Leaked Memo: Democratic Campaign Committee Demands “Unity” of 2018 Candidates

In TYT Investigates by TYT Investigates6 Comments

Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) speaks at a news conference on November 17, 2014, during which new members of the House Democratic leadership team were announced. Luján had just been selected to chair the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), a position he still holds. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

By Michael Tracey

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is making several demands of candidates preparing for the 2018 House elections, according to an internal memo obtained by TYT. The memo dictates policies on campaign spending and sexual harassment, and outlines requirements for Democratic Party “unity.” An email accompanying the memo gives campaigns until Friday, December 8, to respond.

The memo was sent by DCCC Executive Director Dan Sena on December 1 to candidates and campaign managers. Sena did not respond to a request for comment, nor did DCCC Communications Director Meredith Kelly.

Although the memo does not mention the highly contentious 2016 presidential primary, it includes a requirement that the campaigns must agree “not to engage in tactics that do harm to our chances of winning a General Election.” The memo does not identify what tactics it is prohibiting.

Candidates also must “hold a unity event with their primary opponents following a primary,” the memo says. What would constitute a “unity event” also is not made explicit.

With a wave of left-wing primary challengers seeking office, the memo’s dictates are being seen by some campaign staff as discouraging intraparty debate. One strategist working on a Democratic congressional campaign, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said that barring primary candidates from using tactics that might disadvantage the winner in the general election gives the edge to “corporatist candidates who have super PAC backing.” Those super PACs could carry out such attacks while smaller, grassroots campaigns without super PACs would be unable to respond.

“This is systematically designed to disadvantage progressives,” enrich DCCC “cronies,” and discourage the hiring of “progressive campaign staff,” the strategist said.

The Democratic National Committee press office did not reply to a request for comment.

The memo requests the signature of the candidate, but it’s unclear the extent to which it would be legally binding. The memo says the DCCC will provide “trainings and template campaign tools to candidates who have open lines of communication with the [DCCC].” Howie Klein, an activist who said he spoke to several candidates who received the memo, said “every one of them is laughing at it.”

“No one wants anything from [the DCCC] but money. And I’m talking even about candidates who are favored by the DCCC.”

The memo is addressed to candidates running in “Majority Makers” districts—House districts seen as having vulnerable Republican incumbents—but not all candidates in these races appear to have received the memo. What criteria the DCCC used for selecting recipients could not be ascertained.

The document also requires that candidates “establish a strong written sexual harassment policy for their campaign and all staff” and “complete an extensive online sexual harassment training, to be offered through the DCCC by a third-party vendor.” Rep. Ruben Kihuen, a freshman Democrat from Nevada, has been called on to resign by current DCCC Chairman Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi after allegations surfaced that he sexually harassed his campaign’s finance director in 2016. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the longest-serving member of the House, announced his “retirement” Tuesday after a slew of harassment allegations.

According to one Democratic strategist currently working for a House campaign, the sexual harassment language represents an attempt by Democratic leadership to insulate themselves from political and legal liability, more than a serious effort to curtail sexual misconduct. “The policy is a way for [the] DCCC to advertise that they don’t tolerate sexual abuse without holding any candidates to account,” the strategist said, noting that the policy provides for “no actual recourse from a higher authority.”

“I mean, if a candidate harasses us, what are we supposed to do?”

The memo requires that candidates hire “professional staff and consultants who can help execute a winning campaign” and says that the DCCC “will provide staff resumes and a comprehensive list of consultants” to help satisfy this requirement.

The memo mandates that candidates preserve at least 75 percent of all funds they raise for “paid communications”—which is seen as code for T.V. advertising, a method viewed by much of the new generation of Democrats as outmoded, especially for mobilizing young and minority voters who could be critical in 2018.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign and super PACs supporting her spent vastly more than Donald Trump did on television advertising during the 2016 campaign. According to one analysis, for instance, Clinton spent 53 times as much as Trump did on T.V. advertising in Florida markets during the final months of the race. Trump won the state.

While small-scale congressional races differ from presidential races, the emphasis on television advertising still irks some younger Democrats wary of the national party apparatus and seeking a new way of running political campaigns, modeled on the example of Bernie Sanders. “The [memo’s] template budget is really dishonest,” said the campaign strategist. “It’s meant to funnel money away from local parties and push it into their consultant class.”

Norman Solomon, an activist who was a Bernie Sanders 2016 convention delegate and in 2012 ran for Congress in California as a Democrat, said, “The DCCC has a very bad history of pushing out more progressive candidates during a primary—and the bad history has not ended. It’s always a subtle blackmail; if you don’t show that you can play ball, we’re going to freeze you out.”

Full text of memo, which TYT is not publishing in its original form in order to protect the source, can be found here:

DCCC Memo To 2018 Candidates


  1. We don’t have time not to. Time is being wasted just like many wasted it by voting for HRC when we could have instantly grown the Green Party. The Democratic establishment is now telling you outright they don’t want Justice democrats. Geez Oh Whiz! You’re just as obedient as Trump voters after he called them dumb-literally “low information voters” is what he called them.

  2. Regarding the consultant class, don’t forget the trouble Bernie’s campaign experienced by an IT guy, recommended by the dnc, opened Clinton campaign files. If the dccc doesn’t back off, we might have to rethink Justice Democrats.

    1. What Kelly said.

      Justice Dems may want to join the People’s party, DSA, Green or something along those lines if they dont want to form their own. Takeover of the Dems wont seem impossible until we see how they freeze us out and by then we will have wasted several years.

      We dont have that time to waste …

      1. That’s the exact point I’ve been making. “We don’t need a new third party,” people say, and I agree. We need a new FIRST party, an outright replacement for the useless, corrupt, bought-and-paid-for, paid-to-lose, pathetic, obsolete, failed, so-called “Democratic” (hahaha) Party. When the Justice Democrats were announced, I was angry–angry that I had waited for the episode of TYT to be posted as a podcast, and not seen it live, meaning I couldn’t be the FIRST PERSON TO SIGN UP! I went straight to their website, read the details, signed up, and had a conversation with one of the organizers… can’t recall the name. It was a back-and-forth exchange in which I asked for clarification of the intent. You see, some people seemed convinced, (and I was convinced they were wrong,) that the point of the Justice Democrats was to replace the failed, useless, etc. etc. etc., “Democratic” (hahaha) Party.

        That person told me that, no, the intent was to take it over from within, basically… and I’m paraphrasing, but what she said was that the intent was to REFORM, at which point I regrettably said, “count me out.”

        Call me back, I told her, when you’re serious. To me, the so-called “Democratic” (hahaha) Party has NOTHING to offer us. NOTHING.

        What do they have that we either want or need? Let’s go down the list, because it is as true today as the day I said it, about a year or so ago.

        1. The name: They don’t actually OWN the word “democrat,” nor “democratic,” nor “democracy”. They might legally be able to stop us from calling ourselves the “Democratic Party,” but the word “democratic” itself cannot be owned, it’s just a word in our language, with roots in… I believe Greek, going back thousands of years. We’d claim prior art. By putting the qualifier “Justice,” it differentiates our group from theirs, and no one paying any attention would confuse the “Democratic Party” as they like to call themselves, (abusing the word Democratic as their party is only that in NAME, and nothing else, as the farce that was the 2016 rigged Primaries season showed us,) with “The Justice Democrats”. We neither need their permission, nor their assistance calling ourselves “Justice Democrats,” although honestly, that word has such a stench around it for me now, that I’d rather be called something else, and I mean “democrat” not “justice”.

        2. Their organization: Corrupt to its very core, permanently stained and tainted, full of people who think that what Schultz and Clinton did was fine because they’re more concerned with themselves than the putative mission of the party. FUCK ’em, every last one. Right in the eye. I want nothing to do with that corrupt, useless bunch of asses.

        3. Their incumbent politicians with whom to work to logroll legislation, etc.: Um, no. The whole problem is that there are a bunch of partisan hacks who only give lip-service to the causes they try to trick the electorate into thinking they give a damn about. I don’t want people I support and work to elect to work with THOSE people, who will stain them with their corruption, whose bad habits will rub off on them, and who will try to make THEM (newly elected JDs) support their (that is, corporate dems’) agenda, which means getting the newly elected JDs, (assuming we can GET any elected,) working AGAINST the ends of what is best for the American people as a whole.

        4. Their DONORS and their (the donors’) precious fucking money: NO. That was what corrupted them in the FIRST place. We DEFINITELY don’t want that, or at least, I don’t, and I ***HOPE*** they don’t, anyone I support or vote for.

        5. Their good will? What good will. Half the country fucking HATES them, and the other half holds their noses and shows up and votes, often with little or no enthusiasm, for whatever half-baked, corrupt, useless, bought-and-paid-for bag of shit the donors decide on. Fuck. That.

        6. Their legacy: Again, no. While FDR did SOME good things that Democrats (people, not pols) could be proud of, they were also the party that fought FOR slavery, back when the Republicans were against it. The legacy, the history of the Democratic Party, originally forged to elect Andrew “Jackass” Jackson, (from whose nickname among those who disliked him, I believe the symbol for the party is derived,) the guy in the picture behind tRump when he was embarrassing himself and everyone connected with him in front of men more heroic than he can even imagine, since his little sissy ass didn’t even show up when the country ‘needed’ him, (it didn’t really, he would have been a useless sack of shit whether wearing a uniform or not, but I digress,) who signed the Indian Removal Act, is checkered at best. Better to start fresh, and avoid the STENCH of the historical “Democratic” (hahaha) Party, AND the more recent legacy of taking a giant SHIT all over the desires of democratic VOTERS, and trying to force-feed us Hillary Rotten Clinton, as a presidential candidate despite being obviously one of the very worst choices they could conceivably have made, who went on to lose to a sad, angry, impotent CLOWN.

        So what, I ask, does the so-called “Democratic” (hahaha) Party have for US, that we should want? I have yet to hear any good reason for trying to “save” or “reform” this dried up pile of cow shit and dead skunks, soaked in urine and vomit.

        We should instead strive to be attracting Democratic VOTERS, who are SICK and TIRED of the so-called “Democratic” (in name only) Party and their bullshit, their lies, their uselessness, their pathetic sadness, their cheating, etc. etc. etc., and give them a reason to come out and VOTE on Election Day. A reason to do so even in the face of potential intimidation and efforts to suppress them, to marginalize them, or to silence them. We should also try to attract Independent voters, who WOULD vote for the Democrat in the race, if not for the fact that by being ATTACHED to the name “Democratic Party,” (as they like to call themselves,) attaches that corrupt, useless party’s STENCH to him or her. I’m one of these. I am registered as a Democrat, I believe, still… but I only registered because in my state that’s REQUIRED to vote in the primary. To be clear: I registered as a Democrat for ONE reason, and one reason ONLY: and that reason turned out to be BS. (Because he quit. He QUIT. He QUIT while primaries were still happening, and endorsed, as far as I’m concerned, his opponent, so… fuck him.)

        We should also try to appeal to disaffected REPUBLICAN voters. The message could be simple: we know you want to burn down the system, we know this. We know you’re angry, and we are too. But voting for an orange-painted buffoon is not the answer, please don’t do it again. The whole reason the corrupt, useless DNC was able to force-feed us Clinton was because of the corrupting effects of money in politics. You may not agree with the progressive values of our candidates, which tend to be more SOCIALLY progressive than you like. BUT their number one goal is to GET. MONEY. OUT. OF. POLITICS. And they (and we) need your help to do that. If money were no longer a factor, maybe you could get DECENT candidates on the Republican side too, instead of them scraping the bottom of the barrel so hard that you get that 17-person-wide field of total losers you were told you had to choose from among. With money OUT of politics, politicians, liberal AND conservative, could actually DO THIER JOBS, instead of spending most of the time after they’re elected, begging rich people for money so they can get RE-ELECTED a few years later. The Republicans you’d have to choose from would, once elected, serve YOU, the Republican voter, instead of screwing you over at every opportunity, like with the SCAM tax “reform” bill they passed in a secretive, dirty, slimy fashion, which is how they’ll do everything from now on, because like the so-called “Democratic” (hahaha) Party, the Republicans are BOUGHT AND PAID FOR. USELESS.

        We need to appeal to ALL possible potential voters with a simple, effective message, which is “to hell with all the corrupt, useless, bought-and-paid-for stooges for the ultra-rich and soulless multinational corporations who now rule us all through their “elected” meat-puppets. We are replacing them. BOTH. With REAL Americans, from REAL America who have at least one thing in common: they don’t take bribes known as “campaign donations” and won’t coordinate with PACs. (I know the GOP & DOP pretend they’re not coordinating with them, but… come ON.)

        So, I do wish all the Justice Democrats the best of luck, but as I’ve decided after 2016 that I will never vote for another Democrat for any office under any circumstances, (because after they cheated Bernie, and the rest of us, and fucked America and the world in the ass by giving us Donald Trump because they just HAD to have their precious Hillary, fuck them right in the fucking face,) but until they stop wasting time and effort on the fool’s errand that is reforming or fixing or righting or saving, whatever you want to call it, the failed, useless, etc. etc. etc., so-called “Democratic” (hahaha) Party, I cannot lend my support, and probably won’t vote for any as might happen to be running for office in either my district or state. They’d just end up another failed, useless, corrupted, tainted, stained, damaged one-term congress member, and I simply refuse to participate in that.

        (Why am I so hard on the DNC and their party? Because I think that if they pull the fucking bullshit they did in 2016, and there are no consequences for that, that will just encourage them, or their successors to do it again. What I want all parties to learn from 2016, in the future, is that if you say “fuck the voters,” betray us, go behind our backs and try to bend us over and fuck us in the ass without lubricant or so much as a kiss, like in 2016, that that will END them as a party. I want the Democratic Party to go the way of the Democratic-Republicans, (no relation to either,) the Whigs, and the “Know Nothings”… failed, obsolete political parties consigned to the shitheap of history, and then for the Republican Party, to follow immediately thereafter.)

        When the Justice Democrats give up trying to fix or reform the “Democratic” (hahaha) Party, and decide to focus on WINNING and getting money out of politics, (you kind of have to do the FIRST before the second, if you’re going to do it from within,) let me know. I’d love to have someone to vote for. If not, I guess I’ll pick what I feel is the best candidate from among whoever is going to lose, and vote for them. Last time, (2016) it was Gary Johnson. (I know, I was embarrassed too about the whole Aleppo thing, but you know what? It takes maybe a minute to learn WHERE it is, and a few hours concerted study to know WHAT it is, and what’s going on there. THAT at least was an easily-remedied problem, much less of one than being owned and operated like a puppet by super-rich owners. But on the plus-side, you can’t BOMB them if you don’t know who or where they are.) Next time it might not be the Libertarian Party candidate. Might be the Green Party, (if they run someone SERIOUS this time,) or another one.

        But I categorically REFUSE to vote FOR one person whom I don’t believe in, just to stop another, allegedly worse person whom I also don’t believe in. I just won’t do it. My vote is MINE to bestow, I don’t OWE it to anyone. I rather doubt I’m alone in this. So again, good luck, Justice Dems. Really. Good luck.

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