Late update: Sen. Sanders responded to the complaint filed by the Nevada Dems in a statement Tuesday that downplayed the reports of violence while accusing the state party of not operating transparently.
After a chaotic state convention in Nevada during which Bernie Sanders supporters interrupted and even threatened Dem officials over byzantine delegation rules, the state Democratic Party warned the Democratic National Committee of the potential for similar trouble at the national convention in July.
Nevada State Democratic Party general counsel Bradley S. Schrager filed a complaint Monday afternoon with the national party’s rules and bylaws committee. The complaint, via Ralston Reports, accused the Sanders campaign of “either ignoring or profiting from the chaos it did much to create and nothing to diminish or mitigate.” It said the efforts that Sanders representatives did make to calm the ruckus were merely “token gestures.”
“We believe, unfortunately, that the tactics and behavior on display here in Nevada are harbingers of things to come as Democrats gather in Philadelphia in July for our National Convention,” the complaint said.
The complaint details the scene during last weekend’s state convention at Las Vegas’s Paris Hotel and Casino, where Sanders voters rebelled against everything from the voting on the state platform to the codifying of the states’ delegates, in incidents that were also reported on by local outlets. Since the convention, state party chair Roberta Lange has reportedly continued to receive death threats over the phone and via texts after a Sanders activist posted her personal contact information online. A sampling of voicemails Lange has been receiving posted by Ralston Reports include threats that she “should be hung in a public execution” and that she should “pack your bags right now because the shit storm you’ve ensued is coming.”
The Nevada Dems’ complaint, meanwhile, included texts sent to Lange telling her to “Prepare for hell” because “We know where you live,” “Where you work,” “Where you eat,” “Where your kids go to school/ grandkids.”
It is not uncommon for state party conventions to get rowdy over parliamentarian mechanics and — in a primary cycle dominated by delegate obsession and populist anger on both sides — it was expected that Nevada’s convention could get a little testy. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Sanders even issued a unity statement Friday evening, where Sanders encouraged, “[w]orking together respectfully and constructively on Saturday at the Nevada Democratic convention.”
But the atmosphere was tense at the Paris Hotel, particularly after a judge Friday tossed out a lawsuit filed by Sanders supporters challenging a party decision that blocked them for running for party office.
According to the Las Vegas Sun, there were two major flash points on Saturday: First when Lange called votes on the state party’s platform and a preliminary delegate list; and later in the day, when a formal delegate count was announced showing Clinton was in the lead.
Over the course of the day, party officials were called crude names by the crowd, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) was booed off the stage and medics had to be called repeatedly after attendees were roughed up against the dais. Hotel officials told the event organizers at 10 p.m. the convention would need to be cleared out because they could no longer provide security, prompting Sanders supporters to throw chairs and storm the stage, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
Their anger was fueled by allegations that the state party’s rules — among the most complicated in the country — had been rigged against the Democratic socialist. Clinton had won the state caucus in February, while the Sanders camp had effectively mobilized around the local conventions that chose the delegates that attend the state confab. Nevertheless, Clinton appeared to have a lead in delegates coming out of the state convention, a lead her rival’s supporters blamed on a decision not to credential 60 or so Sanders delegates for the convention. (Nevermind that the decision was made by a party panel split evenly between Sanders- and Clinton-backers — who said many of those delegates had failed to register for the Democratic Party on time — or that some Clinton delegates were also not credentialed for similar reasons.)
The state Democratic Party has since taken to Medium to defend its delegate allocation process, while the Sanders camp has only tepidly condemned the threats and violence.
“We do not condone violence or encourage violence or even threats of violence,” campaign spokesman Michael Briggs told the AP, adding that the campaign “had no role in encouraging the activity that the party is complaining about. We have a First Amendment and respect the rights of the people to make their voices heard.”
Briggs did not respond to TPM’s request for comment.
Update: DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) issued a statement Tuesday afternoon in response to the Nevada Dems’ letter:
“We are deeply concerned about the troubling details laid out in the letter from the Nevada Democratic Party. We will be reaching out to the leadership of both of our campaigns to ask them to stand with the Democratic Party in denouncing and taking steps to prevent the type of behavior on display over the weekend in Las Vegas,” she said. “Our democracy is undermined any time threats, intimidation, physical violence or damage to property are present. If there are legitimate concerns, they must be addressed in an orderly, civil and peaceful manner.”
Read the state party letter below: