Remember, there’s no I in team … but there is an m and an e. After the 2016 debacle, Hillary Clinton pledged to do everything in her power to lift Democrats back into power. According to The Interecept, working from FEC records and sources within Democratic organizations, she’s been more focused on cashing out than on digging in.
Finally, we may have a Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal about which Democrats actually care:
HEADING INTO THE 2018 midterms, with Democrats hoping to take back the House of Representatives and even make a run at the Senate, the party has spent more than $2 million worth of campaign resources on payments to Hillary Clinton’s new group, Onward Together, according to Federal Election Commission filings and interviews with people familiar with the payments.
The Democratic National Committee is paying $1.65 million for access to the email list, voter data, and software produced by Hillary for America during the 2016 presidential campaign, Xochitl Hinojosa, a spokesperson for the DNC, told The Intercept. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has paid more than $700,000 to rent the same email list.
As scandals go, this one’s distinctly low wattage, even if all of the reporting here is accurate. There’s nothing illegal about selling e-mail lists, as anyone who’s ever received spam has learned the hard way. It’s not even necessarily unethical, at least not on its own. Former DNC chair Donna Brazile confirms the arrangement with The Intercept and suggests that it’s just business as normal — and a win for the DNC and for her personally. Brazile chalks it up as the result of her own “tough negotiations” with Team Hillary to get something of value out of their now-infamous joint agreement.
However, that wasn’t how it was described a year ago, when the DNC first announced that Hillary’s list would get shared with them. Clinton’s longtime spokesman made the decision sound almost altruistic, as The Intercept reminds its readers:
The DNC announced in April 2017 that Clinton had turned over her email list and related data and tools as an in-kind contribution to the party, with no suggestion that payments would later be made for it.
“[P]utting the DNC on a strong footing is something that she’s been very focused on since the campaign, when she set out to leave the DNC in the black and did so,” said Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill at the time. “But in addition to a strong financial footing, sharing campaign data and resources is something she views as critical to electing Democrats in 2017, 2018 and beyond. It is an important and unprecedented step toward a strong, unified Democratic Party going forward.”
The DNC certainly has an odd habit of keeping its deals with the Clintons secret, doesn’t it? And let’s not forget that Brazile herself isn’t exactly a reliable narrator for this period in history. Brazile has tried mightily to distance herself from that joint agreement, even employing prose worthy of an Edward Bulwer-Lytton award, so the only real value of her sourcing is to corroborate that the Clintons are still holding the strings that make the DNC and other Democratic orgs dance.
It’s not illegal or terribly unusual, but it’s still … tawdry. The Clintons have cashed out their political careers into a net worth stretching into nine figures, and built a foundation or two along the way to amplify and extend their political clout. They’ve done very well for themselves, and can hardly be said to need the cash. The revenue from these lists amount to twelve or fewer speaking engagements for either one of them. Why not fund “Onward Together” out of their own pockets, or better yet, simply give the resources back to the political party they rented for the last three-plus years?