DNC Party Members Turning Against Wasserman Schultz After IT Scandal

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz / Getty Images
August 10, 2017

Members of the Democratic Party are turning on Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.) after an IT staffer scandal that only added to her unpopularity.

Democratic Party members are eager for Schultz to step down as part of their effort to rebrand, Politico reported.

Schultz resigned from her post as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee one year ago, after leaked emails revealed she and other party officials were trying to sabotage Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I., Vt.) campaign. She was infamously booed by activists, who shouted "shame" at her during a Florida delegation breakfast speech.

Most recently, Schultz came under fire for employing Imran Awan, an IT staffer who has been under federal investigation since February for an equipment and data scam in the House. Schultz had only fired him when he attempted to flee the U.S. to his native Pakistan.

Awan was fired by Schultz six months after two dozen House Democrats fired four of his relatives and one friend who were all under investigation with him.

Schultz dismissed the negative media attention about Awan, claiming she was the victim of a "right wing media" attack. She said the attack was a result of anti-Muslim bigotry towards Awan and his family.

Schultz's response to the Awan scandal upset members of the DNC.

"We wish she would go away and stop being so public by doubling down on negative stories," said Florida DNC member Nikki Barnes.

Barnes dismissed Schultz's statement on Awan.

"None of this makes sense," she said. "It doesn't sound like racial profiling … there must have been something for her."

Barnes said the negative attention Schultz is receiving from Awan's IT scandal has hurt the Democratic Party.

"This adds to Debbie being re-branded as the Democrats' disastrous destruction," Barnes said. "Those of us on the DNC know we have to rebrand ourselves and earn the people's trust. And unfortunately, Debbie's name does not scream trust. It screams power. It screams limited access. It screams WikiLeaks now. DNC lawsuit. It screams a lot of negative things to the public. That's not how we want to rebrand ourselves."

"Everything that's going on right now is taking away from what success we're seeing in the grassroots movement. No one's talking about the people's platform or hearing our good news because the headlines are focused on Debbie, her misplaced laptop, and consequences," Barnes said.

The former mayor of Minneapolis and former DNC vice chair R.T. Rybak said Schultz's role in the 2016 election has made her a negative national figure.

"Debbie Wasserman Schultz is still a national figure, but unfortunately for her it's because so many people around the country see her as playing a devastatingly bad role in the last election," R.T. Rybak said. "I can mention her name in Minneapolis and it gets a viscerally negative reaction, and I've found that to be the case in other parts of the country, too. Sadly, I think she deserves the negative reputation."

Democratic donor and trial lawyer John Morgan said Schultz made a lot of enemies during the last election. "In politics, you're as strong as your friends. And she doesn't have as many as she used to. And that's her fault," he said.

Schultz will be up for re-election in 2018. Tim Canova, who was backed by Sanders, lost to Schultz in the 2016 primary. He plans to run again next year.