WASHINGTON — The Democratic National Committee struck a deal with Hillary Clinton in 2015 that gave her campaign input on some party hiring and spending decisions, but required they be related only to preparations for the general election, according to a memo obtained by NBC News. It also left the door open for other candidates to make similar arrangements.
The document provides more context to the explosive claims made by former DNC Interim Chair Donna Brazile in a forthcoming book, an excerpt of which was published this week.
The August 26, 2015, memorandum of understanding from Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook to DNC CEO Amy Dacey details the relationship between Clinton's campaign and the DNC long before she won her party's nomination.
In exchange for Hillary for America's (HFA) helping the cash-strapped DNC raise money, the party committee agreed "that HFA personnel will be consulted and have joint authority over strategic decisions over the staffing, budget, expenditures, and general election related communications, data, technology, analytics, and research."
Specifically, the DNC agreed to hire a communications director from "one of two candidates previously identified as acceptable to HFA." More broadly, the DNC maintained "the authority to make the final decision" on senior staff in the communications, technology and research departments, but agreed that the party organization would choose only "between candidates acceptable to HFA."
The memo stipulates the DNC had to hire a communications director by September 11, 2015, months before the first nominating contests in early 2016.
However, the memo also made clear that the arrangement pertained to only the general election, not the primary season, and it left open the possibility that it would sign similar agreements with other candidates.
Still, it clearly allowed the Clinton campaign to influence DNC decisions made during an active primary, even if intended for preparations later.
"Nothing in this agreement shall be construed to violate the DNC's obligation of impartiality and neutrality through the Nominating process. All activities performed under this agreement will be focused exclusively on preparations for the General Election and not the Democratic Primary," the memo states.
"Further we understand you may enter into similar agreements with other candidates," it continues.
The Clinton campaign agreed to make an initial payment of $1.2 million to DNC, which was crippled by debt at the time, as well as providing a monthly allowance and other funds. The agreement appears intended to give the campaign oversight over how its money was spent.
The agreement supplemented a separate Clinton-DNC standard joint fundraising agreement, which was first reported over a year and a half ago, but gained new attention this week with Brazile’s book.
In an excerpt of her book, "Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House," published this week in Politico, Brazile wrote she was stunned to find out about the agreement, which she called a "cancer" on the party and claimed led the DNC to treat Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., unfairly during the primaries.
The Sanders' campaign later signed its own joint fundraising agreement with the DNC, but did not utilize it.