After Making Bernie Sign Loyalty Pledge, DNC Hires Anti-Bernie Finance Chair

Former lobbyist Chris Korge, a Clinton bundler, brought in to head DNC fundraising team

DNC Chairman Tom Perez with Sen. Bernie Sanders / Getty Images
May 18, 2019

The decision by the Democratic National Committee to bring in a man who has questioned whether presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is "dangerous to the future of the Democratic Party" has some questioning whether the party will be able to maintain neutrality in 2020.

The DNC's new finance chair Chris Korge, a longtime Florida lobbyist, was a major supporter of failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016, and he has already given $2,700 this cycle to Kamala Harris's presidential campaign. On Twitter, he has made clear that he hasn't gotten over the party's struggle with Sanders in 2016, even retweeting a user urging him to stay out of the 2020 race, according to a Huffington Post report.

The DNC has vowed to keep its finger off the scales during the primary cycle, and Korge insists he'll be able to despite his stated personal views.

"I have worked tirelessly to help the Democratic Party, and have been proud to support a wide array of Democratic candidates," Korge said. "I’m fully committed to the DNC’s neutrality policy and I look forward to raising the funds necessary to help whoever our Democratic nominee is."

Not all are buying it. Larry Cohen, a union leader and Sanders supporter who is also a DNC member, told the Huffington Post, "The nomination of Chris to be finance chair is concerning. Before the election, I’m sure that we will profess total neutrality in terms of the nominating process and in some ways walk back the comments he’s made about Bernie Sanders."

Among Korge's anti-Sanders social media posts identified by the Huffington Post was one saying Sanders would have to raise taxes to pay for his policies.

"The only Bern the middle class will feel from Bernie is the pain from all the tax increases," Korge wrote while attending one of the 2016 Clinton-Sanders primary debates.

Korge also criticized Sanders for being "weak on guns for political purpose."

The DNC went to great lengths to convince Sanders to sign a loyalty pledge earlier this year, making him vow not to run as a third-party candidate if he were to lose the primary. In return it made changes urged by Sanders, such as minimizing the role of superdelegates in the nomination process.

Even though Sanders nearly won the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, he elected to remain an independent for his 2018 reelection to the Senate.

Cohen also spoke out against giving the important fundraising post to a former lobbyist. Many Democratic presidential candidates have rejected lobbyist contributions to their campaigns.

"I don’t believe the purpose of the party is to promote people who do well by doing well for themselves," Cohen said. "And for many of us at the DNC and in the party across the country, that will continue to be a cause of concern."

The DNC shook up its leadership after the disastrous 2016 cycle, during which it was caught aiding Clinton against Sanders.

The national committee has struggled to raise money in the years since. It was outspent by nearly $150 million by its Republican counterpart during the 2018 cycle, yet still entered this year with significantly less money in the bank.

The DNC has banned its staff from criticizing or praising any of the 2020 presidential candidates, even in private correspondence.