Dems in Disarray: Vulnerable Members Slam DCCC Chair's 'Vanity Project'

Sean Patrick Maloney's 'leadership' marks 'real f—ing problem' for party in 2022, House Dems say

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D., N.Y.) / edited from Getty Images
December 17, 2021

Vulnerable House Democrats on Friday torched Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Sean Patrick Maloney, accusing the so-called leader of running the group as a "vanity project" to raise "his own profile."

Six members in battleground districts spoke with Politico to slam Maloney, who took over as head of House Democrats' campaign arm in 2021. According to the members, Maloney is "pushing the wrong strategy" and employing "botched messaging" by focusing on former president Donald Trump instead of the kitchen-table issues that resonate with voters. One House Democrat went as far as to say that Maloney's performance as chairman marks a "real fucking problem" for the party in 2022.

"I think Sean Patrick's 'leadership'—and please use air quotes on that—at the DCCC is the reason why we should not have elected colleagues running that organization," one member said. "Because it's not about protecting the majority; it's about Sean Patrick Maloney. … We've got a vanity project."

While Maloney is supposed to protect and support vulnerable members as DCCC chairman, the New York Democrat has instead clashed with them throughout his tenure. In November, he rebuked Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D., Va.) after the congresswoman criticized President Joe Biden's agenda as overreaching and out of touch. Maloney's decision to side with the president over a vulnerable incumbent came after Democrats suffered a string of shocking losses in Virginia, a state that Biden won by double digits in 2020.

Just months earlier, multiple centrist House Democrats accused Maloney of threatening to cut off financial support for their campaigns if they failed to back Biden's then-$3.5 trillion social spending bill. Maloney's staff also greenlit $5,000 wire transfers from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) to some vulnerable members, some of whom returned the money over fear of being associated with the socialist congresswoman.

"What's problematic is not only is he pushing the wrong strategy. … The biggest problem is that he's attacking front-line members for taking a different perspective," another Democratic lawmaker told Politico. "If you want to win purple and red seats, you have to distance yourself from other Democrats. He is a part of this 'party purity' march that is just going to ensure that we are DEEP in the minority."

In addition to his quarrels with fellow House Democrats, Maloney has committed multiple blunders unrelated to his role as DCCC chairman. In April, Business Insider reported that Maloney failed to disclose more than $11,000 in stock trades stemming from 2020. And in August, Maloney defied State Department guidelines to party maskless at a billionaire's estate in France. The DCCC paid $813 for an Air France plane ticket weeks before the trip.