Bernie Sanders’ call for ouster of two convention co-chairs rejected

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., salutes at a campaign rally at the Los Angeles Maritime Museum in San Pedro district of Los Angeles Friday, May 27, 2016.

Democratic National Committee officials on Saturday turned down Bernie Sanders’ formal request for the ouster of “aggressive attack surrogates” for Hillary Clinton from key national convention committees.

The campaign announced earlier that it wanted to remove Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy as a co-chairman of the Platform Committee and former Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank as head of the Rules Committee. Frank has sharply criticized Sanders’ positions on breaking up big banks and Malloy has criticized Sanders on guns.

“Governor Malloy and Mr. Frank have both been aggressive attack surrogates for the Clinton campaign,” Sanders campaign counsel Brad Deutsch wrote in a letter to the party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee. “Their criticisms of Sen. Sanders have gone beyond dispassionate ideological disagreement and have exposed a deeper professional, political and personal hostility toward the senator and his campaign.”.

But committee co-chairs Jim Roosevelt and Lorraine Miller responded that his challenge “fails to meet the criteria” for their dismissal. It did not allege any violations in the conduct of their elections to their posts by the DNC executive committee in January, they wrote.

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The Sanders campaign’s Friday letter to Democratic National Committee rules officials marks the latest turn in Sanders’ feud with party officials. It comes a week after Sanders said he would make sure Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida isn’t reappointed to her role as head of the DNC if he becomes president and he began fundraising for her primary opponent, Tim Canova.

Most members of the convention standing committees — rules, platform and credentials — are awarded to candidates based on the results of those primaries and caucuses. But under party rules, Wasserman Schultz recommended co-chairs and a slate of 25 at-large appointments per committee for approval by the party’s executive committee.

In a May 6 letter to Wasserman Schultz, Sanders complained she selected only three of his more than 40 recommendations for committee appointments, and he expressed no confidence in Malloy or Frank, writing their appointments suggest the committees are being established “in an overtly partisan way.”.

Deutsch argued Friday that Frank and Malloy can’t be relied upon to perform convention duties fairly “while laboring under such deeply held bias.”.

“The appointment of two individuals so outspokenly critical of Sen. Sanders, and so closely affiliated with Secretary Clinton’s campaign, raises concerns that two of the three Convention Standing Committees are being constituted in an overtly partisan way designed to exclude meaningful input from supporters of Sen. Sanders’ candidacy,” Deutsch wrote.

In April, Tad Devine, Sanders’ senior adviser, said Frank is among surrogates for Hillary Clinton who used Sanders’ remarks to a New York Daily News editorial board on April 1 to promote a story line that questions Sanders’ capacity to be president. Devine pointed to Frank’s April 6 statements on MSNBC that Sanders “confused several things” in his responses to questions about his core issue of breaking up big banks. Frank also said Sanders’ responses to the editorial board were not “coherent.”.

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Frank said in an April interview with USA TODAY that he would step aside from his co-chairmanship if the Democratic nomination is still uncertain in June and if a Rules Committee decision could be the deciding factor. With Clinton’s decisive lead in delegates, that appears unlikely.

A Connecticut Democratic Party spokesman told USA TODAY earlier this month that Malloy agrees with Sanders on many issues. On Saturday, Leigh Appleby said Malloy is committed to a platform and process reflective of the party’s diverse viewpoints.

“This year’s Democratic platform process is making an unprecedented effort to ensure the process is reflective of the entire party and that every Democrat has an opportunity to have their voice heard in a meaningful way,” Appleby said in a statement. “And at the end of the day, Democats will put forward a platform that stands in stark contrast to the hateful, divisive, and dangerous policies of Donald Trump.”.

Sanders camp: Better options for DNC chair out there than Wasserman Schultz.