Clinton campaign adviser and Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden asked a local political adviser if New York Democratic congressional candidate would present a problem to Hillary Clinton.
An e-mail communication dated March 4, 2016 that included Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta included a conversation about the New York congressional Democratic primary race for the state’s 19th district between liberal icon Zephyr Teachout and Will Yandik.
“Is terry teachout running in your CD?,” Tanden asked, mistaking the identity of the political candidate for the Wall Street Journal drama critic and Duke Ellington biographer.
“Zephyr. Yes. Big problem,” Zan responded and began to complain about Zephyr’s primary opponent saying, “But I got mad at our guy bc he has weak political instincts. I set him up with great connections (not just donors but real strategists) and he failed to follow up etc. Zephyr is going to lose big time here. Our guy would have won but he has no path to win the primary. Ugh. I could go on and on. See I am learning politics from the ground level up. Haha.”
“I need Zephyr to not be a pain in the ass to Hillary,” Tanden replied. “Do you think she would endorse Bernie? Do you have her contact info?”
However, unbeknownst to the Clinton team at the time, Zephyr Teachout had already endorsed Sanders back in December of 2015.
Zan responded: “I don’t have it but maybe you should put [Sen. Kirsten] Gillibrand on the case. Gillibrand would not endorse my guy who is homegrown for the district bc she won’t go against a woman (even though I hear she is not a fan of Zephyr). Zephyr would be out of her mind happy to get attention from Gillibrand bc she is very popular here. I bet Z won’t endorse Bernie at this point bc she sees the writing on the wall and it would be crucial to have Hillary support her here in the general if Z indeed wins the primary.”
Zan continued, “But also bc it’s so contentious here: Dems are really split between Bernie and Hillary and it gets nasty. Zephyr would be insane to come out in favor of one or the other at this point in the race. Also here she has to paint herself as a moderate not a progressive bc she can’t win without some crossover. Down ticket voting is her only hope for a win against [Republican candidate John] Faso so she can’t afford to alienate Hillary. But then, people do dumb things all the time.”
Tanden then forwarded the conversation to Podesta telling him, “On zephyr teachout, the woman who primaried [Gov. Andrew] cuomo and is giant hero to liberals in ny. From my dem activist/leader friend on the ground. Zephyr is now running for congress in Hudson NY. Kirsten would be best to call.”
Professor Teachout’s opponent in the general, Republican Assemblyman John Faso slammed Teachout for allowing herself to be “bought out” by the Clinton campaign.
Faso’s campaign released a statement saying, “Using Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand as a surrogate, Clinton officials effectively bought Teachout’s silence despite her endorsement of Sanders in a 2015 op-ed in which she attacked Clinton for her ‘four big corruption problems.’ Published reports describe a Gillibrand fundraising email sent on March 31 on Teachout’s behalf. Clinton would go on to win New York.”
Faso himself went on to say, “When her candidate and his thousands of supporters needed her, Zephyr Teachout sided with the Clinton machine.” He added, “I’ve heard of selling your birthright for a mess of pottage, but selling out for a measly fundraising email? Our residents deserve an independent voice like Chris Gibson’s. With Zephyr Teachout, they’ll get someone like Clinton, who holds private opinions fundamentally at odds with the public statements she feeds voters on the campaign trail.”