Who Do You Want To Own Your Candidate?

The big money people behind Hillary Clinton are apparently not very thrilled with Speaker Pelosi.  Pelosi, who recently said that Super Delegates should not overturn the pledged delegate leader for the nomination, received a letter from top Clinton donors admonishing the Speaker and asking her to “clarify” her statement, and stay out of the fight.

While the letter itself is pretty tame, it’s difficult not to interpret the underlying subtext to read, “We paid for this party, do our will.”

Greg Sargent has the full letter.

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi

Speaker of the US House of Representatives

Office of the Speaker

H-232, US Capitol

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Madame Speaker,

As Democrats, we have been heartened by the overwhelming response that our fellow Democrats have shown for our party’s candidates during this primary season. Each caucus and each primary has seen a record turnout of voters. But this dynamic primary season is not at an end. Several states and millions of Democratic voters have not yet had a chance to cast their votes.

We respect those voters and believe that they, like the voters in the states that have already participated, have a right to be heard. None of us should make declarative statements that diminish the importance of their voices and their votes. We are writing to say we believe your remarks on ABC News This Week on March 16th did just that.

During your appearance, you suggested super-delegates have an obligation to support the candidate who leads in the pledged delegate count as of June 3rd , whether that lead be by 500 delegates or 2. This is an untenable position that runs counter to the party’s intent in establishing super-delegates in 1984 as well as your own comments recorded in The Hill ten days earlier:

“I believe super-delegates have to use their own judgment and there will be many equities that they have to weigh when they make the decision. Their own belief and who they think will be the best president, who they think can win, how their own region voted, and their own responsibility.’”

Super-delegates, like all delegates, have an obligation to make an informed, individual decision about whom to support and who would be the party’s strongest nominee. Both campaigns agree that at the end of the primary contests neither will have enough pledged delegates to secure the nomination. In that situation, super-delegates must look to not one criterion but to the full panoply of factors that will help them assess who will be the party’s strongest nominee in the general election.

We have been strong supporters of the DCCC. We therefore urge you to clarify your position on super-delegates and reflect in your comments a more open view to the optional independent actions of each of the delegates at the National Convention in August. We appreciate your activities in support of the Democratic Party and your leadership role in the Party and hope you will be responsive to some of your major enthusiastic supporters.


Marc Aronchick

Clarence Avant

Susie Tompkins Buell

Sim Farar

Robert L. Johnson

Chris Korge

Marc and Cathy Lasry

Hassan Nemazee

Alan and Susan Patricof

JB Pritzker

Amy Rao

Lynn de Rothschild

Haim Saban

Bernard Schwartz

Stanley S. Shuman

Jay Snyder

Maureen White and Steven Rattner

What seems particularly disturbing to me, though, is not merely the attempt to extort Super Delegate support with Democrat cash cow money, but the attempt to strong arm over pledged delegates.  Remember, pledged delegates, by Democratic party rules, can change their vote as well, no one is denying this.  But to even come close to actually doing such a thing outside an honest to goodness brokered convention is destructive and suicidal.  If we’re talking about the potential for Super Delegates to break the party by overturning the pledged delegate leader, imagine the pandemonium that stealing pledged delegates would cause.

What makes this different, though, from the rest of the Clinton campaign’s pleas to try and make the delegate hunt an anything goes game is that this is not coming from her campaign directly, but instead as a near extortion threat from her most high powered donors.  And just who are these people?

As Jon Aravosis points out, about a third of them were overnighters at the Lincoln bedroom during the Clinton Administration, and Matt Stoller points out that seven were heavy donors for Joe Lieberman during his 2006 run as an independent.  We also learn that Chris Korge is a Miami based lobbyist to the aviation industry, while Matthew Yglesias reported last year that media mogul and major telecom player, Haim Saban, is a neoconservative leading donor who was particularly generous to Democrats back in 2001 and 2002 when many supported going to war with Iraq.

Sim Farar, Hassan Nemazee, also were given plum appointments by the Clinton administrations (or were at least nominated) while Robert Johnson, as I’m sure you all remember, was the high level Clinton surrogate who attacked Obama over drug use and implied that he might have been a drug dealer.

Kos diarist, Slinkerwink, did the quick math and discovered that these people have given almost $26 million to the DCCC.

What I find particularly interesting, though, is a contrast between these high powered donors, and the well over a million small sum donors that Obama brings to the table, and the fact that they have allowed Obama to outstrip Hillary in fundraising the whole time through.

It kind of makes you want to ask the question, who do you want funding your candidate?  The few powerful people who are using extortion to get their way, or us?

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