, more than twice as much as it raised in 2018, and 50% more than in 2016. As of December 2020, the DNC reported over $24 million in cash reserves. [10]

Major Donors in 2020

In 2020, the DNC’s largest donor was Mike Bloomberg 2020, the political action committee that formerly supported the candidacy of billionaire Michael Bloomberg. After dropping out of the race in March of 2020, Bloomberg transferred $18 million to the DNC, making it by far the largest donation in the DNC’s history. Americans for Public Trust, a right-of-center government watch organization, challenged the transfer, alleging that the move violated campaign finance regulations because Bloomberg had already surpassed the personal party contribution limit. Regulators did not block the donation. [11] [12]

Companies whose employees and executives led other contributors to the DNC in the 2020 election cycle were Alphabet Inc. (Google’s parent company), Bain Capital, Microsoft, the University of California, and Renaissance Technologies. [13]

Federal Lobbyist Donations

In 2008, DNC finance chair and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) announced a prohibition on donations from federal lobbyists, emulating President Barack Obama’s successful 2008 Presidential campaign in which he refused to accept donations from lobbyists. In 2016, former DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) ended the policy. [14]

Expenditures

In the 2020 election cycle, the DNC spent $441,984,879, compared to just under $180 million in 2018 and under $370 million in 2016. [15] The DNC helped to coordinate $472,385 in expenditures on behalf of the Presidential campaign of Joe Biden. [16]

In the 2020 election cycle, the DNC provided more funding to GMMB Consulting than any other entity, sending the firm 11 payments totaling $26 million. Bully Pulpit Interactive, founded by former Obama campaign staffer Andrew Bleeker, was the second largest recipient of DNC funding, receiving 25 payments totaling almost $25 million. RWT Productions received 317 payments totaling over $23 million. [17]

Among state-level Democratic Party organizations, the Democratic Party of Florida was the largest recipient of DNC support, receiving 88 donations totaling over $10 million. The other largest recipients were the Democratic Parties of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Arizona. [18]

The DNC directly contributed $10,000 to four Democratic candidates: U.S. Representative Elaine Luria (D-VA), U.S. Representative Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), and U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA). [19]

Controversies

Watergate

In early 1972, persons associated with then-President Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign were implicated in an attempt to break into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. and to plant electronic monitoring devices to steal campaign intelligence. Four burglars were caught on their second break-in attempt while replacing microphone equipment. Though President Nixon was unaware of the initial plot, he denied the involvement of his administration, and then engaged in various acts of obstruction against official investigations, including paying hush money to the burglars and ordering the CIA to hinder the FBI’s investigation. Nixon was eventually ordered to turn over tape recordings of private discussions in the Oval Office, and he was recommended for impeachment by the House Judiciary Committee. Fearing removal from office, Nixon became the first and only president to resign from office in 1974. He was pardoned by his successor, President Gerald Ford. [20]

Chinagate

In September 1996, the Los Angeles Times broke a story alleging that the DNC was receiving millions of dollars in donations from the government of the People’s Republic of China through various front-organizations and individuals. Amid the controversy, the DNC returned $3 million in questionable donations, which largely came from DNC fundraisers John Huang and Yah Lin Trie. [21]

In 2002, the DNC agreed to pay $115,000 in fines and turn over an additional $128,000 to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for various fundraising violations committed in 1995 and 1996. The FEC eventually determined that a set of donations totaling more than $1 million were likely financed and coordinated by the Chinese government in a bid to support the reelection of former President Bill Clinton against Republican challenger Bob Dole. The FEC commissioned $719,500 in fines in total, the largest being $120,000 levied against the International Buddhist Progress Society, a front for the Chinese government. [22]

The FEC initially recommended far larger fines on the DNC, but the three Democratic commissioners on the FEC voted to block the extra fines. [23]

2016 Computer Hacks

In 2015 and 2016, hackers infiltrated DNC servers and stole thousands of private emails, campaign memos, and pieces of opposition research. In June of 2016, cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike released a report detailing evidence of two DNC security breaches, including one which had been ongoing for at least a year. Crowdstrike attributed the hacks to two separate Russian intelligence agencies. The following day, an anonymous hacker using the pseudonym Guccifer 2.0 claimed responsibility for the hacks and claimed that he had no association with the Russian government. Cybersecurity firms Fidelis Cybersecurity and Mandiant then investigated the DNC servers and corroborated Crowdstrike’s claims that Russian intelligence agencies were behind the attacks. [24]

While the Russian government denied involvement, a U.S. government investigation report alleged that the email hacking was perpetrated by Russian military intelligence, the GRU. [25]

Podesta Email Leaks

In July 2016, Wikileaks released 20,000 emails from the personal account of former White House Chief of Staff and Hilary Clinton presidential campaign chair John Podesta. The emails revealed embarrassing details about the DNC’s behind-the-scenes conduct, including Clinton’s close ties to Wall Street banks, brainstorming sessions for political hit jobs against then-Republican candidate Donald Trump, and evidence of the DNC leadership’s bias against Sen. Sanders in the Democratic primaries. [26]

Though Wikileaks founder Julian Assange refused to reveal the source of the emails, there was widespread media speculation that Russian intelligence had hacked the DNC and given the emails to Wikileaks to sway the presidential election against Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. [27]

In July 2016, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump was widely criticized by media outlets for publicly inviting the Russian government to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails to discover the location of 30,000 emails Clinton deleted after revelations that she had been using a private email server during her time as Secretary of State under President Obama. [28]

The report of the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections concluded that while Russian military intelligence was behind the spear-phishing attack on Podesta, there was no evidence that Trump campaign officials or people connected to Trump had coordinated with the Russian hacking effort. [29]

Accusations of Collusion against Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Presidential Primaries

Both during and after the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries, critics accused DNC leadership of colluding against left-wing Sen. Bernie Sanders in favor of establishment Democrat Hillary Clinton. The Podesta emails revealed that DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other top-ranking officials privately supported Clinton and derided Sanders. For instance, one group of emails showed DNC officials trying to get Sen. Sanders to reveal his religion during speeches in West Virginia and Kentucky to diminish his popularity with Christian voters. While no emails indicate explicit attempts to rig the election against Sen. Sanders, the emails revealed bias among DNC leadership. [30]

Following the leaks, Wasserman Schultz and the DNC leadership publicly apologized to Sanders and his supporters. One group of Sanders supporters responded by chanting “lock her up” at a protest against Clinton in Philadelphia. [31] In late July 2016, Wasserman Schultz resigned from the DNC along with many of her aides. President Trump accused Clinton of pressuring Wasserman Schultz to resign, though the Clinton campaign denied the accusation. [32]

In her 2017 book, Hacks: The Inside Story of Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House former DNC interim chair Donna Brazile detailed a plausible case for the DNC rigging the primaries against Sanders. According to Brazile, the DNC took out tens of millions of dollars’ worth of debt to finance the re-election of President Barack Obama in 2012. The DNC had planned to pay off its debt by the 2016 Presidential election, but the DNC was still $2 million in debt by 2016. Brazile alleged that the DNC made a deal with Clinton to use her campaign funds to pay off the debt in return for increased control over the DNC. Allegedly, Clinton used this influence to hire loyalists in key positions and tilt the DNC against her main primary opponent, Sen. Sanders. [33]

Brazile would later claim that further investigations found “no evidence” that the Democratic primaries were rigged against Sanders. Likewise, Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) publicly stated that the primaries were rigged, and then later recanted her statement. [34]

As evidence of collusion, many of Sen. Sanders’s supporters pointed to the behavior of Democratic superdelegates, who could independently choose which candidate to support rather than following the will of voting constituents. Of the nearly 800 superdelegates, Sanders received only 45 votes, while Clinton received 571. Though Clinton would eventually win by 1,000 votes, supporters of Sen. Sanders have argued that the superdelegates’ overwhelming support for Clinton swung the Democratic National Convention’s momentum and propelled Clinton to victory in the primaries. [35]

According to Vox founder Ezra Klein, although the DNC’s leadership and Clinton’s appointees wanted Clinton to win, the changes they implemented in the DNC’s processes actually helped Sen. Sanders and penalized other Democratic contenders, including then-Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. Klein has argued that by shoring up DNC support before the primaries, Clinton eliminated mainstream Democratic competitors, and cleared the field for a left-wing candidate like Sen. Sanders to have a chance in the race. Meanwhile, Klein argued, the process changes implemented by Clinton appointees in the DNC were innocuous and had no serious impact on the primaries. [36]

After the election, a group of Sen. Sanders’s supporters filed Wilding v. DNC Services Corp., a class-action lawsuit against the DNC on the grounds of fraud for allegedly rigging the Democratic primaries against Sen. Sanders. The case was dismissed in federal court. Though the judge did not dispute the claims of bias against Sanders in the DNC leadership, he found no evidence that the DNC had violated its legal parameters or election law. [37]

References

  1. “Leadership.” Democrats, February 8, 2021. https://democrats.org/who-we-are/leadership-2-2/. ^
  2. [1] Sprunt, Barbara. “Biden Taps Jaime Harrison To Lead Democratic National Committee.” NPR. NPR, January 14, 2021. https://www.npr.org/2021/01/14/956885070/biden-taps-jaime-harrison-to-lead-democratic-national-committee. ^
  3. “Leadership.” Democrats, February 8, 2021. https://democrats.org/who-we-are/leadership-2-2/. ^
  4. “Leadership.” Democrats.org. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://democrats.org/who-we-are/leadership-2-2/. ^
  5.  “Meet and Join Our Global Caucuses.” Democrats Abroad. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.democratsabroad.org/. ^
  6. Scott, Dylan; Nilsen, Ella. “Bernie Sanders vs. the superdelegates, explained.” Vox.org. March 4, 2020. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.vox.com/2020/3/4/21148906/bernie-sanders-2020-superdelegates-explained. ^
  7. Scott, Dylan; Nilsen, Ella. “Bernie Sanders vs. the superdelegates, explained.” Vox.org. March 4, 2020. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.vox.com/2020/3/4/21148906/bernie-sanders-2020-superdelegates-explained. ^
  8. Scott, Dylan; Nilsen, Ella. “Bernie Sanders vs. the superdelegates, explained.” Vox.org. March 4, 2020. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.vox.com/2020/3/4/21148906/bernie-sanders-2020-superdelegates-explained. ^
  9. Scott, Dylan; Nilsen, Ella. “Bernie Sanders vs. the superdelegates, explained.” Vox.org. March 4, 2020. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.vox.com/2020/3/4/21148906/bernie-sanders-2020-superdelegates-explained. ^
  10. “Fundraising Overview.” Open Secrets. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/parties/totals.php?cmte=DNC&cycle=2020. ^
  11. “Fundraising Overview.” Open Secrets. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/parties/totals.php?cmte=DNC&cycle=2020. ^
  12. Parti, Tarini. “GOP-Tied Groups Challenge Shift of Bloomberg Cash to Democrats.” Wall Street Journal. March 30, 2020. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.wsj.com/articles/gop-tied-groups-challenge-shift-of-bloomberg-cash-to-democrats-11585593458. ^
  13. “Top Contributors.” Open Secrets. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/parties/contrib.php?cmte=DNC&cycle=2020. ^
  14. Hamburger, Tom; Kane, Paul. “DNC rolls back Obama ban on contributions from federal lobbyists.” Washington Post. February 12, 2016. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/dnc-allowing-donations-from-federal-lobbyists-and-pacs/2016/02/12/22b1c38c-d196-11e5-88cd-753e80cd29ad_story.html. ^
  15. “Expenditures.” Open Secrets. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/parties/expend.php?cmte=DNC&cycle=2020. ^
  16. “Expenditures For and Against Candidates.” Open Secrets. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/parties/indexp.php?cycle=2020&cmte=DNC. ^
  17. “Expenditures.” Open Secrets. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/parties/expend.php?cmte=DNC&cycle=2020. ^
  18. “Expenditures.” Open Secrets. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/parties/expend.php?cmte=DNC&cycle=2020. ^
  19. “Contributions to Candidates.” Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/parties/recipients.php?cycle=2020&cmte=DNC. ^
  20.  “Watergate Scandal.” September 25, 2019. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.history.com/topics/1970s/watergate#section_2. ^
  21. Oppel Jr., Richard A. “Democrats Are Fined $243,000 for Fund-Raising Violations.” New York Times. September 21, 2002. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/21/us/democrats-are-fined-243000-for-fund-raising-violations.html. ^
  22. Oppel Jr., Richard A. “Democrats Are Fined $243,000 for Fund-Raising Violations.” New York Times. September 21, 2002. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/21/us/democrats-are-fined-243000-for-fund-raising-violations.html. ^
  23. Jackson, Brooks. “DNC fined for illegal 1996 fund raising.” CNN. September 23, 2002. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://web.archive.org/web/20080514033625/http://archives.cnn.com/2002/ALLPOLITICS/09/23/elec02.fec.dnc/. ^
  24. Glaser, April. “Here’s What We Know About Russia and the DNC Hack.” WIRED. July 27, 2016. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.wired.com/2016/07/heres-know-russia-dnc-hack/. ^
  25. Mueller III, Robert S. “Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election: Volume I of II.” U.S. Department of Justice. March 2019. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://cdn.cnn.com/cnn/2019/images/04/18/mueller-report-searchable.pdf  ^
  26. Stein, Jeff. “What 20,000 pages of hacked Wikileaks emails teach us about Hillary Clinton.” Vox. October 20, 2016. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/10/20/13308108/wikileaks-podesta-hillary-clinton ^
  27. [1] Stein, Jeff. “What 20,000 pages of hacked Wikileaks emails teach us about Hillary Clinton.” Vox. October 20, 2016. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/10/20/13308108/wikileaks-podesta-hillary-clinton. ^
  28. Schmidt, Michael S. “Trump Invited the Russians to Hack Clinton. Were They Listening?” New York Times. July 13, 2018. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/13/us/politics/trump-russia-clinton-emails.html. ^
  29. Mueller III, Robert S. “Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election: Volume I of II.” U.S. Department of Justice. March 2019. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://cdn.cnn.com/cnn/2019/images/04/18/mueller-report-searchable.pdf ^
  30. Shear, Michael D.; Rosenberg, Matthew. “Released Emails Suggest the D.N.C. Derided the Senate Campaign.” New York Times. July 22, 2016. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/23/us/politics/dnc-emails-sanders-clinton.html/. ^
  31. [1] Siddiqui, Sabrina; Gambino, Lauren; Roberts, Dan. “DNC apologizes to Bernie Sanders amid convention chaos in wake of email leak.” Guardian. July 25, 2016. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jul/25/debbie-wasserman-schultz-booed-dnc-fbi-email-hack. ^
  32. Lipton, Eric; Sanger, David E.; Shane, Scott. “The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S.” New York Times. December 13, 2016. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/13/us/politics/russia-hack-election-dnc.html. ^
  33. Klein, Ezra. “Was the Democratic primary rigged?” Vox. November 14, 2017. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/11/14/16640082/donna-brazile-warren-bernie-sanders-democratic-primary-rigged. ^
  34. Klein, Ezra. “Was the Democratic primary rigged?” Vox. November 14, 2017. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/11/14/16640082/donna-brazile-warren-bernie-sanders-democratic-primary-rigged ^
  35. Scott, Dylan; Nilsen, Ella. “Bernie Sanders vs. the superdelegates, explained.” Vox.org. March 4, 2020. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.vox.com/2020/3/4/21148906/bernie-sanders-2020-superdelegates-explained. ^
  36. Klein, Ezra. “Was the Democratic primary rigged?” Vox. November 14, 2017. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/11/14/16640082/donna-brazile-warren-bernie-sanders-democratic-primary-rigged. ^
  37. Weigel, David. “Florida judge dismisses fraud lawsuit against DNC.” Washington Post. August 25, 2017. Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/08/25/florida-judge-dismisses-fraud-lawsuit-against-dnc/. ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Bernard Coleman
    Officer/Board Member
  2. Sunita Leeds
    Executive Committee Member
  3. Tom Perez
    Chair (2016-2020)
  4. Seema Nanda
    Chief Executive Officer
  5. Andres W. Lopez
    Member (Puerto Rico)
  6. A’shanti Gholar
    Former National Deputy Director
  7. Jonathan Zucker
    Former National Director of Operations for Finance
  8. James Zogby
    Former Executive Committee, 2001-2017
  9. Jill Alper
    Former Political Director
  10. Stuart Appelbaum
    Executive Committee
  11. Henry R. Munoz III
    National Finance Chairman
  12. Howard Dean
    Former Chair, 2005-2009
  13. Terry McAuliffe
    Former Chair, 2001-2005
  14. Gail Stoltz
    Former Political Director
  15. Keith Ellison
    Deputy Chair
  16. Alexis Herman
    Former Co-Chair, Rules and Bylaws Committee
  17. Philip Murphy
    Former Finance Chair
  18. Brandon Davis
    Former Chief of Staff
  19. Robert Creamer
    Former Consultant
  20. Georgina Cannan
    Deputy Director and Counsel of Civic Engagement and Voter Protection
  21. Natalie Foster
    Former Digital Director
  22. Joe Sandler
    Former General Counsel
  23. Jess Morales-Rocketto
    Former Online Activist Manager
  24. Ben Wessel
    Former Redistricting Staffer
  25. Patrick Rodenbush
    Communications
  26. Causten Rodriguez-Wollerman
    Former Training Director for Obama for America
  27. Blaine Rummel
    Former Regional Press Secretary
  28. Marc Elias
    Consultant
  29. Hillary Clinton
    2016 Democratic Presidential Nominee
  30. Ian Simmons
    Supporter
  31. Brad Woodhouse
    Former Communications Director (2008-2013)
  32. Nancy R. Bagley
    Former Staffer
  33. Jennifer Palmieri
    Former National Press Secretary (2004)
  34. Sally Boynton-Brown
    Former Candidate, DNC Chairmanship Election (2017)
  35. Rebecca Parks
    Former Rapid Response Manager (2011-2013)
  36. Tony Carrk
    Former Director of Rapid Response Research (2011-2013)
  37. Shripal Shah
    Former Staffer
  38. Caroline Ciccone
    Former Communications Director
  39. Daniel P. Dozier
    Former Finance Director, Americans Abroad (2009)
  40. Marvin Randolph
    Former Staffer
  See an error? Let us know!