The Bernie Sanders presidential campaign filed suit against a "dangerously incompetent" Democratic National Committee on Friday after the campaign's access to Democratic Party voter data was suspended. The DNC took away the candidate's access after a technology glitch allowed a Sanders staffer to improperly view voter data collected by Hillary Clinton's campaign.
"We have invested enormous campaign resources in acquiring the rights to use this proprietary information," campaign manager Jeff Weaver said in a press conference Friday. "But the DNC, in an inappropriate overreaction, has denied us access to our own data."
Weaver had promised that if DNC officials did not quickly restore the campaign's access to the information, and "continued to try to attack the heart and soul of our campaign, we will be in federal court this afternoon seeking an immediate injunction."
On Wednesday, the DNC's firewall between Clinton and Sanders vote data was breached following a technical glitch made by NGP VAN, the vendor hired to manage the data.
The short breach allowed a Sanders staffer to access information collected by Team Clinton, according to the Washington Post, which broke the story late Thursday.
On Friday, Weaver called the actions by NGP VAN "dangerously incompetent," and blamed the intrusion on the company's technical mix up. He said the campaign is aware of multiple times when the vendor dropped the firewall between the two campaigns.
Weaver said that following past breaches, the campaign alerted the DNC, as they were concerned the Clinton campaign could have accessed Sanders' voter data.
We were concerned that large amounts of our data was compromised," he said.
He acknowledged that Sanders staffers had accessed some of Clinton's data in past days, but that it was never downloaded or printed out.
"We fired the staffer immediately and made certain that any information obtained was not utilized," Weaver said. "We are now speaking to other staffers who might have been involved."
CNN reported Friday that the fired staffer was Josh Uretsky, the campaign's national data director.
On Friday, the Clinton campaign said they were notified by DNC officials that four different Sanders accounts conducted 25 searches of their data and that this data was saved.
"We are asking that the Sanders campaign and the DNC work expeditiously to ensure that our data is not in the Sanders campaign's account," said spokesman Brian Fallon in a statement.
Also Friday, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-FL, defended the move to suspend data access to the campaign.
"Staff on the Sanders campaign not only viewed the Clinton campaign's proprietary data, but from what we're being told, downloaded it, exported it and downloaded it," she said on MSNBC.
In a statement NGP VAN contradicted Schultz's assertion, saying the campaign was "able to search by and view (but not export or save or act on) some attributes that came from another campaign."
The campaign has long complained of overt bias towards Clinton by the DNC, and Weaver said Friday the shutoff was another example of "sabotage."
He also invoked the DNC's refusal to host more debates, and inopportune scheduling of the events, as examples of the organization's bias.
The next Democratic debate, scheduled for Saturday evening in Manchester, is expected to draw a low turnout because of its weekend slot and its proximity to the holidays.
"It looks like they are trying to help the Clinton campaign," he said.
Democracy for America, a grassroots political organization that endorsed Sanders Thursday, released a statement Friday demanding the DNC restore Sanders' access.
DFA Executive Director Charles Chamberlain said the DNC's "decision to attack the campaign that out the problem, rather than go after the vendor that made the mistake, is profoundly damaging to the party's Democratic process."
"DNC leaders should immediately reverse this disturbing decision," he added.
New Hampshire Communications Director Karthik Ganapathy said Friday that things in local field offices were hectic, and that it would be impossible to knock on doors of likely voters over the weekend if the campaign continued to be shut off from the database.
Weaver said the move by the DNC had not halted the campaign, saying Sanders would still clinch the nomination.
"We are determined to win this campaign, and we are going to win this campaign by talking about our issues," he said at the end of the press conference.
"To do that," he added, "We need our data."