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. Disturbed

    Honestly I am glad Obama spoke up about this. If you remember correctly it was Bill who started the questions in Nevada by saying that he overheard in a casino Obama supporters threatening members of their union if they voted for Hilary. This he managed to hear over all the reporters asking questions, photographers snapping pictures and the general casino sounds that are always going on. Obama is not questioning the outcome of the vote. He is simply saying that everyone's vote should count. You should also notice his rep stated that Hilary should be equally forthcoming if she knows of any such regularities. The point is to ensure the primaries are fairly conducted no matter what. He does not want his supporters to employ these tactics and expects other candidates to do the same. Especially troubling is notice from the Hilary campaign stating that it is not illegal unless you are told it is! Did Bush dress up in a Hilary costume to stay in office? I am a democrat who will never vote for Hilary. ANY republican would be a better choice. At least they can campaign for themselves instead of having their spouses do the heavy lifting.

    January 24, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  2. Ryan

    The Clinton campaign is pulling dirty political tricks to be elected president. (Read the Letters sent) This is the dirty politics that Barack Obama is trying to change. Hillary says she is a candidate of change, but she is showing that she will say and do anything to become president. For a true Change in our government and our nations we must vote for a president who doesn't use corrupt tatics, who is trulfy in what they say. We must vote for Barack Obama.

    January 24, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  3. Joe

    I am supporting John Edwards in my state's primary. he seems to be running this election capapaign fairly. He critcizes his opponents policies, and practices but does not attack their character. No politicians hands are completely clean, but this level of bickering between the Obama and Clinton camps is giving the Republicans an opening because it is turning off independant voters and moderates. Wake up Dems and nominate a candiate like Edwards who is true to Democratic party values and has broad appeal even outside of the party.

    January 24, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  4. Patrick

    I am getting sick of this ugly fight that Barack has started. At least President Clinton is helping Hillary. What the hell is Michelle doing???? nothing !! So, I hate how these accusatory, demeaning, atrocious comments are being made by Barack. Hillary can not be held responsible for what her husbands' white house years, but she is responsible for her actions as Senator of New York. If you look at the roll call of the each session that Hillary was suppoesed to be at she was accounted for being there and she actually voted. Barack didnt show up for half of the sessions and hardly voted for anything. I think that it is a shame that he is even still a senator, the state of Illinois should be firing him for not doing his required job. He is also throwing accusations like the Clinton campaign is playing dirty. Barack is playing dirty, pure and simple and making it look like Hillary is doing it.

    Shame on you Obama, Play nice and GROW UP!!!

    Hillary, You go girl....
    Madame President

    January 24, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  5. Bill

    The actions of the Clinton campaign shows that just like in the Republican party there is a large group of Democrats who are taking Obama's and Edwards message of change as a threat to their lively hoods and the way that they want America to continue to do business..( From the top down). If we as Americans want true change we are going to have to take it because as we can see with the Clinton's they will do and say anything to preserve their way of doing business in America.

    January 24, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  6. Joe

    I don't think anyone can criticize the claims by the Obama campaign, unless you were actually in Nevada and can attest as to whether or not there was voter suppression. Bill Clinton came out and publicly bashed the Obama campaign and the Culinary Union for voter suppression. The Obama campaign is instead filing a formal complaint with the NV Demoratic Party. If there really was an issue with voter suppression, wouldn't Obama's strategy be more appropriate than Bill Clinton's public unfounded accusations? Between the two campaigns, I think Obama is taking the high(er) road on this. The Clintons keep convincing us that they will do anything to win the election.

    January 24, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  7. Ohio

    I'm glad that Hillary is fighting against Obama. It seems she has him backed into a corner and that is great. Can you imagine if there was a candidate that would not stand up to him, he would run away with the nomination. He has a scary way of making people believe him and getting them on his bandwagon.

    One thing that I cannot believe is the media did not make a big deal out of Obama's radio time bought in Nevada, in Spanish to run Hillary in the ground.

    Hillary 08

    January 24, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  8. Arthur

    If you don't like Obama or Clinton the only other choice is John Edwards. I can't believe people saying they will vote Republican instead of Clinton. Think!!!

    January 24, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  9. Prak

    Don't you see, Obama is acting out as expected. Sure he has to fight back, but thinkers in the US must realize that he himself has "fudged" in the process. The more he blames the Hillary camp for his falling numbers, the more criticism he'll get for crying. If he wins, it'll help him fight the GOP.

    January 24, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  10. Bev

    Oh My Goodness!!!! I can't believe you planning to go from Democratic to Republican. I am a register Republican and I have enough with Bush, Cheney & Rove. Look at what has happened in the last 8 years. My Godness, you all deserve more of what we're getting. Wake up...Let Clinto and Obama fight their way to winning. No more Republicans...PLEASE

    January 24, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  11. pet

    look, obama is not challenging the RESULTS OF NEVADA only the tactics used by the clintons. but for these dirty tactics maybe obama could have won, and COMPLAINING MIGHT PREVENT FUTURE CLINTON DIRTY TACTICS IN OTHER STATES.

    January 24, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  12. philmadison

    CNN made up this issue.

    Well CNN dont like Clinton– too bad I dont care what CNN think


    January 24, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  13. njdem

    Speak for yourself Democrat from NY. I will never vote for a cry baby!

    January 24, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  14. Matt

    I'm not sure I would be inclined to vote Republican over Clinton – but I would grit my teeth and have severe problems doing it and a third party candidate like Bloomberg would be very tempting.

    If Obama was the VP though, I'd be okay with it despite my strong dislike of the Clintons. I'd do it because Obama is a very unique politician this country needs.

    I love the party where they all admitted their weakness and Edward and Clinton copped out and gave fake "i just care too much" excuses. Obama just like a real person admitted he was a little messy and instead they attacked him on it. I hope Americans see through this.

    January 24, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  15. Chris

    The camoaign of change (both Obama AND Clinton) has devolved into polotics as usual. This race has become increasingly disappointing by the day. It's like watching a food-fight between 12-year-olds.

    -Disenfranchised Voter

    January 24, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  16. X

    Obama's people did not allows act appropriately in Iowa either. These issues are not new. Obama's campainers were aggressive and confrontational at caucus sites. They pestered other's candidates caucus goers in what could easily be labled "intimidation". It was very unbecoming. Personally, I had to tell an Obama campaigner numerous times to leave me alone and finally had to raise my voice and demand she leave me alone before she turned her attention onto others. It was intimidation tactics clear and simple.

    January 24, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  17. Isaac

    I have been following this development and I know that Democrats are destroying themselves. The kind of controversy being generated in Democratic party primary will definitely tear the party apart and will create a very good chance for Repulican victory. Repulican primary has progressed in order and peace. we don't normally hear about bitter politics played between the candidates. This could have been one of the easiest victories for a democratic party in the general election but they lost it already. John Mccain is likely to emerge as the next president. My intuition never failed me.

    January 24, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  18. KGH

    Enough whining Obama ... perhaps they should inquire about the Iowa results. I watched some of it on c-span. It looked like a blend of a kangaroo court and goal rodeo.

    January 24, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  19. tom from california

    To all of the people talking about his "present" voting. Hillary was absent more than Obama voted "present" and was absent from his time in the senate.

    She was proven a liar about the Reagan comments....so stop being ignorant.

    I was a Clinton fan until she resulted to this accusations before Obama had to to defend himself.

    It will be a sad day in America if she makes the White House beacuse America will, once again, prove their idiocracy


    January 24, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  20. David

    Senator Obama shows once again why he's not fit to be President ...

    January 24, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  21. James Martins


    The clinton are political crooks, they will say anything and do anything to win. I will vote for the GOP if Hillary wins the democratic ticket, the Clintons are too power hungry. There are other better Candidates

    January 24, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  22. Allen

    Obama files the complaint, Hillary says he is acting out because he lost in Nevada. She won the popular vote and he won the delegate vote.

    Bush's past election shows that popular vote no longer matters in this country, but it is the delegate vote. We need to change the elctorial process back to the popular vote. Right now, a candidate only needs to win the top several states in delegate count and he/she wins the election. It is possible with high voter turn-out in low to medium delegate count states and low voter turn-out in high delegate count states for one candidate to win the popular vote by many millions and yet lose the election based on delegate counts.

    If Hillary wins the candidacy, expect nothing but dirty politics and tactics in the general election. She will do and say anything to get elected to the office that provided her and her family with hundreds of thousands of dollars for pardoning convicted criminals. She will twist every truth into a lie. Obama and McCain will run the most truthful and best campaigns and either one of them will be the best one to stand for the American people.

    January 24, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  23. Newyorker

    If Barak Hussein Obama wins, I will go for republicans. This is the most devisive election ever. Ours is better! – as a defining point, is not benefiting the country as a whole in solving both domestic and international problems. Think how easy for toll and deep-voiced men to hide their deep inedequacy; it only requires well rehersed demagogy, training in how to deal with unwanted questiuons and to wrap it up in condecending manners of a selfrightches preacher. He will never survive schrewd republiucan male opponents.

    God bless us all.

    January 24, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  24. Holly

    RE: Bill's response:

    [ there is a large group of Democrats who are taking Obama's and Edwards message of change as a threat to their lively hoods and the way that they want America to continue to do business]

    OMG...what planet did you fly in from anyway or did you just awake after a very long sleep?

    First of all, WHAT MESSAGE OF CHANGE??? Did you mean the sound bite that sounds like the MESSAGE OF RHETORIC from Obama? The only "change" is going to be a newly elected president.

    Secondly, do not lump Edwards Obama together, they are two distinct candidates with their own platforms. Now, with regard to threatening "their" lively hood, Sen. Hillary already has a lively hood, thus the Senator designation. If you recall Bill, whether you liked former Pres. Clinton or not, our country was in a much better state economically and we were not despised throughout the world like we are today. Don't forget what "party" has been in power the last few miserable years.

    Obama has not offered one idea yet with any real substance or merit, only great hype about some false hope he is offering. Is a Obama a realist, does he have a clear understanding of what our Congress & Senate does with regard to what any elected president might want?

    He wants the American people to believe that his message of hope and change is going to somehow perform a miracle and we are going to enjoying some kind of political utopia.

    Pleeeeeease get real people, this coming election is more meaningful than the precedent of whether a black man or woman becomes the next president.

    We need leadership for this country, NOT a great campaign slogan or sound bite.

    Sen. Hillary Clinton possesses the leadership qualities that this country needs so desperately right now. She demonstrates by her position on every key issue!

    Hillary in 08

    January 24, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  25. SJ

    I'm glad Nevada has been brought up.....Why did CNN chose to air the caucus coverage from the Casino????? A place that was supposed to be a heavy favorite for Obama...Could you not get a camera in where the Teachers Union voted? Could you not have fairly covered both places?

    Go back and listen to the coverage from the casino...how many times at the beginning did CNN comment "It looks like the room is overwhelmingly full of Obama supporters" But watching the whole thing, the vote came out just about even! Does CNN want Obama to win so bad that they can't see what was right in front of them? I saw the room on TV...it looked even to me right from the get go....wasn't the final count 80-86??????

    Looks like CNN was WRONG again, just like in New Hampshire.....wonder how playing Bill Clinton's comments OVER AND OVER AND OVER again the last 24 hours will affect the South Carolina vote....What's so funny is you ran back to the studio and did EXACTLY what Bill said you'd do. He's so smart 🙂

    January 24, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
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