WikiLeaks, a hub for anonymous tips, released about 20,000 emails last Friday, including ones between Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schulz and other high-level Democratic National Committee (DNC) officials. The emails reflect an intra-committee plan to ensure Hillary Clinton’s nomination as the Democratic Candidate for the 2016 presidential election before any votes had been cast during the primary season. Such conduct seemingly runs afoul of Article 5, section 4 of the DNC’s Charter and Bylaws, which states in part:
“In the conduct and management of the affairs and procedures of the Democratic National Committee, particularly as they apply to the preparation and conduct of the Presidential nomination process, the Chairperson shall exercise impartiality and even-handedness as between the Presidential candidates and campaigns. The Chairperson shall be responsible for ensuring that the national officers and staff of the Democratic National Committee maintain impartiality and even-handedness during the Democratic Party Presidential nominating process.”
The leaked emails show a variety of types of damning conduct from within the DNC, including a plan for the media to highlight Sanders’s imaginary “atheism” as a means of dampening his support in the South, communication between DNC officials regarding the potential narratives that would be most damaging to Sanders’s campaign, and even a characterization of Sanders’s Indiana primary win by the DNC’s finance director as “obnoxious”. Such conduct puts to rest any notion that the DNC complied with its bylaws in remaining impartial.
A class action lawsuit has arisen against the DNC. The lawsuit contains claims for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duties, among others. Plaintiffs in the suit consist of Sanders supporters who donated to his campaign in reliance on the notion that the DNC would conduct an impartial primary process, and who would not have made such contributions if they had known the extent to which the DNC had pre-planned the outcome.
Legal Rights of Those Affected
The plaintiffs will succeed on at least some of the claims and recover at least their donations to the Sanders campaign if 1) the DNC made an important misstatement or omitted important information in communicating with the public, 2) the plaintiffs relied on such an important misstatement or omission, 3) the plaintiffs were harmed, and 4) the plaintiff’s reliance was a substantial factor in causing the harm.
If you or someone close to you has knowledge of an entity misleading the public and causing harm, financial or otherwise, don’t hesitate to contact our office.