Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign filed a federal lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee late Friday, escalating an apparent war that’s breaking out inside the party. The Sanders campaign is seeking reinstatement of its access to important voter information that the committee had blocked it from after an a data breach in which the DNC said the Sanders campaign improperly access Hillary Clinton’s campaign data.
Sanders’ campaign manager lashed out at the Democratic National Committee earlier on Friday after the committee punished the campaign over a data breach by suspending its access to key voter information. “By their action, the leadership of the Democratic National Committee is now actively attempting to undermine our campaign,” said Jeff Weaver, the senator’s campaign manager. “This is taking our campaign hostage,” Weaver declared, adding accusations that the DNC has “stolen” the campaign’s information. He also leveled accusations that the committee is actively helping the Clinton campaign, and said Sanders’ campaign would sue the DNC if access to the database wasn’t reinstated. The accusations were almost immediately shot down by DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who said in a statement that the Sanders campaign had been in violation of an agreement signed by all of the campaigns.
Earlier in the day, reports emerged that Bernie Sanders fired his national data director, Josh Uretsky, after the DNC said he inappropriately accessed Hillary Clinton campaign’s confidential data. The breach was allowed to happen when the software company that manages each of the campaign’s voter data temporarily dropped the firewall that separates them on Wednesday. At that point, the DNC says, Uretsky accessed voter data collected by the Clinton campaign. On Friday morning, Uretsky told CNN he didn’t look at the Clinton campaign data, but, rather, noticed the firewall was down and was trying to assess how badly the Sanders campaign data was exposed. Nevertheless, the DNC punished the Sanders campaign by suspending its access to the database, a trove of information that is seen as invaluable by presidential campaigns, which use it to plot out ground strategy. The setback comes as a new ABC News/Washington Post poll of national voters shows Clinton has a commanding 2 to 1 lead over the U.S. senator from Vermont. The poll also showed those surveyed believe Clinton is better suited than Sanders to handle terrorism, and issue has become a leading topic since the Dec. 2 terror attack that left 14 dead and 22 injured in San Bernardino, Calif. The two will square off, along with Martin O’Malley, Saturday night in the third Democratic primary debate. Sanders and O’Malley have complained about the timing of the event — the second consecutive Democratic debate to take place on a Saturday night, a time when they say no one will really watching because it’s “shopping season” and debate will be competing against a telecast of the New York Jets-Dallas Cowboys NFL game.