DNC Puts Forth Lobbyists as Superdelegates, Ousts Longtime Officials

Image via Getty.
Image via Getty.

The DNC is facing scrutiny for the ouster of four longtime DNC officials, all of whom either did not support chairman Tom Perez’s bid to lead the DNC or supported Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential nomination over Hillary Clinton’s. In addition, Bloomberg reports, a list of Perez’s nominations for members-at-large of the DNC, who will have superdelegate votes, include a lobbyist for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and a lobbyist for Venezuela’s government-run petroleum company. Gang’s all here!


From NBC:

The removal and demotion of a handful of veteran operatives stood out, as did what critics charge is the over-representation of Clinton-backed members on the Rules and Bylaws Committee, which helps set the terms for the party’s presidential primary, though other Sanders and Ellison backers remain represented.

Those who have been pushed out include:

Ray Buckley, the New Hampshire Democratic chairman and longtime DNC official who ran against Perez for chair before backing Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn. Buckley lost his spots on the Executive Committee and DNC Rules Committee.

James Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute and prominent Sanders backer, is no longer co-chair of the Resolutions Committee and is off the Executive Committee, a spot he has held since 2001.

Alice Germond, the party’s longtime former secretary and a vocal Ellison backer, who was removed from her at-large appointment to the DNC.

Barbra Casbar Siperstein, who supported Ellison and Buckley, was tossed from the Executive Committee.


Germond, a popular longtime DNC member who was also pushed out of her secretary post in 2013 by Obama allies, told NBC that she was removed “without even a call from the chairman.”

“I understand that I fought very hard for Keith Ellison. And I understand that to the winners go the spoils,” she acknowledged.

Zogby, meanwhile, has been outspoken in his criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “malevolent rule,” and has advocated strongly for Palestinian rights; he was one of Bernie Sanders’ picks to the party platform drafting committee in 2016, signaling Sanders’ interest in a more balanced approach to U.S. policy on Israel.

“I don’t want this fight and still don’t want to have a fight, but I’m troubled,” Zogby told Vox. “This doesn’t look good.”


“Keith suggested names for DNC at-large membership and committees,” a spokeswoman for Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), who lost the race for DNC chair to Perez, told Vox. “Some were selected, and some were not.” Ellison was named to the DNC’s influential executive committee, Vox reports, along with Texas State Senator Royce West, who supported his bid.

Lobbyists nominated by Perez include Joanne Dowdell, who is senior vice president of global government affairs at News Corp, the Murdoch-run parent company of Fox News, and Manuel Ortiz, who has lobbied on behalf of Venezuela’s petroleum company and Citigroup. Bloomberg notes that at least 10 other superdelegates chosen by Perez have served as corporate lobbyists in the past, which is a bad look for a party struggling to position itself as the voice of the working class. Other picks include Clinton ally Tony Coelho, who resigned from Congress in 1989 amid an ethics probe, and Harold Ickes, a former Clinton operative and lobbyist lately known for a controversial relationship with New York City mayor Bill de Blasio.


Former DNC interim chair Donna Brazile, who provided Hillary Clinton with debate questions ahead of time during the 2016 nomination contest, will sit on the Rules & Bylaws committee, which has sway over the party’s primary procedures.

The list also includes an increase in union representatives and Native Americans, as well as the DNC’s first undocumented superdelegate, which DNC spokesman Michael Tyler emphasized in a statement to Bloomberg. Perez’s picks, he said, “reflect the unprecedented diversity of our party’s coalition.”

Ellie is a freelance writer and former senior writer at Jezebel. She is pursuing a master's degree in science journalism at Columbia University in the fall.


The Noble Renard

Generally speaking, I think the makeup of the DNC’s committees is largely irrelevant when it comes to issues like selecting the president, but I’m definitely disheartened to see people like Donna Brazile rewarded when they played a large role in the complete fuckup that was the last election. That said, the value of the DNC & RNC in actually getting anything done is increasingly unclear, especially given the RNC’s utter failure over the last four years to get what it wants (they fought tooth and nail to destroy Trump and were just completely unable to stop him). But even so, the DNC has a particularly important role right now and should be harnessing the energy of the progressive wing of the party in a much more effective way.

That said, I do think the hysteria over the existence of party apparatchiks in the DNC is completely overblown. Superdelegate appointments have always been about rewarding loyal donors and supporters, and I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with that. As much as people scream about the supposedly undemocratic nature of superdelegates, superdelegates have never exercised their power against the will of the people in primary elections. What actually needs to stop happening is the media reporting how they’re going to vote, because they’re not going to go against the results of the primary elections anyway and it does create a distorted picture. They’re basically just fancy badges to get people to give more $$$, and no one should take that seriously.