Mon, Jul 25, 2016 - Page 5 News List

E-mail leak threatens Democrats’ unity

WIKILEAKS:One missive purportedly from a DNC official in May appears to try to discredit US Senator Bernie Sanders by raising a questions about his religious beliefs

AFP, WASHINGTON

A cache of leaked e-mails from Democratic party leaders’ accounts includes at least two messages suggesting an insider effort to hobble US Senator Bernie Sanders’ upstart campaign, a revelation that threatens an uneasy truce within the party.

The release on Friday of more than 19,000 e-mails sent and received by seven top Democratic National Committee (DNC) officials, by anti-secrecy Web site WikiLeaks, comes at a time when the party is anxious to project an image of unity.

In a May 5 exchange, DNC chief financial officer Brad Marshall asked if someone could ask a person he did not name, presumably Sanders, about his religious belief in the conservative states of Kentucky and West Virginia.

“Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage,” the message said. “I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.”

Amy Dacey, the committee’s chief executive officer, responded in all caps: “AMEN.”

The Intercept news Web site quoted Marshall as saying, “I do not recall this. I can say it would not have been Sanders. It would probably be about a surrogate.”

A May 21 e-mail chain discussed Sanders’ assertion in an interview that he would oust the party chair, US Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, once he is elected to the White House.

Writing from a Gmail account that media reports said belonged to Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman said: “This is a silly story. He isn’t going to be president.”

Sanders waged a feisty year-long battle against former US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primaries. She clinched enough delegates to secure the nomination early last month, but Sanders did not concede defeat and endorse her until July 12.

Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver, in an interview with ABC News, demanded answers on Saturday about the growing controversy.

“Someone does have to be held accountable,” Weaver said, adding that the e-mails seemed to show misconduct at a very senior level of the DNC.

The Democratic Party, Weaver said, seemed to have “its fingers on the scale” for Clinton, he added during the interview, which was posted on the television network’s Web site.

“We have an electoral process. The DNC, by its charter, is required to be neutral among the candidates. Clearly it was not,” he said.

In related news, the role of superdelegates could be significantly reduced in future Democratic presidential primaries under a compromise deal struck at the Democratic National Convention rules committee on Saturday.

Efforts by Sanders supporters to pass amendments eliminating or limiting the power of superdelegates failed to win approval at the committee meeting in Philadelphia, but campaigns for Sanders and Clinton worked out an agreement to create a “unity commission” to revise the nominating process, including changing superdelegate rules, which won near-unanimous support. The 21-member commission will study a number of issues, including how to improve access to caucuses and how to broaden the party’s appeal.

For superdelegates, the commission’s recommendation is that Congress members, governors and other elected officials should remain as unpledged delegates, but that other delegates would be bound proportionally to the primary results of their state.

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