Yes, the conspiracy theories are ramping up: But this was an unforced error on the part of the Sanders campaign, and it's a serious one. Because it cost them access to their database on the heels of a massive donation surge -- and the weekend of the Democratic debate.
This is exactly the sort of frat-boy stunt that happens all the time on campaigns. (It's why I don't work campaigns anymore, I can't stand it.) It's a war atmosphere, and rule-breaking invariably happens. Because it's fun! Because a herd mentality takes over, and oops, there you go.
Your value as a staffer often depends on your ability to take advantage of these little opportunities.
Until he was fired, Josh Uretsky was a senior staffer. He played a similar role in the Obama campaign. He had to know what he was doing.
Can we not even pretend that if the Clinton campaign had done the same thing, this wouldn't be a major scandal?
It wasn't just Uretsky, either. If things happened in the innocent way he describes, how did all these other staffers get involved? There three or four more people involved, which tells me it was likely to be: "Hey, we need to look at all this and take notes!" They can't un-know what they know, and the Sanders campaign now has an unfair advantage.
Now they're going to pay for it.
Personally, I think the DNC should restore the campaign's access to the database -- just as soon as the rest of the staffers who took part are fired.
Most important, they should audit the Clinton and O'Malley campaigns to see if they did the same thing.
UPDATE: Only the Sanders campaign breached the data, according to the vendor:
As soon as we realized that there was an issue, we immediately mobilized our engineers to investigate the source of the issue. While we investigated the issue, we restricted access to affected areas of the VAN product for all users and limited access to data exports. Engineers quickly discovered the problem, and developed a fix.
We immediately began an audit to determine if any users had intentionally or unintentionally gained access to data they normally would not have access to within the limited timeframe when the bug was live. Our team removed access to the affected data, and determined that only one campaign took actions that could possibly have led to it retaining data to which it should not have had access.
We are honored to work with the DNC, the Clinton campaign, and the Sanders campaign. At the request of the DNC on Thursday, Sanders campaign access was suspended pending the campaign reporting on its access of the data; NGP VAN played no role in making that decision, and contractually could not. Again, this bug was a brief isolated issue, and we are not aware of any previous reports of such data being inappropriately available. We look forward to supporting all our Democratic clients, and in particular apologize to the DNC, Clinton and Sanders campaigns for our bug Wednesday. We will continue to work with and report to the DNC regarding this issue to ensure that this isolated incident does not recur. We have and will do better.
UPDATE: No way of knowing if this is true, but we should know soon enough.
DNC Chair DWS tells @tamronhall that the allegation is the Sanders staffer accessed Clinton voter-file info, exported it, and downloaded it
— Mark Murray (@mmurraypolitics) December 18, 2015
YET ANOTHER UPDATE:
Sanders campaign saved Clinton lists including "HFA Support" & "HFA Turnout" in various age ranges for key states https://t.co/SS6jyn6eHp
— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) December 18, 2015