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Official Who Developed Superdelegate System Offered Clinton Campaign Plan To Dupe Sanders Supporters

Mark Siegel, a former Democratic Party official, played a key role in drafting the superdelegate provisions, which the party adopted in response to what happened with George McGovern at the 1972 convention. In a Clinton campaign email released by WikiLeaks, he offers the campaign a plan to dupe Bernie Sanders supporters into feeling like they “won” a major superdelegate “reform” at the Democratic National Convention.

As Siegel highlights, the Democratic Party establishment went against the liberal wing of the party and added party officials. The Democratic National Committee voted on delegate selection rules and made themselves “automatic delegates.”

“Bernie and his people have been bitching about super delegates and the huge percentage that have come out for Hillary,” Siegel writes. “Since the original idea was to bring our elected officials to the convention ex-officio, because of the offices and the constituencies they represent, why not throw Bernie a bone and reduce the super delegates in the future to the original draft of members of the House and Senate, governors and big city mayors, eliminating the DNC members who are not state chairs or vice-chairs?”

Siegel adds, “Frankly, DNC members don’t really represent constituencies anyway. I should know. I served on the DNC first as executive director and then as an elected member for 10 years.”

“So if we ‘give’ Bernie this in the convention’s rules committee, his people will think they’ve ‘won’ something from the party establishment. And it functionally doesn’t make any difference anyway. They win. We don’t lose. Everyone is happy.”

The plan stemmed from Siegel’s belief that having their issues or agenda represented in the Democratic Party platform would not be a “sufficiently tangible prize for the Bernie wing of the convention.”

Also, he maintained it was critical for “all delegates, especially those representing losing candidates, [to] emerge from the convention feeling that they have won something, achieved something tangible.”

“I think this is terribly important especially with people like Bernie’s sometimes self-righteous ideologues. We want them to go home happy and enthusiastic in working their asses off for Hillary.”

The proposed plan was passed on to the campaign by Tamera Luzzatto, who was Clinton’s chief of staff when she was a United States senator. She said she shared it as a favor and because of Siegel’s role in the Democrats’ delegate system.

If there was a response to Siegel, it did not happen via email, but the Clinton campaign and other Democratic Party officials made a meager attempt to satisfy the frustration of Sanders supporters with a “reform” of the superdelegate system.

Wellington Webb, the former mayor of Denver, told the Washington Post that this would help make sure “nobody does anything when Bernie speaks” and “nobody does anything when Hillary speaks.”

The “reform” agreed upon involved binding roughly two-thirds of superdelegates to state primaries and caucuses. A “unity commission” was created to further develop these rules after the general election.

None of the Democratic National Committee members lost any of their clout.

Because the Democrats and Clinton campaign rejected the full abolition of superdelegates, the “reform” did not do much to calm the anger of Sanders supporters. Democrats forced conformity and manufactured consent during the convention to give the public the appearance that Sanders supporters were not protesting.

In fact, as Rania Khalek reported for Shadowproof, officials confiscated signs, drowned out protest chants with counter-chants, locked down the arena during certain speeches to deter walkouts, and stationed party-appointed whips in the aisles to monitor rowdy Sanders delegates and signal to Clinton supporters when to chant and hold up pro-Clinton signs.

Photo by coppet marcel on Flickr.
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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."