The Bernie Sanders campaign has regained access to voter data after it was blocked by the Democratic National Committee following a data breach into Hillary Clinton’s proprietary voter data by four Sanders staffers who reportedly saved information from dozens of files.
According to data reviewed by TIME, the Sanders campaign appears to have obtained files with lists of voters that the Clinton campaign had cultivated in 10 early states including Iowa and New Hampshire.
Beyond simply reviewing the data, the logs show the Sanders staffers took deliberate steps to harvest and store the information. According to the logs, the Sanders staff created from scratch no fewer than 24 lists—consisting entirely of data pulled down from the Clinton campaign’s database—and saved them to their personal folders.
The logs show the Sanders campaign accessed the Clinton data for nearly one hour beginning around 10:40 p.m. Wednesday. The Sanders staffers were apparently able to view unique voter information along with accompanying information about how likely the voters were to vote for the various candidates, crucial information that the Clinton campaign has likely spent millions of dollars to collect.
Following the breach, the DNC shut down Sanders’ access to data for approximately 60 hours. It was restored on Saturday, several hours after the Sanders campaign filed a federal lawsuit to regain access, saying the DNC had violated its contract in shutting off access with no warning. Meanwhile, Sanders’ campaign staff accused the DNC of trying to undermine their campaign to prop up Hillary Clinton.
DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz announced the restoration of access late on Friday night:
The Sanders campaign has provided us with the info needed to restore their voter file access; now it's time to refocus on winning in 2016.
— Debbie Wasserman Schultz (@DWStweets) December 19, 2015
The Sanders campaign has not yet indicated whether it will drop the lawsuit.
The allegations over the data breach were expected to be a main topic of tonight’s Democratic debate as Sanders and Clinton staffers exchanged in a back-and-forth over what happened when a firewall separating the campaigns from each other’s data went down briefly earlier this week. In a statement issued late Friday, the DNC said Sanders’ campaign had complied with the DNC request to provide information amid its investigation.
“Based on this information, we are restoring the Sanders campaign’s access to the voter file but will continue to investigate to ensure that the data that was inappropriately accessed has been deleted and is no longer in possession of the Sanders campaign,” the statement said. “The Sanders campaign has agreed to fully cooperate with the continuing DNC investigation of this breach.”
Hillary Clinton’s Press Secretary Brian Fallon spoke with CNN about the breach of the files, saying Sanders staffers were like “kids in a candy store” once they gained access to the files, downloading as much data as they could in 25 minutes:
The Sanders campaign released a statement following the restoration of access:
Yesterday afternoon, Steve Kornacki spoke with Josh Uretsky, the Sanders staffer who was fired over the data breach.
“We knew that what we were doing was trackable and we were trying to create a clear record of a problem before reporting it…We had to assume that our data was equally exposed and updated reports show that it was. And we just wanted to document and understand the scope of the problem so that we could report it accurately.”
“When you say document the extent of the problem does that mean go through everything that Hillary Clinton had and you wanted to see if she had anything you had?”
Uretsky replied that they wanted to create a record on Clinton’s system without taking any data for their own purposes.
“At least to my knowledge we did not export any records or voter file data…we did establish there was proof of a problem.”
Kornacki continued to prod Uretsky about actually going into Clinton’s files.
“We didn’t take custodianship of [the information] I guess the analogy would be…somebody leaves the front door open…and you left a note inside the front door saying you left the door open. And then maybe you went and checked the side door, too, to make sure that door was closed.”
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