Sen. Bernard Sanders' presidential campaign on Friday filed suit against the Democratic National Committee after its access to DNC voter files was suspended because a Sanders campaign staffer accessed files from Hillary Clinton's campaign.
At a news conference on Friday, Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said the staffer was fired and said they were not aware of any data being exported.
"This is taking our campaign hostage," Weaver said. "It's clear they are trying to help the Clinton campaign."
The data breach gave Sanders' campaign access to names and contact information for voters the Clinton campaign is targeting. The DNC said a software error allowed the Sanders campaign to access the Clinton information.
The DNC is denying the Sanders campaign access to its voter database.
Sanders' lawsuit said voter data is critical to the campaign "but it is especially critical to the Campaign, which has been financed primarily with contributions from individual donors rather than Political Action Committees (“PACs”)."
"The DNC did not send the Campaign any written notice of termination, much less afford the Campaign the contractually required ten-day period in which to cure any default," the lawsuit said.
The suspension came a day ahead of the third Democratic presidential primary debate in New Hampshire.
In a Clinton campaign conference call on Friday evening, campaign manager Robby Mook called the breach unacceptable and violation of the law.
"This is incredibly disappointing," Mook said. "This is somebody who said they were going to run a different kind of campaign. The situation is very distressing and we want it remedied right away."
Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said there was a misperception that the DNC's suspension was "punishment" for the Sanders campaign.
"It is a temporary measure until they can confirm that they are not still in possession," Fallon said.
In the meantime, outside groups that support Sanders are also considering ways to aid his campaign. National Nurses United, a union that endorsed Sanders, announced it would be protesting outside the Florida district office of DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.
"That was spontaneous by the way," said RoseAnn DeMoro, director of National Nurses United, adding that the union has been canvassing and phone banking for Sanders and will continue to support him and that they will be canvassing in New Hampshire for the debate. "We were doing everything we could," she said.
Neil Sroka, spokesman for Democracy for America, which endorsed Sanders Thursday, said his organization is looking into ways it can help Sanders, including possibly buying access to a database from NGP VAN, which sells voter information to Democratic and progressive campaigns and selling it to the Sanders campaign.
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