In a bit of a reversal, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced Friday it had repealed a rule created in 2008 that bars it from accepting donations from lobbyists and political action committees (PACs). The change will almost certainly benefit Hillary Clinton at the expense of her rival Sen. Bernie Sanders.
The rule was created in 2008 at the behest of Barack Obama after he won the party’s nomination to be president. The decision was part of Obama’s pledge to “change how Washington works” by disempowering lobbyists.
But now, the DNC has decided that change wasn’t one it could believe in. For its part, the DNC pegs the change to the general election, rather than the primary between Clinton and Sanders.
“The DNC’s recent change in guidelines will ensure that we continue to have the resources and infrastructure in place to best support whoever emerges as our eventual nominee,” DNC spokesman Mark Paustenbach told The Washington Post, which first reported the development. “Electing a Democrat to the White House is vital to building on the progress we’ve made over the last seven years, which has resulted in a record 71 straight months of private-sector job growth and nearly 14 million new jobs.”
The DNC apparently reversed course quietly in the last few months and lobbyists knew about it. The Post confirmed the news Friday when reporters inquired with the DNC. The rule shift allows lobbyists and PAC’s to donate to the Hillary Victory Fund, a joint fundraising venture between her campaign and the DNC that raised more than $26 million in 2015.
The decision elicited a protest from the Sanders campaign, whose spokesman called it an “unfortunate step backwards” for the party.
The recent rule change is one of only several moves the DNC has made that appears to strongly favor Clinton over Sanders. The DNC has been responsible for setting the Democratic debate schedule, which has been criticized for having few debates and putting most of them on weekends when they’ll attract fewer viewers. More recently, the DNC lent its headquarters to the Congressional Black Caucus when it announced its endorsement of Clinton.
DNC maneuvering isn’t the only sign that the Democratic establishment is at wit’s end with Sanders following his blowout win in New Hampshire. Priorities USA, a pro-Clinton Super PAC, announced Friday that it would be spending about $5 million to bolster Clinton in primary states. Previously, it had planned to save its resources for the general election.
The Sanders campaign criticized the move, saying Clinton was being bailed out by Wall Street allies.
“It is truly unfortunate that the largest pro-Clinton super PAC has decided to infect the democratic primary process with its haul of Wall Street cash,” said campaign manager Jeff Weaver. “Doesn’t the Clinton campaign have the funds to run its own ads without resorting to its super PAC, which is funded by the very people Secretary Clinton has promised to take on?”
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