UPDATE 12/19/2015: The DNC has officially restored Bernie Sanders’ access to voter files.
The Democratic National Committee has suspended the Bernie Sanders’ campaign from accessing the master list of likely Democratic voters. This is a huge setback for Sanders, and could potentially be devastating to his campaign if the DNC doesn’t reverse their decision.
The master list is compiled and maintained by the DNC, who rents it out to campaigns. Candidates can then add their own voter information gathered by their campaign workers. The master list is available to be viewed by anyone that rents it, but the proprietary information gathered by specific campaigns is protected from rival campaigns by a firewall.
The DNC is accusing the campaign of accessing Hillary Clinton’s confidential voting information gathered by her campaign. According to Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, viewing the information was the fault of the software – not the staffers.
Although firewalls are in place to prevent candidate’s campaigns from viewing rival information, a patch was being applied for the software on Wednesday that briefly “opened a window into proprietary information from other campaigns.” The vendor, NGP VAN, confirmed this and its chief, Stu Trevelyan, said a full audit is in order.
Michael Briggs, Sanders campaign spokesman stated:
“Sadly, the vendor who runs the DNC’s voter file program continues to make serious errors. On more than one occasion, the vendor has dropped the firewall between the data of different Democratic campaigns. Our campaign months ago alerted the DNC to the fact that campaign data was being made available to other campaigns. At that time our campaign did not run to the media, relying instead on assurances from the vendor.”
“Unfortunately, yesterday, the vendor once again dropped the firewall between the campaigns for some data. After discussion with the DNC it became clear that one of our staffers accessed some modeling data from another campaign. That behavior is unacceptable and that staffer was immediately fired. We are as interested as anyone in making sure that the software flaws are corrected since mistakes by the DNC’s vendor also have made our records vulnerable. We are working with the DNC and the vendor and hope that this kind of lapse will not occur again.”
The staffer mentioned was Josh Uretsky. Uretzsky told CNN:
“We investigated it for a short period of time to see the scope of the Sanders campaign’s exposure and then the breach was shut down presumably by the vendor.”
“We did not gain any material benefit.”
Uretsky took full responsibility for the situation.
The DNC will not allow the Sanders’ campaign access to the list until they can show that they have destroyed any data acquired from the breach. But according to Jeff Weaver, the campaign never downloaded or printed the data. They are not in any possession of the information they were accused of having, so how can they prove anything in order to gain their access back?
The DNC claims they will be investigating the situation, but as of now it is unclear when, or even if, they will grant Sanders’ campaign access again. This could be devastating for the campaign, as this voting information could make or break Sanders’ success at the Iowa caucus in February and the New Hampshire primary shortly after.