The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is the formal governing body for the United States Democratic Party. The committee coordinates strategy to support Democratic Party candidates throughout the country for local, state, and national office. It organizes the Democratic National Convention held every four years to nominate and confirm a candidate for president, and to formulate the party platform. While it provides support for party candidates, it does not have direct authority over elected officials.
The DNC is composed of the chairs and vice-chairs of each state Democratic Party committee and more than 200 members elected by Democrats in all 50 states and the territories. Its chair is elected by the committee. It conducts fundraising to support its activities.
The DNC is responsible for articulating and promoting the Democratic platform and coordinating party organizational activity. When the president is a Democrat, the party generally works closely with the president. In presidential elections it supervises the national convention and, both independently and in coordination with the presidential candidate, raises funds, commissions polls, and coordinates campaign strategy. Following the selection of a party nominee, the public funding laws permit the national party to coordinate certain expenditures with the nominee, but additional funds are spent on general, party-building activities. There are state committees in every state, as well as local committees in most cities, wards, and towns (and, in most states, counties).
The chairperson of the DNC is elected by vote of members of the Democratic National Committee. The DNC is composed of the chairs and vice-chairs of each state Democratic Party's central committee, two hundred members apportioned among the states based on population and generally elected either on the ballot by primary voters or by the state Democratic Party committee, a number of elected officials serving in an ex officio capacity, and a variety of representatives of major Democratic Party constituencies.
The DNC establishes rules for the caucuses and primaries which choose delegates to the Democratic National Convention, but the caucuses and primaries themselves are most often run not by the DNC but instead by each individual state. Primary elections, in particular, are invariably conducted by state governments according to their own laws. Political parties may choose to participate or not participate in a state's primary election, but no political party executives have any jurisdiction over the dates of primary elections, or how they are conducted.
Outside of the process of nominating a presidential candidate, the DNC's role in actually selecting candidates to run on the party ticket is minimal.
All DNC members are superdelegates to the Democratic National Convention whose role can influence a close primary race. These delegates, officially described as "unpledged party leader and elected official delegates," fall into three categories based on other positions they hold:
In the 2002 election cycle, the DNC and its affiliated committees (which include numerous local committees and committees formed to coordinate expenditures for specific districts or races) raised a total of US $162,062,084, 42% of which was hard money. The largest contributor, with US $7,297,937 was the Saban Capital Group, founded in 2001 by Haim Saban. Fred Eychaner, the owner of Newsweb Corporation, gave the second highest amount of money to the DNC and its affiliates, US $5,175,000. The third largest contributor was Steve Bing of Shangri-La Entertainment, who gave US $4,758,000.
In the 2006 election cycle, the DNC raised a total of US $37,939,887. The three largest contributors were investment bank Goldman Sachs (US $225,600). University of California (US $121,980) and Pond North LLP (US $109,296).
The DNC introduced a small-donor fund raising campaign, the Democracy Bonds program, set up by Howard Dean in the summer of 2005. There were only 31,000 Democracy Bond donors by May 2006, off-pace from the goal of 1 million donors by 2008. The program no longer is in place.
In the 2016 election cycle, the DNC raised a total of US $75,945,536 as of July 21, 2016. The three largest contributors were hedge fund Renaissance Technologies (US $677,850), Newsweb Corp (US $334,000) and Total Wine (US $298,100).
In June 2008, after Senator Barack Obama became the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Dean announced that the DNC, emulating the Obama campaign, would no longer accept donations from federal lobbyists. In July 2015, during the 2016 election cycle, the DNC, led by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, reversed this policy.
In addition, a National Advisory Board exists for purposes of fundraising and advising the executive. The present chair is Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, former U.S. Ambassador to Portugal.
|Benjamin F. Hallett||1848–1852||Massachusetts|
|Robert Milligan McLane||1852–1856||Maryland|
|David Allen Smalley||1856–1860||Vermont|
|August Belmont||1860–1872||New York|
|Augustus Schell||1872–1876||New York|
|Abram Stevens Hewitt||1876–1877||New York|
|William H. Barnum||1877–1889||Connecticut|
|Calvin Stewart Brice||1889–1892||Ohio|
|William F. Harrity||1892–1896||Pennsylvania|
|James K. Jones||1896–1904||Arkansas|
|Norman E. Mack||1908–1912||New York|
|William F. McCombs||1912–1916||New York|
|Vance C. McCormick||1916–1919||Pennsylvania|
|Homer S. Cummings||1919–1920||Connecticut|
|Clem L. Shaver||1924–1928||West Virginia|
|John J. Raskob||1928–1932||New York|
|James A. Farley||1932–1940||New York|
|Edward J. Flynn||1940–1943||New York|
|Frank C. Walker||1943–1944||Pennsylvania|
|Robert E. Hannegan||1944–1947||Missouri|
|J. Howard McGrath||1947–1949||Rhode Island|
|William M. Boyle||1949–1951||Missouri|
|Frank E. McKinney||1951–1952||Indiana|
|Paul M. Butler||1955–1960||Indiana|
|Henry M. Jackson||1960–1961||Washington|
|John Moran Bailey||1961–1968||Connecticut|
|Fred R. Harris||1969–1970||Oklahoma|
|Robert S. Strauss||1972–1977||Texas|
|Kenneth M. Curtis||1977–1978||Maine|
|John C. White||1978–1981||Texas|
|Paul G. Kirk||1985–1989||Massachusetts|
|Ron Brown||1989–1993||New York|
|Debbie Wasserman Schultz||2011–2016||Florida|
|1 — General Chair, served concurrently with National Chair (1995–2001)
2 — Interim Chair
|Susan W. Turnbull||2003–2005||Maryland|
The Chinagate was an alleged effort by the People's Republic of China to influence domestic American politics prior to and during the Clinton administration and also involved the fund-raising practices of the administration itself.
On July 22, 2016 Wikileaks released approximately 20,000 DNC emails. Critics claimed that the Committee unequally favored Hillary Clinton and acted in support of her nomination while opposing the candidacy of her primary challenger Bernie Sanders. Donna Brazile corroborated these allegations in an excerpt of her book published by Politico in November 2017, and also claimed that the Clinton campaign bought control of the DNC. The leaked emails spanned sixteen months, terminating in May 2016. The hack was claimed by the hacker Guccifer 2.0, but several cybersecurity firms believe this assertion is false.
The WikiLeaks releases led to the resignations of Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Communications Director Luis Miranda, Chief Financial Officer Brad Marshall and Chief Executive Amy Dacey.
The Democratic Party's national committee has existed since 1848. During the 1848 Democratic National Convention, a resolution was passed creating the Democratic National Committee, composed of thirty members, one person per state, chosen by the states' delegations, and chaired by Benjamin F. Hallett.
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