Even before the DNC Wikileaks scandal, we knew the NY Times was biased against Bernie Sanders. But in alarming email exchanges, the DNC claimed they were able to get NY Times reporter Nick Confessore to not report on the controversial Hillary Victory Fund, a joint effort of the DNC and the Hillary campaign.
The DNC prepared talking points, excuses and legal defenses to respond to claims that the HVF was bundling campaign donations to skirt legal limits (a "money laundering conduit" according to Politico). Walmart's Alice Walton and Hillary's other billionaire donors could now give 33 times the max donation, all in one convenient envelope.
As George Clooney noted, the donation amounts were "obscene", but they were routed through the HVF in order to flout laws prohibiting the wealthy from giving exorbitant amounts to a single candidate. The DNC did not want this to get out during the primaries.
CONTROLLING THE NARRATIVE: The DNC claims the fund is nothing new, and the Bernie campaign also was offered the chance to take advantage of a 33-state fund of his own, to make state-based donations more "fungible" with his national campaign's war chest.
DOWN TO THE WIRE: This rare look into the roles played in burying the Hillary Victory Fund story further confirms The Times helped Hillary during the 2016 primary. Because Bernie's platform was centered around campaign finance reform, he wanted the public to know how billionaires were bundling bucks for Hillary while he was walking the walk, refusing to play the shell game.
That April, the Sanders campaign had outraised Hillary for months with small donations. Sanders alerted the press on the eve of the NY primary that Hillary was exceeding legal limits and diverting donations intended for local races to cover her own campaign's expenses. The next day, NPR, Vice, The Atlantic and others reported Bernie's beef, but it was all too late.
According to Luis Miranda, a high ranking DNC official (who resigned this week), Confessore altered his NY Times story to downplay the "JVF" or joint victory fund. From the email:
"The Confessore story on Bernie's impact on the Party beyond his electoral prospects is out. Overall I think it's as good as we could hope for. We were able to keep him from including more on the JVF, it has a mention in there, but between us and a conversation he had with Marc Elias he finally backed off from focusing too much on that."
MONEY MAN REVEALED: Miranda said Marc Elias intervened to get the NY Times to "back off" reporting on details of the $90+ million Victory Fund on behalf of his client, Hillary Clinton.
Mr. Elias is the same election finance expert who wrote the legislation gutting America's campaign donation limits. He was dubbed "the man behind the political cash grab" by Politico, credited with single-handedly jacking up maximum contributions for the rich from $97,400 to $777,600 in a last-minute amendment inserted into the 2014 "Cromnibus" bill. This changed US elections by introducing new "allowable expenses" in the closing hours of a trillion dollar must-pass budget bill.
HYPOCRISY ALL AROUND: The gut-wrenching last minute deal was struck by John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid who claimed to oppose large campaign donations. Obama was urged by good government groups to veto the final version of the bill because of the new loopholes, but said he had no wiggle room because the Democrats were about lose control of the Senate.
INTIMIDATION TACTICS: Confessore himself had reported on Mr. Elias in 2014 and 2015, saying Elias sought to "exploit the loopholes and legal gray areas", giving the wealthy major advantages in elections. So how did the DNC get a corruption watchdog like Confessore to "back off" this time?
Aside from Elias, there was also an off-the-record meeting planned between Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Confessore, and his superior, NYT Senior Political Editor Carolyn Ross. But besides sticks, there were also carrots.
Confessore added a quote to his article from Mark Longabough, a Sanders-friendly strategist and DNC go-between who had genuinely good news for party unity. An email Luis Miranda wrote said:
"Longabaugh also strikes a somewhat conciliatory tone described here as saying : he believed the campaign would ultimately be well represented on all the committees as more members are named."
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