FACT CHECK: Did The Clinton-DNC Agreement Only Apply To The General Election?

David Sivak | Fact Check Editor

Political commentators have claimed in recent days that an agreement giving the Clinton campaign partial control over the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in exchange for financial support only applied during the general election.

Verdict: False

The memo gave the Clinton campaign say over aspects of strategy, staffing, communications and budgetary decision-making well before the general election season started, and explicitly gave the Clinton camp influence over primary activities.

Fact Check:

A new book by former DNC Chair Donna Brazile has renewed allegations that the DNC “rigged” the Democratic presidential primary in favor of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The book reveals a 2015 agreement between the Clinton campaign and the DNC that gave Clinton substantial input over strategy, communications and staffing decisions made by the DNC months before the presidential primaries began.

After NBC News obtained a copy of the memo Friday, it reported that the document limited this influence to the general election. “The memo also made clear that the arrangement pertained to only the general election, not the primary season,” wrote NBC.

Political commentators seized on this reporting to downplay the accusations of corruption being leveled against the DNC.

“Turns out the memo Donna spoke about applied only to the general election. If so then this memo is standard operating procedure for 15 years,” tweeted former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.

“1. THREAD: JUST WOW. Look at the memo below. The entire Hillary “rigged” narrative blew up today. So will anyone face consequences?” tweeted former political consultant Peter Daou.

“So the agreement between HFA and DNC = the general election and not the primaries. It also stipulated impartiality,” tweeted political writer Bob Cesca.

The memo does contain a clause narrowing the focus of the agreement to the general election. “All activities performed under this agreement will be focused exclusively on preparations for the General Election and not the Democratic Primary,” reads the document.

But, in an apparent contradiction, other clauses of the memo explicitly granted Clinton influence over aspects of the DNC during the primaries.

For example, the DNC agreed to send the Clinton campaign (known formally as Hillary For America) advance copies of certain primary-related communications. “The DNC will provide HFA advance opportunity to review on-line or mass email, communications that features a particular Democratic primary candidate,” reads the memo.

Brazile writes in her book that these sorts of clauses essentially shifted the DNC’s command center to Clinton’s campaign headquarters in Brooklyn. “I had been wondering why it was that I couldn’t write a press release without passing it by Brooklyn,” Brazile wrote about the memo. “Well, here was the answer.”

The memo also required the DNC to seek approval from the Clinton campaign when hiring certain senior campaign staff. “With respect to the hiring of future DNC senior staff in the communications, technology, and research departments, in the case of vacancy, the DNC will maintain the authority to make the final decision as between candidates acceptable to HFA,” the memo reads.

The job descriptions for senior-level positions often extended well beyond the general election season. Most notably, the memo stipulated that the DNC hire an HFA-approved communications director. Within weeks of the agreement being signed, the DNC named Democratic strategist Luis Miranda to the role.

According to emails published by Wikileaks, Miranda not only dealt extensively with messaging during the primary campaign, but he also actively defended the DNC against allegations that the primary had been rigged against presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

“There’s just no evidence that the process has been rigged,” he wrote in one statement to media outlets.

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David Sivak

Fact Check Editor

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