Top Hillary Adviser Mocked, Plotted Attacks on Pro-Sanders Civil Rights Leader

Tanden tried to push attacks on ex-NAACP head Ben Jealous

Ben Jealous, Neera Tanden
Ben Jealous, Neera Tanden / AP

Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden mocked and plotted attacks against the former president of the NAACP after he endorsed Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton.

Hacked emails sent to Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta reveal that Tanden wanted to attack former NAACP CEO Ben Jealous for his work for Kapor Capital, an investment fund dedicated to helping start-up tech companies owned by women and minorities. She also mocked the "puritanical" beliefs of Sanders supporters.

"If he does endorse Bernie, this is the firm he's part of today. It's a VC. As they go, not so bad, but still may not be fit the puritanical standards of the Bernistas," in a Feb. 3 email.

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The email marked a departure from the conciliatory approach and seemingly friendly relationship between Tanden and Jealous. Jealous reached out to the liberal activist in March 2015 asking to consult with her about a potential Senate run in his native Maryland. When Podesta first got word of Jealous’ potential Sanders endorsement he asked Tanden to reach out to woo him to the Clinton camp.

"Ben Jealous Is getting ready to endorse Bernie. Can you do an intervention?" Podesta asked Tanden on Jan. 28.

"Why would he do that? i'm happy to reach out to him. Not sure he will care, but happy to try," Tanden replied.

Jealous endorsed Sanders on Feb. 4 and was a surrogate for him to minority groups throughout the primary. He criticized Clinton for her support of the death penalty and the crime bill that was signed by Bill Clinton. Jealous told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Feb. 22 that the Clinton campaign was taking "the black vote for granted" and that her rhetoric about "super predators" was a "violation of psychology."

"I find it offensive, quite frankly, when you see so many Hillary surrogates sort of implying they could take the black vote for granted," he said. "Bernie Sanders has been very consistent in fighting racism, in fighting stupid wars, Vietnam or Iraq, he has been very consistent in fighting greed. When you take those with Hillary, it just gets confusing, confusing."

That same day Tanden mocked Jealous for his support of Sanders and his role in minority outreach.

"I know there are a million reasons to desperately want Hillary to win, but Ben Jealous feeling that he has no power is a particularly good one," she told Podesta.

Tanden also used conversations with Jealous to supply talking points and debate tips to the Clinton campaign. She called on Clinton in March to cut ties with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who served as a top presidential adviser to Bill Clinton, after several police shooting scandals rocked the city.

"I got into it w Ben jealous last night and he was all obsessed w how Hillary hasn't condemned Rahm. I'm sure you guys are all over this for the debate but just thought I'd send in that they may well go there for the debate," she said. "My rec is to separate big time."

Sanders released an ad critical of Emanuel later that month and thanked him for endorsing Clinton. Clinton snubbed Emanuel during a Chicago trip less than two weeks after the email.

Jealous declined to comment for the story. Tanden did not return request for comment.

Multiple defense and national security agencies have accused "Russia’s senior-most officials" of hacking and leaking emails posted to Wikileaks to influence the 2016 election.