Bernie Sanders’ Campaign Penalized by DNC for Accessing Hillary Clinton Voter Data

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democratic party officials claim that Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign has improperly accessed confidential voter information from Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

In response, the Democratic National Committee immediately suspended the Sanders campaign’s access to its list of potential Democrat voters, crippling its ability to work with a key strategic element. The master list is maintained by the DNC itself and rented to various campaigns. Firewalls and other security measures maintain boundaries between the information added to that list by individual candidates.

Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver blames NGP VAN — the software vendor in charge of the master file — for the incident, citing a glitch that allowed access to Clinton’s data. He called the vendor “incompetent,” and said that they have dropped the firewall between candidate information on more than one occasion in the past. He’s also pointing a finger at the DNC for hiring NGP VAN in the first place, even though the Bernie Sanders campaign seems to have been the only one to have accessed another candidate’s proprietary data.

Despite that, Weaver has admitted that the information was wrongfully viewed by one of their staff and that an individual has been fired because of it. He also claims that none of the data was ever downloaded, let alone printed, so they are no longer in possession of anything outside of their rightfully acquired information.

Sanders campaign spokesman Michael Briggs, however, claims that four people viewed the information, three at the direction of supervisor Josh Uretsky. Uretsky himself says that when they discovered the security breach during a patch to the system on Wednesday, he was merely trying to probe in order to ascertain risks to their own data. Meanwhile, Stu Trevelyan of NGP VAN will be conducting a full audit based on the security breach. He says that the situation was an “isolated incident” and that “by lunchtime, it was resolved.”

DNC spokesman Luis Miranda and the DNC are “working with our campaigns and the vendor to have full clarity on the extent of the breach, ensure that this isolated incident does not happen again,” according to a released statement.

Bernie Sanders’ staff won’t be allowed access to the voter data until it can provide a concrete explanation of what happened and assure that any copies of Clinton’s data has been completely eliminated. Amidst the controversy, Sanders and Clinton prepare to face off on Saturday night’s debate.

While this could turn into a point of friction between candidates, the responsibility truly lies with the DNC itself. One of their foremost responsibilities is the security and maintenance of the voting data in question, and this is a very high profile failure to do just that.

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