Politics

Leaked DCCC Memo Offers Window into Committee's Candidate Research

Among the leaked documents was an internal memo on Florida's 18th District

The hack into the DCCC exposed an internal memo on Florida's 18th District, where the committee is backing Democrat Randy Perkins. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A list of House Democrats' phone numbers wasn't the only information made public this weekend from a cyber hack into the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee first reported in July.

The leak also included a DCCC internal memo — "a campaign overview" — on Florida's 18th District from April. The document provides a window into the kind of research campaign committees regularly conduct on candidates, their strengths and weaknesses. 

[House Democrats Briefed on 'Electronic Watergate']

Democrat Rep. Patrick Murphy is vacating the 18th District to run for Senate. It's a tossup seat, but first both parties have to select their nominees in primaries on Aug. 30.  

The memo begins by presenting brief, objective biographies of the two Democrats running to replace Murphy, attorney Jonathan Chane and Randy Perkins, the CEO of a disaster recovery company called AshBritt. It also presents the qualifications of six Republicans.

[DCCC Hacked in Series of Cyberattacks Against Democratic Groups]

It's well known that Perkins, a self-funder, is the DCCC's pick in the Democratic primary. He's on the committee's Red to Blue list. Chane is not. 

The DCCC lays out the message for the Perkins campaign.

"In the year of outsiders, Perkins will be able to communicate his 'rags to riches' story and background as successful small business owner and family man," the memo says. 

"Perkins has spent his career being a problem-solving businessman and his contribution and work history show his willingness to work with Democrats and Republicans to bridge the partisan divide in Congress," it continues.

But the committee acknowledges that Perkins' past contributions to Republicans, as well as his recent registration as a Democrat, will be a vulnerability in the primary. His Democratic primary opponent has been launching both of those attacks.

[Now a Democrat, Once a Republican?]

Perkins' general election vulnerabilities mostly stem from the business dealings of AshBritt, his disaster recovery company, which has been "accused of doing substandard work" and has cheated the Broward County school board out of nearly $1 million, the memo says. Perkins, himself, "has been sued by contractors for non-payment," the memo notes.

The memo, which is now four months old, also notes that Perkins' campaign has "displayed a tendency to spend wastefully and to make sometimes erratic decisions." 

The DCCC expresses concern in the memo that if the GOP nominee is Brian Mast, an Army veteran who lost both legs fighting in Afghanistan, Perkins "will be vulnerable to character attacks and will likely see a lot of outside spending."

While one of Perkins' strengths in the eyes of the DCCC is his ability self-fund, the memo notes that Perkins — whom it calls "Randy" — has said he won't spend more than $5 million of his own money.

By the end of the second quarter, Perkins had loaned $1 million and contributed another $2 million of his own money to his campaign. His campaign had spent $1.6 million from the beginning of the campaign to June 30.

The DCCC also identifies Chane's primary vulnerabilities. 

"When the housing crisis hit Florida in 2008, Chane made money as a foreclosure attorney for 13 different banks where he sued dozens of Palm Beach residents, forcing them out of their homes," the memo says.

"As an attorney, Chane defended a big tobacco company that was found guilty of lying to Florida families about the dangers of smoking, and Chane fought to keep the victims from getting money they had been awarded by the courts in previous lawsuits," the memo says.

The remainder of the memo is a list of hits on the GOP candidates and links to press coverage on those issues.

The leaked DCCC documents also included a fundraising memo to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi about Colorado's 6th District, where state Sen. Morgan Carroll is challenging GOP Rep. Mike Coffman. 

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