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Democratic National Committee
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is the governing body of the United States Democratic Party. The committee coordinates strategy to support Democratic Party candidates throughout the country for local, state, and national office. It organizes the Democratic National Convention held every four years to nominate a candidate for President of the United States and to formulate the party platform. While it provides support for party candidates, it does not have direct authority over elected officials.
Its chair is elected by the committee. It conducts fundraising to support its activities.
Role and organization
The DNC is responsible for articulating and promoting the Democratic platform and coordinating party organizational activity. When the president is a Democrat, the party generally works closely with the president. In presidential elections, it supervises the national convention and, both independently and in coordination with the presidential candidate, raises funds, commissions polls, and coordinates campaign strategy. Following the selection of a party nominee, the public funding laws permit the national party to coordinate certain expenditures with the nominee, but additional funds are spent on general, party-building activities. There are state committees in every state, as well as local committees in most cities, wards, and towns (and, in most states, counties).
The chairperson of the DNC is elected by vote of members of the Democratic National Committee.:5 The DNC is composed of the chairs and vice-chairs of each state Democratic Party's central committee, two hundred members apportioned among the states based on population and generally elected either on the ballot by primary voters or by the state Democratic Party committee, a number of elected officials serving in an ex officio capacity, and a variety of representatives of major Democratic Party constituencies.
The DNC establishes rules for the caucuses and primaries which choose delegates to the Democratic National Convention, but the caucuses and primaries themselves are most often run not by the DNC but instead by each individual state. Primary elections, in particular, are invariably conducted by state governments according to their own laws. Political parties may choose to participate or not participate in a state's primary election, but no political party executives have any jurisdiction over the dates of primary elections, or how they are conducted.
Outside of the process of nominating a presidential candidate, the DNC's role in actually selecting candidates to run on the party ticket is minimal.
All DNC members are superdelegates to the Democratic National Convention, and their role can affect the outcome over a close primary race. These delegates, officially described as "unpledged party leader and elected official delegates," fall into three categories based on other positions they hold:
- elected members of the Democratic National Committee,
- sitting Democratic governors and members of Congress, and
- distinguished party leaders, consisting of current and former presidents, vice presidents, congressional leaders, and DNC chairs, are all superdelegates for life.
In the 2016 election cycle, the DNC raised a total of US$75,945,536 as of July 21, 2016. The three largest contributors were Renaissance Technologies (US$677,850), Newsweb Corporation (US$334,000), and Total Wine (US$298,100).
In the 2020 election cycle, the DNC raised a total of US$107,030,025 as of June 23, 2020. The three largest contributors were Renaissance Technologies (US$910,000), Microsoft (US$897,423), and Art Advisors LLC (US$710,000).
In June 2008, after Senator Barack Obama became the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Dean announced that the DNC, emulating the Obama campaign, would no longer accept donations from federal lobbyists. In July 2015, during the 2016 election cycle, the DNC, led by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, reversed this policy.
- Chair: Jaime Harrison, former South Carolina senatorial candidate
- Vice Chair of Civic Engagement and Voter Participation: Karen Carter Peterson
- Vice Chairs:
- Michael Blake, New York Assemblyman
- Jaime Harrison, Associate Chair and former South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman. On January 14, 2021, it was reported that U.S. President-elect Joe Biden would nominate Harrison to Chair the Democratic National Committee. As the presumptive Chair, Harrison will succeed Tom Perez on January 21, once he is elected by the DNC membership.
- Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary–Treasurer of the AFL-CIO
- Ken Martin, Chair of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party
- Grace Meng, U.S. Representative from New York's 6th congressional district
- Treasurer: William "Bill" Derrough
- Secretary: Jason Rae
- Finance Chair: Chris Korge
After a close victory over Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, Perez appointed Ellison as Deputy Chair in an attempt to lessen the divide in the Democratic Party after the contentious 2016 Democratic presidential primaries, which saw conflicts between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Perez was seen as being more in line with the Clinton wing, while Ellison was more in line with the Sanders wing. The role's revival in 2017 has been described by critics as largely titular and ceremonial.
Chinagate was an alleged effort by the People's Republic of China to influence domestic American politics prior to and during the Clinton administration. In 2002, the Federal Election Commission fined the Democratic National Committee $115,000 for its part in fundraising violations in 1996.
- According to committee officials and security experts, two competing Russian intelligence services were discovered on DNC computer networks. One intelligence service achieved infiltration beginning in the summer of 2015 and the other service breached and roamed the network beginning in April 2016. The two groups accessed emails, chats, and research on an opposing presidential candidate. They were expelled from the DNC system in June 2016.
- The hacker Guccifer 2.0 claimed that he hacked into the Democratic National Committee computer network and then leaked its emails to the newspaper The Hill. During a CNN interview with Jake Tapper, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, Robby Mook, cited experts saying that the DNC emails were leaked by the Russians but did not name the experts. The press and cybersecurity firms discredited the Guccifer 2.0 claim, as investigators now believe Guccifer 2.0 was an agent of the G.R.U., Russia's military intelligence service.
2016 email leak
On July 22, 2016, WikiLeaks released approximately 20,000 DNC emails. Critics claimed that the Committee unequally favored Hillary Clinton and acted in support of her nomination while opposing the candidacy of her primary challenger Bernie Sanders. Donna Brazile corroborated these allegations in an excerpt of her book published by Politico in November 2017. The leaked emails spanned sixteen months, terminating in May 2016.
The WikiLeaks releases led to the resignations of Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Communications Director Luis Miranda, Chief Financial Officer Brad Marshall and Chief Executive Amy Dacey. After she resigned, Wasserman Schultz put out a statement about possible FBI assistance in investigating the hacking and leaks, saying that "the DNC was never contacted by the FBI or any other agency concerned about these intrusions." During a Senate hearing in January 2017, James Comey testified that the FBI requested access to the DNC's servers, but its request was denied. He also testified that old versions of the Republican National Committee's servers were breached, but then-current databases were unaffected.
The DNC has existed since 1848. During the 1848 Democratic National Convention, a resolution was passed creating the Democratic National Committee, composed of thirty members, one person per state, chosen by the states' delegations, and chaired by Benjamin F. Hallett.
- Green National Committee
- Libertarian National Committee
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- Official website
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