Democratic National Committee

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Democratic National Committee
Founded1848; 172 years ago (1848)[1][2]
430 South Capitol St SE,
Washington, D.C. 20003
Key people
  • Tom Perez
  • Chris Korge
    (Finance chair)
  • Michael Tyler

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is a corporation acting as the 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 of the United States, and to formulate the party platform. While it provides support for party candidates, it does not have direct authority over elected officials.[3]

Its chair is elected by the committee. It conducts fundraising to support its activities.[3]

The DNC was established at the 1848 Democratic National Convention.[1] The DNC's main counterpart is the Republican National Committee.

Campaign role[edit]

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.[4] 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.[5]:5 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.

Chicago delegation to the January 8, 1912 Democratic National Committee

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

All DNC members are superdelegates to the Democratic National Convention, whose role can take precedence over a close primary race. However, the methodology for this has been called into dispute in both the 2016 and 2020 primary races and concerns the question of candidates achieving a voter majority vs plurality. By virtue of remaining on the ballot, candidates may then likely impede party voters to realize a majority for any single candidate. This is how superdelegates currently function. These delegates, officially described as "unpledged party leader and elected official delegates," fall into three categories based on other positions they hold:[6]

  • elected members of the Democratic National Committee,
  • sitting Democratic governors and members of Congress, and
  • distinguished party leaders, consisting of current and former presidents, vice presidents, congressional leaders, and DNC chairs, are all superdelegates for life.

DNC fundraising[edit]

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.[7]

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).[8]

The DNC introduced a small-donor fund raising campaign, the Democracy Bonds program, set up by Howard Dean in the summer of 2005.[9] 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 is longer 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).[10]

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.[11] In July 2015, during the 2016 election cycle, the DNC, led by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, reversed this policy.[12]

Current leadership[edit]

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.

List of DNC Chairs[edit]

Officeholder Term State[20]
Benjamin Hallett 1848–1852 Massachusetts
Robert McLane 1852–1856 Maryland
David Smalley 1856–1860 Vermont
August Belmont 1860–1872 New York
Augustus Schell 1872–1876 New York
Abram Hewitt 1876–1877 New York
William Barnum 1877–1889 Connecticut
Calvin Brice 1889–1892 Ohio
William Harrity 1892–1896 Pennsylvania
James Jones 1896–1904 Arkansas
Thomas Taggart 1904–1908 Indiana
Norman Mack 1908–1912 New York
William McCombs 1912–1916 New York
Vance McCormick 1916–1919 Pennsylvania
Homer Cummings 1919–1920 Connecticut
George White 1920–1921 Ohio
Cordell Hull 1921–1924 Tennessee
Clem Shaver 1924–1928 West Virginia
John Raskob 1928–1932 New York
James Farley 1932–1940 New York
Edward Flynn 1940–1943 New York
Frank Walker 1943–1944 Pennsylvania
Robert Hannegan 1944–1947 Missouri
Howard McGrath 1947–1949 Rhode Island
William Boyle 1949–1951 Missouri
Frank McKinney 1951–1952 Indiana
Stephen Mitchell 1952–1955 Illinois
Paul Butler 1955–1960 Indiana
Scoop Jackson 1960–1961 Washington
John Bailey 1961–1968 Connecticut
Larry O'Brien 1968–1969 Massachusetts
Fred Harris 1969–1970 Oklahoma
Larry O'Brien 1970–1972 Massachusetts
Jean Westwood 1972 Utah
Bob Strauss 1972–1977 Texas
Kenneth Curtis 1977–1978 Maine
John White 1978–1981 Texas
Charles Manatt 1981–1985 California
Paul Kirk 1985–1989 Massachusetts
Ron Brown 1989–1993 New York
David Wilhelm 1993–1994 Ohio
Debra DeLee 1994–1995 Massachusetts
Chris Dodd (General Chair) 1995–1997 Connecticut
Don Fowler (National Chair) South Carolina
Roy Romer (General Chair) 1997–1999 Colorado
Steve Grossman (National Chair) Massachusetts
Ed Rendell (General Chair) 1999–2001 Pennsylvania
Joe Andrew (National Chair) Indiana
Terry McAuliffe 2001–2005 Virginia
Howard Dean 2005–2009 Vermont
Tim Kaine 2009–2011 Virginia
Donna Brazile (Acting) 2011 Louisiana
Debbie Wasserman Schultz 2011–2016 Florida
Donna Brazile (Acting) 2016–2017 Louisiana
Tom Perez 2017–present Maryland


List of DNC Deputy Chairs[edit]

The Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee was re-established by Tom Perez in February 2017 after the 2017 DNC Chair race, won by Perez.

After a close victory over Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, Perez appointed Ellison as Deputy Chair in an attempt to lessen the divide in the Democratic Party after the contentious 2016 Democratic presidential primaries, which saw conflicts between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.[21] Perez was seen as being more in line with the Clinton wing, while Ellison was more in line with the Sanders wing.[22] The role's revival in 2017 has been described by critics as largely titular and ceremonial.[23]

On November 8, 2018, Ellison resigned from the position due to his win in the Minnesota Attorney General election.[24] The position remains unoccupied.

Officeholder Term State
Ben Johnson[25] 2003–2005 Maryland
Mike Honda 2003–2005 California
Susan Turnbull 2003–2005 Maryland
Keith Ellison 2017–2018[26] Minnesota


Opposition to 2020 primary debate on climate change[edit]

In June 2019, DNC Chair Tom Perez responded to calls for the DNC to hold a presidential candidate debate devoted to climate change policy. In a statement published to his Medium page, he confirmed that there would be no such climate debate in the 2020 primary season as the debate guidelines had already been set and could not be adjusted mid-race without sacrificing fairness to the candidates.[27] Nevertheless, in January 2020 the DNC would go on to make immense adjustments to its debate guidelines by easing the grassroots donor requirement necessary to appear on the Nevada debate stage. Several candidates and their campaigns expressed concern that the new guidelines displayed overt favoritism by the DNC, as the changes were enacted to the sole benefit of Michael Bloomberg’s upstart candidacy and had not been adopted earlier in the race when other candidates such as Cory Booker had requested similar measures. Bloomberg had consistently failed to qualify for the debate stage under the previous guidelines.[28] In another departure from Perez’s June statement, as of August 2019, the DNC is no longer attempting to limit the candidates' participation in events such as a CNN town hall or an MSNBC forum on the topic.[29]

Watergate incident[edit]

In the 1970s, the DNC had its head office in the Watergate complex, which were burglarized by entities working for Richard Nixon's administration during the Watergate scandal.


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.[30][31]

In 2002, the Federal Election Commission fined the Democratic National Committee $115,000 for its part in fundraising violations in 1996.[32]

DNC hacking[edit]

Debbie Wasserman Schultz served as DNC chair from 2011 to 2016.

Cyber attacks and hacks were claimed by or attributed to various individual and groups such as:

  • According to committee officials and security experts, two competing Russian intelligence services were discovered on DNC computer networks sometime in May 2016. One intelligence service achieved infiltration beginning in the summer of 2015 and the other service breached and roamed the network beginning in April 2016. The two groups accessed emails, chats, and research on an opposing presidential candidate. They were expelled from the DNC system in June 2016.[33][34][35]
  • The hacker Guccifer 2.0 claimed that he hacked into the Democratic National Committee computer network and then leaked its emails to both the newspaper The Hill[36][37] and the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.[citation needed] During a CNN interview with Jake Tapper, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, Robby Mook, cited experts saying that the DNC emails were leaked by the Russians. When pressed to name the "experts," Mook declined to.[38][39] The press and cybersecurity firms discredited the Guccifer 2.0 claim, as investigators now believe Guccifer 2.0 was an agent of the G.R.U., Russia's military intelligence service."[33][35][40][41]

Coordination with 2016 Clinton primary campaign[edit]

On July 22, 2016, WikiLeaks released approximately 20,000 DNC emails.[42] 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.[43] The leaked emails spanned sixteen months, terminating in May 2016.[44] The hack was claimed by Guccifer 2.0, but several cybersecurity firms believe this assertion is false, instead alleging that the hacks were perpetrated by Russia, as mentioned above.[45]

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.[46] After she resigned, Wasserman-Schultz put out a statement about possible FBI assistance in investigating the hacking and leaks, claiming "the DNC was never contacted by the FBI or any other agency concerned about these intrusions."[47] During a Senate hearing in January 2017, James Comey testified that the FBI requested access to the DNC's servers, but were denied. He also testified that old versions of the Republican National Committee's servers were breached, but then-current databases were unaffected.[48]

The DNC subsequently filed a lawsuit in federal court against WikiLeaks and others alleging a conspiracy to influence the election.[49]


The Democratic Party's national committee has existed since 1848.[50] 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.[51]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Party History. Retrieved February 17, 2007. Archived November 4, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Smith, Melissa M.; Williams, Glenda C.; Powell, Larry; Copeland, Gary A. (2010). Campaign Finance Reform: The Political Shell Game. Lexington Books. p. 14. ISBN 9780739145678. Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "". DNC. Archived from the original on June 17, 2017. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
  4. ^ "Public Funding of Presidential Elections". Federal Election Commission. February 2005. Retrieved October 29, 2006.
  5. ^ DNC 2018 Charter
  6. ^ "Delegate Selection Materials For the 2016 Democratic National Convention" (PDF). December 15, 2014. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  7. ^ "Top Contributors 2002 Election Cycle DNC: OpenSecrets". Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  8. ^ "Top Contributors DNC 2006 Cycle". Center for Responsive Politics. June 17, 2013. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  9. ^ 2006 Democracy Bonds. Retrieved on August 2, 2007. Archived August 13, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Top Contributors DNC 2016 Election". Center for Responsive Politics. July 21, 2016. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  11. ^ Rhee, Foon (June 5, 2008). "DNC bars Washington lobbyist money". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on July 15, 2008.
  12. ^ Smilowitz, Elliot (July 24, 2015). "DNC to allow lobbyist money to fund conventions". The Hill. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  13. ^ David Weigel (February 25, 2017). "Thomas Perez elected the first Latino leader of Democratic Party". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 25, 2017.
  14. ^ a b c Tani, Maxwell (April 19, 2017). "DNC rolls out new jobs for top brass, including Keith Ellison's newly created position". Business Insider. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  15. ^ a b Democratic National Committee (January 22, 2013). "Democratic National Committee Elects New Officers at Meeting in Washington Today". Archived from the original on February 2, 2013. Retrieved January 25, 2013.
  16. ^ "Democratic Party on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  17. ^ "Rep. Grace Meng Elected DNC Vice Chairwoman". Roll Call. July 29, 2016. Retrieved July 29, 2016.
  18. ^ "Democratic Party on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
  19. ^ "Democratic Party on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
  20. ^ Lawrence Kestenbaum. "A Database of Historic Cemeteries". The Political Graveyard web site. Retrieved December 29, 2010.
  21. ^ Bradner, Eric (February 26, 2017). "Perez wins DNC chairmanship". CNN. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  22. ^ Chang, Clio (February 23, 2017). "The Case for Tom Perez Makes No Sense". The New Republic. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
  23. ^ Evans, Lauren (February 25, 2017). "Tom Perez Elected to Head DNC, Edging Out Keith Ellison". Jezebel. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
  24. ^ Lim, Naomi (November 9, 2018). "Keith Ellison resigns from DNC post". Washington Examiner. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  25. ^ "Ben Johnson | The HistoryMakers". The History Makers. Retrieved March 20, 2017.
  26. ^ "DNC's second in command steps down after winning attorney general race in Minnesota". USA Today. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  27. ^ Perez, Tom (June 11, 2019). "Climate Change and the 2020 Debates". Medium.
  28. ^ Epstein, Reid; Stevens, Matt (Jan 31, 2020; updated Feb 7, 2020). "D.N.C. Rules Change for Nevada Debate Could Open Door for Bloomberg". The New York Times. Retrieved Feb 18, 2020. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  29. ^ Morin, Rebecca (July 25, 2019). "CNN to host climate change town hall with Democratic 2020 candidates". USA Today. Retrieved August 13, 2019.
  30. ^ "Fund-raiser Charlie Trie pleads guilty under plea agreement". CNN. May 21, 1999. Archived from the original on August 5, 2006.
  31. ^ "Chinagate and the Clintons". The American Spectator. October 6, 2016.
  32. ^ "DNC fined for illegal 1996 fund raising". CNN. September 23, 2002. Archived from the original on May 14, 2008.
  33. ^ a b Nakashima, Ellem (June 14, 2016). "Russian government hackers penetrated DNC, stole opposition research on Trump". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  34. ^ "'Lone Hacker' Claims Responsibility for Cyber Attack on Democrats". NBC News. June 16, 2016. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  35. ^ a b Sanger, David E.; Corasaniti, Rick (June 14, 2016). "D.N.C. Says Russian Hackers Penetrated Its Files, Including Dossier on Donald Trump". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  36. ^ Uchill, Joe (July 13, 2016). "Guccifer 2.0 releases new DNC docs". The Hill. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  37. ^ Joe, Uchill (July 18, 2016). "New Guccifer 2.0 dump highlights 'wobbly Dems' on Iran deal". The Hill. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  38. ^ Bump, Philip (March 5, 2018). "The Russian interference fight was encapsulated in one CNN show in July 2016". Washington Post. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  39. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: WikiLeaks' Julian Assange on Releasing DNC Emails That Ousted Debbie Wasserman Schultz". Democracy Now!. July 25, 2016. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  40. ^ Alperovitch, Dmitri (June 15, 2016). "Bears in the Midst: Intrusion into the Democratic National Committee". From The Front Lines. CrowdStrike, Inc. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  41. ^ Sanger, David E.; Schmitt, Eric (July 26, 2016). "Spy Agency Consensus Grows That Russia Hacked D.N.C." The New York Times. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  42. ^ "WikiLeaks - Search the DNC email database". WikiLeaks. July 22, 2016. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  43. ^ Brazile, Donna (November 2, 2017). "Inside Hillary Clinton's Secret Takeover of the DNC". Politico. Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  44. ^ Uchill, Joe (July 22, 2016). "WikiLeaks posts 20,000 DNC emails". The Hill. Retrieved July 23, 2016.
  45. ^ "Guccifer 2.0 Claims Responsibility for WikiLeaks DNC Email Dump". Motherboard Vice. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  46. ^ Phillip, Abby; Zezima, Katie (August 2, 2016). "Top Democratic National Committee officials resign in wake of email breach". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
  47. ^ Wright, Austin (June 21, 2017). "Jeh Johnson: DNC did not want DHS help following election hack". Politico.
  48. ^ Schultheis, Emily (January 10, 2017). "FBI Director Comey: Agency requested access to DNC servers". CBS News.
  49. ^ Hamburger, Tom; Helderman, Rosalind S.; Nakashima, Ellen (April 20, 2017). "Democratic Party sues Russia, Trump campaign and WikiLeaks alleging 2016 campaign conspiracy". The Washington Post.
  50. ^ Macy, Jesse (1914). "Committees, Party". In McLaughlin, Andrew Cunningham; Bushnell Hart, Albert (eds.). Cyclopedia of American Government. 1. pp. 361–363.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  51. ^ Edwin Howe, Joseph (1919). The Democratic National Committee, 1830–1876 (Master's thesis). University of Wisconsin–Madison – via Google Books.


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