Claims that Democratic Party leaders conspired to squash the presidential primary campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders have not only led to a party shake-up but have sparked class-action litigation. A trove of hacked party emails posted by WikiLeaks show that Democratic National Committee officials had worked to undermine the underdog campaign of Mr. Sanders. Weeks before the firestorm erupted, culminating in the resignation of party chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a group of plaintiffs brought a lawsuit in federal court alleging that DNC “actively concealed its bias” from its donors and Democrats backing Mr. Sanders. The plaintiffs, about 150 of whom are identified in the lawsuit, are mostly Sanders supporters and include a number of DNC donors.
“[T]he DNC was biased in favor of one candidate – Hillary Clinton – from the beginning and throughout the process,” the plaintiffs state in their complaint, which seeks class-action status. “[I]n spite of the [DNC’s] governing Charter and its multiple public statements, the DNC devoted its resources to propelling Clinton’s candidacy ahead of all of her rivals, even if this meant working directly against the interests of Democratic Party members, including Bernie Sanders’ supporters.”
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Miami in late June, alleges fraud and negligent misrepresentation. It also claims negligence related to allegations of a data breach by Russian hackers.
Lawyers representing the DNC and Ms. Schultz have sought to dismiss the lawsuit for procedural reasons. In court papers filed Friday, they stated that the complaint was never properly served on the defendants. DNC lawyers also said plaintiffs have “fail[ed] to identify any discernable legal theory pursuant to which their allegations, even if proven, would be actionable.”