Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Tuesday downplayed reports that his supporters caused a ruckus at this weekend’s Nevada Democratic Party’s convention in a statement released by his campaign, and also appeared to issue an ultimatum to the Democratic Party.
“Within the last few days there have been a number of criticisms made against my campaign organization. Party leaders in Nevada, for example, claim that the Sanders campaign has a ‘penchant for violence.’ That is nonsense,” Sanders said. “Our campaign has held giant rallies all across this country, including in high-crime areas, and there have been zero reports of violence. Our campaign of course believes in non-violent change and it goes without saying that I condemn any and all forms of violence, including the personal harassment of individuals.”
His statement came in response to a complaint filed Monday by the Nevada Democratic Party with the national party’s rules and bylaws committee. The complaint accused the Sanders campaign of “either ignoring or profiting from the chaos it did much to create and nothing to diminish or mitigate” during the convention proceedings.
Local outlets had reported that the crowd heckled party officials and Democratic lawmakers throughout the day, and the evening ended with Sanders supporters throwing chairs and storming the stage when hotel officials told event organizers that they needed to clear out the convention.
Roberta Lange, the state party chair, reportedly has since received threatening voice messages and texts, from Sanders supporters angry with how she handled the convention.
Sanders’ statement, however, gave little in the vein of an apology for the alleged threats or the chaos. Instead, he zeroed in what he called an attempt by the state party leadership to use “its power to prevent a fair and transparent process from taking place.”
The chaos at Saturday’s convention at Las Vegas’s Paris Hotel and Casino was inflamed by Sanders activists’ accusations that the Nevada Dems’ allocation of delegates had been rigged against him. Sanders’ statement repeated those claims, pointing to a state party decision not to credential about 60 Sanders delegates who officials said didn’t meet the necessary requirements.
“That decision enabled the Clinton campaign to end up with a 30-vote majority,” Sanders said in the statement.
While former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the Nevada caucuses in February, the Sanders campaign hoped to pick up more delegates at local conventions prior to the state party gathering.
The dust-up comes as Democrats were hoping the party would begin to unify around Clinton as the race pivots toward the general election contest against presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.
Sanders’ statement made clear he had no intention of going quietly into the night, however.
“If the Democratic Party is to be successful in November, it is imperative that all state parties treat our campaign supporters with fairness and the respect that they have earned,” he said.