Why the Bernie Sanders campaign probably has a solid case against the DNC

Although I am not an attorney, having read the lawsuit filed by the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign against the Democratic National Committee (DNC) over the ongoing voter list controversy, it’s pretty clear to me that the DNC and their voter list vendor did not follow proper procedure for dealing with the breach of the DNC master voter list.

Paragraph 13 of the lawsuit (pages 3-4) quotes part of the agreement that the Bernie campaign signed with the voter list vendor:

In view of the national political importance of the Campaign — and by extension, the importance of the Voter Data and the Agreement — the Agreement substantially restricts both Parties’ rights of termination to cases of prolonged and voluntary breach. The Agreement states, in relevant part:

Either party may terminate this Agreement in the event that the other party breaches this Agreement; the non-breaching party sends written notice to the breaching party describing the breach, and the breaching party does not cure the breach to the satisfaction of the non-breaching party within ten (10) calendar days following its receipt of such notice.

That is a very important part of the Bernie campaign’s argument, since this is clearly a contract law case.

Paragraph 14 (page 4) describes how what was outlined in Paragraph 13 is the only legal method of stripping the Bernie campaign of access to the voter list:

The Agreement does not permit either Party to suspend its performance of the Agreement prior to terminating the Agreement in accordance with the provision above.

In other words, the only way that the DNC and their vendor can legally deny Bernie access to the voter files is through the ten-day process described in Paragraph 13.

Paragraphs 20-22 (page 5) describes the glitch in the voter list database that allowed the breach to take place:

On the morning of December 16, 2015, NGP VAN released a modification (the “Release”) to the software that the Campaign and other candidates use to access Voter Data.

This Release contained a critical security flaw (the “Bug”) that allowed the Campaign and other presidential candidates to view Confidential Information disclosed by competing campaigns.

The Bug was resolved within approximately four hours, by the afternoon of December 16, 2015.

Paragraph 24 (page 6) outlines the Bernie campaign’s role as the breaching party:

Before the Bug could be resolved, several staff members of the Campaign accessed and viewed Confidential Information (the “Disclosed Information”) disclosed to the DNC by the 2016 campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (the “Competing Campaign”).

Paragraph 27 (page 6) describes the DNC’s violation of the contract between the vendor and the Bernie campaign:

On December 17, 2015, at approximately 2:47 p.m., the DNC suspended or terminated the Campaign’s Voter Data access. The suspension or termination of the Campaign’s access was undertaken without contractual cause, and in contravention of the Agreement’s termination protocols.

To put that another way, the DNC suspended the Bernie campaign’s access to the master voter list only one day after the breach occurred, and without following the ten-day process for terminating the contract outlined in the contract between the Bernie campaign and the voter list vendor. I’m not an attorney, but this looks like a solid case for the Bernie campaign.

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