Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersMaher, Silverman: Gary Johnson is no Bernie What will be October’s surprise? Poll: Half of Trump supporters don't trust integrity of election MORE’ (I-Vt.) campaign sued the Democratic National Committee in federal court Friday evening following the suspension of his campaign from the DNC’s voter database after a security breach.
The suit claims that the campaign is losing $600,000 in donations each day that it does not have access to the data, and adds that the “damage to the campaign’s political viability as a result of being unable to communicate with constituents and voters, is far more severe, and incapable of measurement.”
The Sanders campaign fired a supervisory staffer involved in the incident and has gone on the warpath Friday claiming that the DNC overreacted and is trying to aid Clinton’s campaign.
The suit claims that the loss of the voter file could “significantly disadvantage, if not cripple, a Democratic candidate’s campaign for public office.” It also argues that the agreement between the candidate and the DNC mandates that a candidate get 10 days written notice to fix any issue before the party can restrict access.
“The DNC’s unwarranted, unilateral suspension of the Campaign’s Voter Data access directly impacts one of the nation’s most important electoral races, and carries political implications on a national scale,” the suit says.
“The DNC should not be permitted to tip the scales of the Democratic presidential primary without clear justification and contractual cause. The fairness of this pivotal national election should not be compromised because of security flaws introduced by the DNC and its vendor.”
The suit asks for "immediate restoration" of the campaign's access to the voter data system, damages "presently known to exceed $75,000.00" and whatever else "the Court deems just and proper."
Sanders’s campaign manager Jeff Weaver threatened earlier Friday that the campaign would take the DNC to federal court if the national party committee didn’t lift the suspension. But the DNC did not budge, arguing that it needed to restrict access in order to conduct a full investigation.
Sanders’ team only had hours to prepare the lawsuit, shown in some typographical errors present in the court filing.
One senior Democrat told The Hill that while it’s clear the Sanders campaign committed a violation, the DNC has to be wary of not feeding into the narrative that it is aiding Clinton.
“The DNC is very susceptible and has taken a lot of incoming attacks for being in the tank for Hillary and its response has to be proportional,” he said.
“Not saying this isn’t proportional, but you have to be very careful.”
He also noted that both sides are looking to take control of the message amid the controversy.
The Sanders camp is recasting the story away from one about a Sanders staffer stealing data and emphasizing the alleged overreaction as proof that the DNC is in the tank with Clinton.
The Clinton camp had remained quiet for the majority of the day, refusing comment outside of a brief and benign statement that summarized the situation. But that changed by the later afternoon, when spokesman Brian Fallon began to take a more aggressive tack on Twitter and the campaign hosted a press call with reporters early Friday evening.
Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook called the data breach “egregious” on the press call and noted that the campaign’s voter file and information are “fundamental keys of our campaign.”
“This was not an inadvertent glimpse into our data, not a mistake,” Mook said. “They made 25 intentional and targeted searches of our data.”
He also called on the Sanders campaign to stop "politicizing" and fundraising off of the DNC breach. The Vermont senator's campaign sent out a fundraising email Friday afternoon that called on supporters to sign a petition calling on the DNC to return the data back to Sanders.
— Lisa Hagen contributed