The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is the formal governing body for the United States Democratic Party. The committee coordinates strategy to support Democratic Party candidates throughout the country for local, state, and national office. It organizes the Democratic National Convention held every four years to nominate and confirm a candidate for president, and to formulate the party platform. While it provides support for party candidates, it does not have direct authority over elected officials.
The DNC is composed of the chairs and vice-chairs of each state Democratic Party committee and over 200 members elected by Democrats in all 50 states and the territories. Its chairperson is elected by the committee. It conducts fundraising to support its activities.
The DNC was established at the 1848 Democratic National Convention. The DNC's main counterpart is the Republican National Committee.
The DNC is responsible for articulating and promoting the Democratic platform and coordinating party organizational activity. When the president is a Democrat, the party generally works closely with the president. In presidential elections it supervises the national convention and, both independently and in coordination with the presidential candidate, raises funds, commissions polls, and coordinates campaign strategy. Following the selection of a party nominee, the public funding laws permit the national party to coordinate certain expenditures with the nominee, but additional funds are spent on general, party-building activities. There are state committees in every state, as well as local committees in most cities, wards, and towns (and, in most states, counties).
The chairperson of the DNC is elected by vote of members of the Democratic National Committee. The DNC is composed of the chairs and vice-chairs of each state Democratic Party's central committee, two hundred members apportioned among the states based on population and generally elected either on the ballot by primary voters or by the state Democratic Party committee, a number of elected officials serving in an ex officio capacity, and a variety of representatives of major Democratic Party constituencies.
The DNC establishes rules for the caucuses and primaries which choose delegates to the Democratic National Convention, but the caucuses and primaries themselves are most often run not by the DNC but instead by each individual state. Primary elections, in particular, are invariably conducted by state governments according to their own laws. Political parties may choose to participate or not participate in a state's primary election, but no political party executives have any jurisdiction over the dates of primary elections, or how they are conducted.
Outside of the process of nominating a presidential candidate, the DNC's role in actually selecting candidates to run on the party ticket is minimal.
All DNC members are superdelegates to the Democratic National Convention whose role can influence a close primary race. These delegates, officially described as "unpledged party leader and elected official delegates," fall into three categories based on other positions they hold:Elected members of the Democratic National Committee.
Sitting Democratic governors and members of Congress.
Distinguished party leaders, consisting of current and former presidents, vice presidents, congressional leaders, and DNC chairs, are all superdelegates for life.
In the 2002 election cycle, the DNC and its affiliated committees (which include numerous local committees and committees formed to coordinate expenditures for specific districts or races) raised a total of US $162,062,084, 42% of which was hard money. The largest contributor, with US $7,297,937 was the Saban Capital Group, founded in 2001 by Haim Saban. Fred Eychaner, the owner of Newsweb Corporation, gave the second highest amount of money to the DNC and its affiliates, US $5,175,000. The third largest contributor was Steve Bing of Shangri-La Entertainment, who gave US $4,758,000.
In the 2006 election cycle, the DNC raised a total of US $37,939,887. The three largest contributors were investment bank Goldman Sachs (US $225,600). University of California (US $121,980) and Pond North LLP (US $109,296).
The DNC introduced a small-donor fund raising campaign, the Democracy Bonds program, set up by Howard Dean in the summer of 2005. There were only 31,000 Democracy Bond donors by May 2006, off-pace from the goal of 1 million donors by 2008. The program no longer is in place.
In the 2016 election cycle, the DNC raised a total of US $75,945,536 as of July 21, 2016. The three largest contributors were hedge fund Renaissance Technologies (US $677,850), Newsweb Corp (US $334,000) and Total Wine (US $298,100).
In June 2008, after Senator Barack Obama became the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Dean announced that the DNC, emulating the Obama campaign, would no longer accept donations from federal lobbyists. In July 2015, during the 2016 election cycle, the DNC, led by Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, reversed this policy.Chair: Tom Perez, former U.S. Secretary of Labor under Barack Obama
Deputy Chair: Keith Ellison, U.S. Representative from Minnesota's 5th congressional district
Vice Chair of Civic Engagement and Voter Participation: Karen Carter Peterson
Michael Blake, New York Assemblyman
Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary–Treasurer of the AFL-CIO
Ken Martin, Chair of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party
Grace Meng, U.S. Representative from New York's 6th congressional district
Treasurer: Bill Derrough
Secretary: Jason Rae
Finance Chair: Henry Muñoz III
In addition, a National Advisory Board exists for purposes of fundraising and advising the executive. The present chair is Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, former U.S. Ambassador to Portugal.
The Chinagate was an alleged effort by the People's Republic of China to influence domestic American politics prior to and during the Clinton administration and also involved the fund-raising practices of the administration itself.
In 2002, the Federal Election Commission fined the Democratic National Committee $115,000 for its part in fundraising violations in 1996.
Cyber attacks and hacks were claimed by or attributed to various individual and groups such as:According to committee officials and security experts, two competing Russian intelligence services were discovered on D.N.C. computer networks sometime in May 2016. One intelligence service achieved infiltration beginning in the summer of 2015 and the other service breached and roamed the network beginning in April 2016. The two groups accessed emails, chats and research on an opposing presidential candidate. They were expelled from the D.N.C. system in June 2016.
The hacker Guccifer 2.0 claimed that he hacked into the Democratic National Committee computer network and then leaked its emails to both the newspaper The Hill and the whistleblowing website Wikileaks. "Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, cited experts saying that the DNC emails were leaked by the Russians." The press and cybersecurity firms discredited the Guccifer 2.0 claim, as investigators now believe Guccifer 2.0 was an agent of the G.R.U., Russia’s military intelligence service."
It should be noted, however, that the credibility of the information released by Wikileaks has not been questioned. In fact, 4 highly placed members of the DNC, including Debbie Wasserman Schultz, were forced to resign as a result of this information. And Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, categorically denied links between the Russian government and the hacked documents his organization released during the 2016 presidential campaign. While claims have been made about Russia there has been no conclusive proof.
On July 22, 2016 Wikileaks released approximately 20,000 DNC emails. Critics claimed that the Committee unequally favored Hillary Clinton and acted in support of her nomination while opposing the candidacy of her primary challenger Bernie Sanders. The leaked emails spanned sixteen months, terminating in May 2016. The hack was claimed by the hacker Guccifer 2.0, but several cybersecurity firms believe this assertion is false.
In the wake of the WikiLeaks releases, the exposure of many embarrassing emails, relationships and policies resulted in the rapid resignations of Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Communications Director Luis Miranda, Chief Financial Officer Brad Marshall and Chief Executive Amy Dacey.