Leaked DNC Documents Show Plans To Reward Big Donors With Federal Appointments
Democratic National Committee documents recently released by WikiLeaks include spreadsheets and emails that appear to show party officials planning which donors and prominent fundraisers to provide with appointments to federal boards and commissions.
The documents, which were circulated among top DNC officials in April, could raise legal questions for the party, says Ken Boehm, the chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group.
“The disclosed DNC emails sure look like the potential Clinton Administration has intertwined the appointments to federal government boards and commissions with the political and fund raising operations of the Democratic Party,” Boehm told The Daily Caller.
“That is unethical, if not illegal.”
The records, which WikiLeaks released along with nearly 20,000 hacked DNC emails and other documents on Friday, also expose one of the Beltway’s worst kept secrets: that wealthy politicos can often buy their way to presidential appointments.
President Obama has been criticized for appointing dozens of top fundraisers — called “bundlers” in the political fundraising realm — to ambassadorships and other cushy federal positions.
The spreadsheet — which was accompanied by emails sent between officials with the DNC’s finance team — contains 23 names of little-known corporate executives and professional fundraisers who have donated to the committee and various Democratic political action committees.
The proposed appointments also provide more evidence that the DNC favored Clinton over her former primary challenger, Bernie Sanders.
Most of the donors listed on the spreadsheet have given to Clinton’s campaign. None gave to Sanders.
DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign on Sunday because of the anti-Sanders bias that showed up in documents released by WikiLeaks. (RELATED: Debbie Wasserman Schultz To Step Down As DNC Chair)
It is unclear from the DNC spreadsheet if any of the people on the list made specific requests for federal appointments.
But one tip-off that the document is detailing a quid pro quo is an entry next to the name of David Shapira, the executive chairman of grocery store chain Giant Eagle, Inc.
“USPS” — a likely reference to the U.S. Postal Service — is entered on the spreadsheet.
President Obama nominated Shapira for a position on the USPS’ board of governors last year but the retail executive did not take the position because congressional Republicans held up his nomination.
Shapira and his wife Cynthia have donated heavily to Clinton, the DNC and other Democratic and liberal political action committees.
They have given the $2,700 maximum to Clinton. In 2014, Shapira contributed $100,000 to American Unity PAC, a political action committee that supports pro-LGBT candidates.
Cynthia Shapira has given $33,400 to the DNC this cycle and $58,400 to the Hillary Victory Fund since last year.
The Shapiras did not respond to a request for comment.
The donor spreadsheet is included in an email chain in which Jordan Kaplan, DNC’s national finance director, asks other officials to provide names of donors they want to propose for federal commissions.
“Last call for boards and commissions,” Kaplan wrote on April 20.
“If you have someone, send to [DNC finance chief of staff Scott] Comer – full name, city, state, email and phone number. Send as many as you want, just don’t know how many people will get to.”
The email confused at least one official involved in the exchange.
“Boards and commissions? Sorry, I’m lost,” wrote Jordan Vaughn, the national finance director for the DNC’s African American Leadership Council.
Comer explained: “Any folks who you’d like to be considered to be on the board of (for example) USPS, NEA, NEH. Basically anyone who has a niche interest and might like to serve on the board of one of these orgs.”
“I should say, though, that the likelihood of landing a spot on ones as prestigious as NEA/USPS is unlikely,” Comer added, referring to the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Postal Service.
“It’s much more likely they’ll get something like ‘President’s Commission on the Celebration of Women in American History.’ (no shade to women) But when you submit your names, we don’t need specific designations,” he continued.
Luis Miranda, the DNC’s communications director and Wasserman Schultz’s right-hand man, did not respond to a request for comment on the email chain and the spreadsheet.
Boehn, who once served as chairman for the political action committee Citizens for Reagan, says that the fact that Democrats are lining up appointments to federal committees months before the general election is strong evidence of a quid pro quo.
“Having participated in the boards and commissions work for President-elect Reagan, I know there’s no need to involve partisans months before the election,” he told TheDC. “These appointments are made on a staggered basis so there’s no rush.”
“As with so much associated with the Clinton operations, there is an appearance that these appointments have been pressed into service as a device to raise funds.”
The DNC list also includes David Trone. He’s the wine and beer retailer from Maryland who made national news earlier this year when he spent $13 million of his own money on an unsuccessful campaign for a U.S. House seat.
He has maxed out his donations to Clinton and has given $334,000 to the Democratic Hope Fund. He also gave the maximum $33,400 to the DNC in November.
Martin Elling is named in the document. He’s a senior partner at the consulting firm McKinsey & Company. He’s given maximum donations to the DNC as well as to the Clinton campaign. He has also contributed $10,000 to super PAC supporting Clinton.
Another notable name is A. Robert Pietrzak. He’s global co-ahead law firm Sidley Austin’s securities and shareholder litigation practice. In that role he defends clients against securities class action lawsuits.
He has previous experience as a member of a federal commission. He once served on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Financial Products Advisory Committee.
He has maxed out to Clinton as well as to the DNC.
Wayne Jordan, a real estate developer from northern California, is also on the list. He has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to various Democratic groups.
He gave $337,400 to the Hillary Victory Fund in December.
One person on the list appears to already hold a committee spot in the Obama administration.
Wade Randlett serves on the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. A prominent donor to the DNC, the Clinton campaign and other Democratic PACs, he is CEO of General Biofuels.