The latest leak of documents from the Democratic National Convention (DNC) by notorious hacker Guccifer 2.0 not only suggests the DNC engaged in pay-for-play corruption with donors, but revealed an email where a legal associate used exactly that term with DNC staff. The leak dropped on Tuesday.
“Can we set up a time for a very brief call to go over our process for handling donations from donors who have given us pay to play letters?” asked Jacquelyn K. Lopez, an associate at Perkins Coie LLP, a legal firm servicing the United States and Asia (emphasis added). “Want to make sure we have a robust process in place to make sure that donations that come in from these donors, in any form, get put into the operating account.”
The email, dated May 18, 2016, was sent to three DNC staffers: Director of Compliance Preston (Alan) Reed, Finance Chief of Staff Scott Comer, and CFO Brad Marshall. Marshall also got in trouble in July during the first DNC leak for encouraging DNC communications staff to plant questions about Bernie Sanders’ faith.
Some Twitter users have contrasted this email with Hillary Clinton’s brief explanation of pay-to-play, referencing Donald Trump.
Next Page: But there’s a lot more “pay to play” in the DNC leak than just this email.
The mention of “pay to play” is extremely fitting in the context of Tuesday’s leak, which also featured a ledger listing top DNC fundraisers as of November 2008 and the positions of national public trust given them during Obama’s administration.
— Shirtless Pundit 🇺🇸 (@zachhaller) September 14, 2016
The top name, Matthew Barzun, raised $3.5 million, and became ambassador to the UK and Sweden since August 2009. Other notable positions include chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, assistant secretary of State, CFO of California, and deputy attorney general.
Jordan Chariton, a reporter for The Young Turks, attacked Democratic leaders who argued that this is how the “game is played,” calling them “part of the problem.”
Incredible establishment Dems spinning over #DNCleak: "Big deal, making top ambassadors is how game is played"–you're part of the problem!
— Jordan (@JordanChariton) September 14, 2016
This ledger has gotten a great deal of attention on Twitter, and some have compared this blatant cronyism to the notorious case of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. He was impeached and removed from office for corruption, specifically after soliciting bribes for political appointments, including Barack Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat after his election as president in 2008. He was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in federal prison.
I'm pretty sure Blagojevich is pretty pissed that he didn't get away with selling appointments like Obama and Hillary do. #dncleak
— Wartime Catlady (@mariangelavitti) September 14, 2016
These comparisons may well be overblown, but the optics do not look good for the DNC.
Similarly, the “pay to play” language in the email could also be explained in an innocuous way. It’s possible “pay to play” referred to a specific fundraising drive, offering donors a chance to play golf with President Obama, for instance. Nevertheless, the email is suspect, and the DNC has some explaining to do.