Accessibility links

Breaking News

Sanders Campaign Granted Access to DNC Data After Legal Standoff

FILE - Hillary Clinton, right, makes a point as Bernie Sanders listens during a Democratic presidential primary debate in Des Moines, Iowa, Nov. 15, 2015.

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' campaign has won a victory in a legal fight for access to a crucial voter database.

Sanders' campaign was granted access to the information early Saturday, just hours after filing a federal lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee.

The party organization had withheld the campaign's access to the database, claiming the Vermont senator's presidential campaign exploited a software error to improperly access confidential information collected by the team of his rival, Hillary Clinton.

DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement that the organization is restoring access for the Sanders campaign based on information his campaign supplied about the breach and its promise to cooperate with an investigation.

Schultz said the DNC will ensure that the Sanders campaign has deleted the data that it inappropriately accessed.

Acknowledges breach

Sanders' campaign acknowledged the breach in a statement, blamed it on the Democratic Party's software vendor and said it was an isolated incident, media reports said. Also, a top data staffer for the Sanders campaign was fired.

A person familiar with the matter told CNN the staffer who was fired for accessing the voter data was Josh Uretsky, the campaign's national data director. Uretsky told CNN he was not trying to take data from Clinton's operation.

"We knew there was a security breach in the data and we were just trying to understand it and what was happening," Uretsky told CNN on Friday, adding that he was trying to understand his candidate's own campaign data vulnerability.

Coming less than two months before the first votes will be cast, and on the eve of the party's next presidential debate, the squabble thrust into the open longstanding suspicions expressed by Sanders and his supporters that the national party is unfairly working to support Clinton's candidacy.

"Clearly, in this case, they are trying to help the Clinton campaign,'' Sanders' campaign manager Jeff Weaver said of the Democratic National Committee.

DNC action

The DNC’s action could have been a crippling blow to the Sanders campaign had it lasted longer.

The DNC maintains a master file of voters that each campaign can independently add to and analyze.

Without access to the data, Sanders campaign officials said they could not perform basic functions, such as identifying supporters in Iowa or telling volunteers whom they should call to get out the vote in New Hampshire.

The lawsuit claimed that without access to the data, it would lose about $600,000 a day in campaign donations.

Some information for this report came from Reuters.