Sanders officially files lawsuit against DNC for freezing campaign’s access to voter files

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders © Nancy Wiechec
Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has officially served the Democratic National Committee (DNC) with a lawsuit for blocking access to shared party voter files in the wake of Clinton accusations over improper access.

The controversial case has been going on since December.

The Sanders campaign was acting on a Thursday deadline for officially filing the lawsuit, which it first filed following complaints by the Hillary Clinton campaign that a Sanders aide had improperly been accessing Clinton’s own voter data. This was after a firewall was suddenly disabled by an accidental glitch allowing the aide access – something he denied was related to any attempts to undermine the Clinton campaign.

The DNC temporarily froze Sanders’ access to the data, effectively blocking his campaign’s access to vital information.

The access has long been restored, but the damage was done, Sanders believes. The campaign is seeking $75,000 in compensation for damages caused by the freeze, arguing that the DNC unfairly punished him, and that it blatantly favors Hillary Clinton. The charges filed are for negligence and breach of contract.

However, according to Politico, there is a chance of reaching a deal without going to trial. According to the latest wording of the suit, the Sanders campaign and the DNC “continue to engage in cooperative discussions in their efforts to resolve the pending litigation.”

Both sides confirmed this through official statements and expressed a hope that the matter could be resolved “amicably” – a word also used by a source in the Sanders campaign speaking to the Hill.

"We’re dealing with the DNC on an issue where we felt that they did not deal straight with us from the beginning, so the reason to keep this in place was to make sure Senator Sanders is treated fairly in this process," the source said on condition of anonymity.

"This filing is very procedural. We went through with it because the report is not yet complete."

Back in December when the controversy arose, the Sanders aide in question, Josh Uretsky – who has since been let go – claimed that he had only entered the restricted Clinton area in an attempt to fix the software glitch that resulted in the firewall being dropped. He had said he looked at some of the Clinton data while trying to figure out the extent of the breach, which was not the first in the database’s history.

“In retrospect, I got a little panicky because our data was totally exposed too,” Uretsky told CNN in a phone interview. “We had to have an assessment and understanding of how broad the exposure was, and I had to document it so that I could try to calm down and think about what actually happened so that I could figure out how to protect our stuff.”

To his knowledge, nobody took anything that would have given the Sanders campaign any benefit, Uretsky added.

The DNC is overtly supporting Clinton by denying the Sanders campaign access to its own data, campaign manager Jeff Weaver told reporters in December.  

“This is unacceptable,” said Weaver. “If DNC continues to hold our data hostage… we’ll be in Federal Court this afternoon, seeking immediate relief.

“We are running a clean campaign. We don't need dirty tricks.”

Clinton’s own team believes different, alleging 25 visits to the restricted area by the Sanders aide.

“This was not an inadvertent glimpse into our data, not a mistake,” Clinton Campaign Manager Robby Mook was cited as saying by the Hill.