It’s likely that going into the Democratic National Convention in July, none of the presidential candidates will have the outright majority of pledged delegates needed to secure the nomination on the first ballot. If that’s the case, Democratic National Committee members and other unelected superdelegates will be allowed to vote on a second ballot to choose the nominee.
Despite the pivotal role the DNC is likely to play in selecting who runs against President Trump, there is little public knowledge of who runs the party and who the superdelegates are.
Sludge has reviewed a full list of 447 voting DNC members as of August 2019 to create the first public profile of the members and their potential conflicts of interest from their work outside of the party. In this article — the first in a series — we look at the members of the Executive Committee, the DNC’s top governing body.
The Executive Committee, led by DNC Chairman Tom Perez and nine party officers, appoints the co-chairs and the majority of members on the DNC’s four standing committees: Rules and Bylaws, Budget and Finance, Credentials, and Resolutions. The committee also would decide whether to advance any proposed rule changes from the Convention Rules Committee, such as changes to the superdelegate voting process, to the standing Rules and Bylaws Committee for final approval.
Of the 47 Executive Committee members and DNC officers, Sludge found that 17 have backgrounds in promoting corporate interests: 13 are currently registered lobbyists for for-profit companies, principals at consulting firms with corporate clients, or corporate lawyers; three were corporate lobbyists or corporate lawyers in the last six years, and one was a corporate lobbyist in the past.
Several of the members of the Executive Committee were appointed by Perez in an October 2017 purge after his narrow election as chair and his picks did not require approval from other DNC members before joining the committee. The committee, which is tasked with meeting the most frequently of DNC bodies at four times per year, is also required by the bylaws “to keep a record of its proceedings which shall be available to the public,” though no minutes are made available online by the DNC. Several DNC members told Sludge they do not receive prior consultation from the chair regarding the committee’s agendas and decision process.
The DNC does not make its membership available to the public; for this research, Sludge obtained a copy of the membership list from a DNC member. These lobbyists and consultants, as well as their corporate clients, stand to benefit from their power to decide which candidates the national party supports and, through their committee positions, how the DNC budget is allocated and which messages receive promotion.