December 21, 2016

DNC Chairman Race Consumed By Chaos

The DNC race is two months away, and the proxy battle between the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders wings of party rages on. With the official entrance of Tom Perez, members now have a candidate to vote for who is close to President Obama and the establishment wing. During President Obama’s final press conference, the president “made little effort to conceal his preference” for Perez, according to the Huffington Post:

“Obama has made little effort to conceal his preference for Perez over Ellison, but has not formally endorsed. On Friday during a press conference, he called Perez ‘wicked smart,’ among a long list of plaudits, then added that others who are running are also ‘fine people.’”

Yet this sets up a dilemma for many DNC figures. Do they want to vote for the candidate backed by a President who let the DNC atrophy to irrelevance:

“DNC members with ties to Clinton tend to have far less affection for Obama, not for ideological reasons, but because they blame him for letting the DNC fall apart under his watch. During his 2008 campaign, Obama set up Obama for America, which was effectively a parallel DNC. The DNC itself fell into disrepair during his administration, and he largely shut down OFA.”

Yet the other major candidate, Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), has significant baggage of his own. According to The Hill, Skeletons from Ellison’s past, including tax problems and campaign finance violations, are being raced to cast doubt on Ellison’s fitness for the DNC Chairman:

“Opponents of Rep. Keith Ellison’s bid to be the next Democratic National Committee chairman are raising new questions about the Minnesota Democrat’s past to make the case that he’s unfit to be the party’s next leader. Ellison’s critics in the DNC and some supporters of Labor secretary Tom Perez, the other top candidate, are pointing to the Minnesota Democrat’s past tax troubles, campaign finance violations and minor legal issues that once led to his driver’s license being suspended as evidence that he’s ill-equipped to lead the DNC.”

In the past Ellison racked up tax liens to such an extent that he had to pay $18,000 to the IRS for unpaid income taxes. Significantly, Ellison also violated campaign finance rules in his past Minnesota campaigns:

“Between 2002 and 2004, when he was a state representative, the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure board subpoenaed and ultimately fined Ellison’s campaign over ‘discrepancies in cash balances, misclassified disbursements and unreported contributions.’”

As one DNC member from California, Bob Mulholland, said about electing Ellison, Democrats would be electing a “tax cheat who drives without a license.” While another DNC member said these latest charges “diminish [Ellison’s] credibility significantly.”

It now appears that no matter which way DNC members vote in February, either Perez or Ellison will take over the DNC with as much baggage as failed Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Democrats are in for some long years ahead.