January 23rd, 2008
02:37 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama campaign registers formal complaint over Nevada

(CNN) - Barack Obama's campaign has filed a formal complaint with the Nevada Democratic Party Wednesday over allegations of irregularities in Saturday’s caucuses in that state – “violations” they blame on Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

“I am writing to request that the Nevada State Democratic Party conduct an inquiry into an apparent and disturbing pattern of incidents reported at precinct locations throughout the state during the January 19 Caucus," the Obama campaign’s general counsel, Bob Bauer, said in a letter to State Party Chairwoman Jill Derby.

The complaint includes material Bauer claims was sent out by the Clinton campaign that includes the line: "It's not illegal unless they tell you so."

"This certainly suggests that, for the Clinton campaign, the operative standard was, simply and only, what it could get away with," Bauer wrote.

In his letter, Bauer says the campaign has received reports of more than 1,600 complaints, including reports of voter obstruction and early door closings, many of which came in through a special hotline set up by the campaign.

He said the Obama camp is not challenging the Nevada outcome, but is requesting an official inquiry into campaign tactics by Clinton supporters in the state.

The Clinton campaign has also complained of alleged voter intimidation by Obama allies during Saturday’s Nevada vote.

“The reality is that the Sen. Obama's allies engaged in intimidation and strong-arm tactics against our supporters at their workplaces and at caucus sites. And they ran outrageous, false and offensive ads against Sen. Clinton,” Clinton campaign spokesman Phil Singer said in response to Bauer’s complaint.

“Sen. Obama lost and now his campaign is acting out.”

Hillary Clinton won the Nevada caucuses, though Barack Obama captured more delegates.

Obama complaint (pdf)

UPDATE: Clinton campaign counsel Lyn Utrecht sent Derby a letter late Wednesday detailing a long list of allegations against Obama supporters in Nevada, including "systematic corruption" of the state's caucus procedures and "voter suppression and intimidation."

"This letter is not intended as a response to the Obama campaign's letter," wrote Utrecht. "However, in the interest of a complete record" the Clinton campaign "wishes to bring to your attention information we have received evidencing a premeditated and systematic corruption of the party's caucus procedures."

It also states that the Clinton campaign supports an inquiry into events surrounding Saturday's vote.

Clinton letter (pdf)

–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
soundoff (491 Responses)
  1. Joel

    I was in Nevada volunteering at a caucus, and the Clintons absolutely hands-down broke the rules on purpose, beginning with dispersing the order to close the doors at 11:30 when they were supposed to remain open until 12pm (I had a head-to-head argument with several Clinton volunteers about it as it was happening, there is zero room for doubt on this point). Those of us who were there were sickened and disheartened by what we saw, and were worried that the Obama campaign would not file a complaint so as to avoid the exact "sore loser"-type comments seen above. If you believe that Obama is a sore loser for filing such a complaint, then I certainly hope you believe Al Gore was a sore loser and that George Bush won in 2000 fair and square, because that's the position you're taking. Elections have rules, and when those rules are broken, it imperils the validity of our democracy, and it is encumbent on all of us to expose tampering whenever we're aware of it. If you believe otherwise, then you clearly have no respect for the sanctity of democracy, only for those who are able to claim victory by any means necessary. If the Clintons have simliar evidence, they should file their own complaint, instead of sending letters to the media.

    January 24, 2008 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  2. JohnS

    Before and immediately after IOWA, Edwards was SEEN as ANGRY; yes, very different and ANGRY. How short minded are we as a nation?

    In NH, Hillary cried being close to losing to a "black man." Women rushed to her rescue to save the day. Now, Bill is out there daily. If Hillary wins this nomination, can we say that she did it at the backs of women and her MAN? I guess it is hard for such people to stand alone!!!

    Well, after all the previous and ongoing negative commercials about a "black man," are we to say that he has no RIGHT whatsoever to CLEAR his own GOOD name even if he does not get your vote?

    I guess the reasons above validate the thinking for NOT taking the "popular votes" very seriously; thanks to the ELECTORAL COLLEGE, there are tons of simply "ill-informed" people out there who should certainly stay out of the voting process; the system cannot depend on the judgments of such people. As a result, your popular votes will really count LESS, thank GOD!!!!

    January 24, 2008 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
  3. John

    Obama was the victim here...Clearly, the Clintons (who are no strangers to breaking the law) did this. Do you not remember all the people who conveniently turned up dead years ago? ...nuff said.
    Now, Obama wasn't complaining against the party, but against the Clinton campaign...But, if the party wants to turn its back, I'm sure Barack would make a very formidible liberal independent...
    And likewise...If the Republicans don't get their act together, they may very well end up with a conservative independent to deal with, in the Form of Ron Paul or Mike Huckabee...
    The bottom line is this:
    "Hey, corporate elites, people are more and more on to you, and they want a REAL candidate...The only way you can stop it is for Bush to invoke martial law...you know, to protect us from some contrived national emergency." What's funny is that, Bill, Hill, George and Laura will all still be kicking back sipping their champagne no matter what happens...
    NO corp. elitist cares about you or your interest...HILLARY IS ONE....SO IS MCCAIN...Geesh...Wake up.
    Obama Vs. Huck...now there's a contest....both intelligent, quick witted, and in it for the people and families...then we can't lose!

    January 24, 2008 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
  4. David Snider

    P.S. Obama WON Nevada. 13 delegates to 12 seems like a victory to me if the nomination is decided by delegates.


    January 24, 2008 02:37 am at 2:37 am |
  5. amyn

    I know the instinct of most readers of this news is to say "Sore losers." But I was there and the Obama campaigns allegations are absolutely true. I'm a filmmaker and spent the entire afternoon filming the stories of people who had attended the caucuses and were very disturbed by what they saw. The HIllary campaign knew the Nevada volunteers would be overwhelmed by the arcane rules and large attendance numbers and decided to do whatever it took to get favorable results. I heard the story about closing the doors at 11:30 several times (it was even printed in a phony "caucus guidelines" booklet given out) as well as a lot of evidence that caucus procedures were not followed at all because the people running the precincts were Hillary supporters and knew they could get away with it.

    Just because Obama ended up getting more delegates does not mean that such a story does not deserve to be known by the general public. This is not mudslinging nor is it "sour grapes". The Clinton campaign chose this Rove-like tactic and they have to deal with the consequences. It's a shame that Clinton does not feel confident enough to win states on her own merits rather than resorting to shady tactics. If news like this is not made public, she will continue to break the rules.

    It's long overdue that we fix the election procedures in this country and have an honest and transparent and regulated process. Didn't we learn ANYTHING from Florida in 2000? Shame on us as a country for being indifferent and complacent when our democracy falters.

    Hillary's actions are further proof that she will be "more of the same old politics" that Americans are tired of.

    January 24, 2008 02:43 am at 2:43 am |
  6. Bill

    I have seen dirty campaigning in my lifetime but the Clinton stuff is not dirty politics, its filthy politics. They are using every dirty trick in the book plus more..... and funny hing is that they havent even gotten the nomination yet, how are thy going to do it with the republicans, i really wonder.

    January 24, 2008 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  7. Ginny CA

    Barack doesn't have what it takes to run a campaign. He's too thin-skinned and believes he's entitled to a hands-off policy. He's just clouding up the real issues by his constant complaints, whining, and petulance. We don't need a sensitive, pantywaist sitting in the oval office.

    January 24, 2008 03:21 am at 3:21 am |
  8. Susan in Cincinnati

    Hey... why don't any of my comments get past the "awaiting moderation" status?

    Is this website being moderated by the anti-clinton campaign?

    In my last positive comment about Hillary... I received an all our rejection. What's going on here? Some of these folks make off the cuff comments that are completely non-sensical. Yet I have to read through them.

    50 years old in Cincinnati, Ohio
    (And questioning media censorship)

    January 24, 2008 05:03 am at 5:03 am |
  9. Laura

    Okay...first of all we have 3 LAWYERS vying for the nomination, of course they are going to "play dirty" as much as they can. Welcome to American politics. I want to see how people perform under pressure and debate, I welcome this bickering as it will show us mettle and moxy ultimately.
    Obama, go home and serve another term and then we can talk and fortheloveofgod quit positing yourself as such a whipped husband, I'd prefer Michelle run AND she's on the international best dressed list to boot. We need some fabulous in the White House.
    Edwards, go home and enjoy every minute and moment you have left with your lovely wife. Your bid for the presidency demonstrates to me your lack of priorities. I don't care if Elizabeth insists you run, it's too grueling on her. You are letting your ambition cloud your good judgement. Help your wife put your house in order. She is in end stage breast cancer! The last thing she needs is a white house stint. It's not a freaking spa.
    Hillary, you have my vote. You are like a freaking roboton, you conduct yourself with a professionalism that we haven't seen at the helm for almost a decade. I love the idea of the Clintons being back in the White House. Bill will be a great First Gentleman. Yeah, I know they are all basically full of it, but Bill and Hillary actually make me want to believe it. GO HILLARY!

    January 24, 2008 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  10. John C

    I would vote for ANY Democrat over the clowns on the Republican side.

    January 24, 2008 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  11. Jufus, Milwaukee, WI

    A Texan January 23, 2008 3:35 pm ET

    All allegations should be investigated.
    Our democracy is at stake and ALL Americans should stand up for fairness in ALL elections, primaries, and caucuses. I believe that the Obama campaign is not being petty but they are doing what they can so that it does not happen again in the future.

    Obama '08

    I'm alleging you are a total IDIOT!

    Please make sure that is thoroughly investigated... ANYONE but Dah Dude that speaks in paragraphs, sorry, books!

    January 24, 2008 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  12. Jufus, Milwaukee, WI

    Nathan January 23, 2008 9:40 pm ET

    Reading both complaints, Obama's seems better documented. He counted the number of complaints and included quotes. Most damaging, he points out instructions to Clinton voters. "It's not illegal unless they tell you so".

    Obama can count?

    January 24, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  13. Roger

    I'm voting for Barack Obama because I don't want to die fighting Iran - a country which has never attacked us - on behalf of a foreign power which has its own nuclear weapons and doesn't need our help.

    Hillary would see to it that we'd invade Iran, as a 'favor' to certain supporters of hers, and we don't need to make that mistake.

    January 24, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  14. Jim Kansas

    Only one thing to Obama and his sipporters- GROW UP.

    January 24, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  15. jr

    Hillary and Obama aren't the only ones running. Vote for the person that really cares about the issues and doesn't bicker....EDWARDS.

    January 24, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  16. Moi

    Barack Obama not only lacks experience he also lacks a clear message....all he does is speak in broad general statements, trying to make people respond positively. He has no definitive plans for America which is why I'm voting for Hillary, who has aconcrete platform with a strong economic focus.

    This may come off as racist, but why is Barack Obama only portraying himself as black? He is just as much white as black....

    January 24, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  17. TJS

    While the are investigating they should check into how many illegals cast a vote. Guess that news was all overlooked, the union for the casino workers admitted they have a do not ask, not tell policy regarding proving citizenship. This is the bigger problem with that election if you ask me. Why doesn't somebody check into that? Aren't we trying to stop the illegal immigration, I am confused then why we would overlook them voting in a process that would determine their fate. All this is telling me is how the democrats will handle the problem with illegal entry. Look the other way? I think if it is ever proved that there is no way of providing proof that all that voted were American registered voters the whole thing should be thrown out and that state should seriously be investigated. I notice is is VERY easy to get a voters reg. card compared to a drivers lic.,. etc. I know personally of at least one person that is registered to vote who lost that right over 20 years ago. How many more are there? Guess nobody cares or checks into these type things.

    January 24, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  18. Steve

    Read the reports. Obama's has quotes and evidence. Clinton's is just a list of unsupported attacks based on supposed received calls.

    January 24, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  19. Ty

    Some of you should use that fundamental ability called "READING" ... the article clearly says :

    "He said the Obama camp is not challenging the Nevada outcome, but is requesting an official inquiry into campaign tactics by Clinton supporters in the state."

    So therefore he's not debating the outcome ... he's debating the TACTICS and they've recieved over 1600 complaints from Nevada voters alone so why shouldn't they do something about it?

    OBAMA '08

    January 24, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  20. toxic

    OMG ok seriously i am a black woman and im completely angry at obama and clinton seriously i cant believe that this is happening!!! BILLARY shame on you
    Obama shame on YOU too.even if they say anything about you, dont stoop to their level.Grow up You ppl.im not voting for bIllary,never wanted to vote for her cos of the clinton dynasty thing,i was for obama but now!!! No more,he needs to spend more time telling us about his platforms not about what billary said or didnt say.
    EDWARDS 08

    January 24, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  21. Werrason

    Hillary and Bill Evil
    We are christians, we can not vote for Evil couple
    Never again

    We love Obma
    Go B+O GO

    January 24, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  22. rayan

    What happend to the politics in US. I would say, it was not the problem till New Hempshere. It started after they moved west and south where more latino and aferican american people live. By the way interesting thing is, people think obama is cute and truthful. His campign is the one who started the race card by going to the press about clinton's comments about johnson and twisted what she said. I think since then everybody is twisting each others words. Clintons are good politician and have experince in twisting the facts too. Why barack again brought race after his truce in navada debate. it Is because he wanted to win SC black votes. why clinton is fighting to get the black votes because he did lot for the black people and they at that time called him black president and now he wants their favor but black vote for black not for white because they don't care what you do for them they only care about their race and brag about racism. Another point is who started the personal allegation about "clinton in board of director for wall mart"
    It wil cost barak in the long run by doing so, if he keep fighting with clintons and looses the nomination, he will not be able to get the Vice president ticket with clinton. He has act intelligently by keeping his mouth shut and doing the serious campign. There are lot of people who are as intelligent as barak like even baye from indiana who has good chance to be VP if she won the nomination. Barak has to keep his option open.

    January 24, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  23. Patrick

    Why is it that when Obama tried to reply to slanders by the Clintons we have bunch of idiots who said he is acting childish?

    So what should he do then? Just let Clintons keep on spreading lies?

    It is scary to imagine that a bunch of liars (Clintons) might become President.

    January 24, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  24. Jules

    Let it go. Let it go. Let it go. It is probably a case of overzealous supporters making questionable decisions. I doubt that either Obama or Clinton was aware of these actions nor did they approve or endorse them. We are not enemies. We can work together. Let it go.

    January 24, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  25. Tom

    Grow up Obama!!!!

    This is getting very petty now; Obama seriously needs some more time to gain experience in politics. He should stop crying to the dean.

    EDWARDS for President.

    January 24, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
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