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. Nash

    Obama band-aiding his disastrous defeat in Nevada? Sour-graping that he lost when he expected to win? Unwittingly, Obama is going against his own self. With his latest tantrums over his primary and caucus losses and poll frustrations, he is not UNIFYING the Democrats, but DIVIDING them to serve his self-interest and indirectly to aid the Republicans. How can he UNIFY when he insults the voters in Nevada and other states who voted overwhelmingly for Hillary? How can he preach CHANGE and HOPE now with his recent manifestations of HOPELESSNESS and his defiant insistence to CHANGE the course of Hillary's steady march to nomination victory? Barack, you were doing well before towards the Iowa caucus, but you're doing worse now towards Super Tuesday. And who is benefiting from your stumbling – it's Hillary.

    January 23, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  2. Ryan, Los Angeles CA

    GO HOME OBAMA – what a sore loser. Obama is all sugar-coated lies. Just give it up, and go back to voting "Present"

    January 23, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  3. Ron

    I'm sick of hearing Barack's constant whining!

    "WAAAA Hillary has a former president campaigning for her. All I've got is a talk show host that gives away stuff to her studio audience. That's not fair!"

    "WAAAA The Union endorsed me, but their members voted for Hillary. WAAA!"

    WAAAA All of the media promised me that I was a shoe in after Iowa, but I've lost 2 primaries in a row. There must have been some irregularities somewhere. WAAAA1"

    "WAAAA I don't have any experience and they do. Now they're attacking me on it. That's not fair! WAAAA!"

    "WAAAA I never thought anyone would call me out on all of those present votes. That's not Fair. WAAAA!"

    "WAAAA I'm a closet Reagan Fan who's just been exposed. WAAAA!"

    January 23, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  4. my comment

    my humble comment to Anne Amore:

    "If Hillary Clinton is not open-minded enough to interpret Barack Obama's comments how will she ever be able to decipher the language of foreign leaders….We will end up with another foreign policy disaster."

    well this is not about deciphering / interpreting Obama's speach. This is about US president to be able to be clear to all!
    Cannot expect other leaders to be open minded and read between the lines the right words, they might read something else....far more dangerous to international politics........

    think about it. Do you want to interpret what your husband, or coworker says all the time? No, you want it clear and understandable, without having to guess.

    there is a thing, and it is so true: the really intelligent and smart people know a lot, but the ones who are best can speak in words everybody understands. They are the best teachers and leaders. No need for fancy words, simple words can explain too.

    January 23, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  5. Tommy

    Don't be fooled people. He has to do this legally. This is the media spin for you to think that Hillary will file after he do. But legally because there were complains he has to do it because these are serious serious allegations.It has to be done soonest it happens.

    January 23, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  6. landon


    Please don't try to speak for all Black people. I will not vote for Obama. He lost my vote when he looked Clinton directly in the face and said "your husband did". I thought to myself, are we on the playground?

    All Black people will not vote for either candidate, you forget how many Blacks are now for the other party.

    I do hope we rise up, but don't ever put us all in the same boat.

    January 23, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  7. Madeline Jones

    I cannot help but question how Senator O'bama would hold up if he was president and had to take all the battering, criticism, and accusations that G.W. Bush has been subjected to. He seems to have fallen apart due to criticism by the Clintons. I feel he is TOO young and inexperienced at this time and he would crumble. However, IF he wins the Democratic nomination AND gets elected, I sure hope for the good of the country and his party he picks someone VERY STRONG for his running mate for the vice-presidency office. The reason I add that last thought is because I believe the KKK is ALIVE, and HEALTHY in this country, but in hibernation.

    January 23, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  8. my comment

    let's say we have 2 chess players. O wins. H loses. H keeps dignity, and learns from losing. Next play H wins. O flips. Starts whining, wants recheck the winner. Cannot take loss. H wins again. O gets more upset, and talks about fraud, attacks H. H has to respond to clean herself from the dirt of attack. etc etc etc
    Who si the real winner? H is!!!!!

    January 23, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  9. D.

    Further more Obama need to have some non-violent sit ins and marches. We have to keep this evil dual out of the white house and it starts now and not after she gets the nomination. This should really be a movement against we will do what ever it takes to win, Clintons. You don't see Hillary shedding tears now. She never cared about the "AMERICAN people" they only care about what "I can do" not what can be done for the people. Get real HRC supporters. You all sound like Bush Supporters, completely blind to rational thought. It makes no sense for us to vote Bill Clinton back to into office. It makes no sense to have a President and Co-Presidency, It makes no sense to ignore these obvious dirty tactics. It makes no sense to ignore these divide and conquer tactics. For the life of me, I can not understand what people get out of supporting this foolishness.

    Business as usually in America though. America will always be America no matter how much it wants and tries to be AMERICA. Maybe that's why its called the American Dream. It's clear that Uncle Sam the sand man is at it again.

    January 23, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  10. AJ, IL

    Obama's campaign is searching for the truth. The Clinton campaign (i.e. Bill Clinton made allegations of voter intimidation) decided their allegations were not worth persuing once Hillary won Nevada.

    January 23, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. MJC

    I am shocked that the "uniter" is now the biggest whiner in the primaries.

    January 23, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  12. Gil - California

    Actually, if this were the general election it would not matter who got the most votes, it would matter who got the most delegates. Barack got the most votes, he won Nevada. Sorry Hilly old gal, you lost. Get used to the feeling.

    January 23, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  13. anthony

    So this is the "ground game" that worked so well for hillary...

    How about some of this gets covered on the network?

    January 23, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  14. open eyes

    the only democrate candidate that has a chance to win the presidency is Edwards.
    Clinton has way to much baggage and if she thinks Obama is running a dirty campaign wait until she is going against the republican machine, and Obama struggling as he is now will be licking alot of wounds for the next few years.

    January 23, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  15. Ray

    AMAZING...Obama...Get over it..you lost.

    January 23, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  16. ssphinxx

    The objective in the presidential (general) election is to get the most electoral college votes (not the most popular votes). In the primary races the objective is to get the most delegations. If Obama got the most delegates in Nevada, then he won the primary. The Nevada Democratic Party allot delegates by congressional districts, as I undertand, instead of a winner-take-all system.

    January 23, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  17. CDH

    J, CA, don't you see, he's not really a Democrat. He wants to pattern himself after Reagan and thinks the Republicans are "the party" with ideas.

    January 23, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  18. Julianne

    Allegations of VOTER SUPPRESSION =/= WHINING

    Did any of the Clinton supporters even bother to read the report? Do you even care?

    If that's the way Clinton supporters think...well, that shows you the way Clinton supporters think. So, keep flaming, keep insinuating that Obama is a baby (very mature), and demonstrating that you refuse to take DISENFRANCHISEMENT seriously.

    "It's not illegal unless they you so".
    "Don't be afraid to go negative on the candidates"

    Also..."Call after the first alignment". What the hell?

    January 23, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  19. Kathyj.

    The candidates running for democratic election are adults, knowledgeable, experienced in politics and they certainly can take care of themselves. We the people, should be focused not on the "he said, she said," but rather who would make the best presidential candidate and eventually the next Commander in Chief.
    Wha'ts airing in the headlines about Obama, and Clinton is pety stuff when comparing it to what's gone on in the White House up until now and is placed there to undermine the front runners.
    Remain focused, what do you want in a President, and who can take the bull by the horns and get this economy back on track?

    January 23, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  20. Chaunda,IN


    please do not speak for all blacks in this childish I wont vote democrat if it is not Obama. That is the reason color has become an issue. As a black american, I will be excited to vote Hillary.

    January 23, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  21. danielo

    When rules say that polls should close at 12 noon they should close at 12 noon and not 11.30am.
    If someone could not vote because of early closure, thats fraud. If it happened in Nevada it can happen elsewhere and its very valid to raise the issue now and not later.


    January 23, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  22. eva

    I am a lifelong Democrat, but what 's Obama camp doing now, is giving me a second thought about my party. Please grow-up! , or my husband and I go independent.

    January 23, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  23. rick

    I was a participant in a caucus in Reno. I was an Obama supporter. The first count as I recall was Clinton 92 and Obama 112 and Edwards 38 and Kucinich 3. The chair said that that was three participants short of the initial headcount. The next vote amazingly enough was three more for Clinton. This was never confirmed by party rules by an independent counter, just ratified by voice acclamation.

    During the second realignment the Kucinich people came to Obama generating a final tally. My comment was there was no test of the Clinton supporters by an independent count as previously announced procedure. The ad hoc decision was to forego the safeguard of a miscount by letting the room give ayes. The procedure adopted was in violation of the aforementioned double check of the count by an independent individual, because the group didnt want to go through with another count.

    My comment is...Obama got 3 delegates for the Washoe County meeting, Clinton got 3 also, and Edwards got 1. Query: would Clinton have gotten 2 and Obama gotten 4 and Edwards gotten 1 had the count been done according to the rules and the 3 extra "heads" counted not really been there? No explantaion was ever given for the delegate breakdown. I was disappointed for that missing element for the experience. I'm not really an activist, I'm just a trial lawyer. While this may have been small in the scheme of things, statewide, don't these infractions add up to something of consequence?

    My feeling is this: the caucus experience resembles a practice done in grammar school electing the ball monitor. It is totally amateurish and smacks of Florida politcs with the dangling chads debate. All states participating in the Democratic Party primaries should go to primary elections and the votes apportioned appropriately.

    January 23, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  24. Louis

    Obama hasn't won anything since Iowa... the Media who tried to throw the election for him in New Hampshire with bogus polls were all left dumbfounded and decide to go with "Hillary's tears caused her to win"... Now race is the issue and Obama and the media hopes this will gain him some momentum in South Carolina... and after thinking he had Nevada all wrapped up again with the media backing him and the lawsuit which he'd won... AGAIN the voters said, "No, thank you... We want Hillary... We want experience... and it is about time that the United States catches up with the rest of the world and finally have a capable and effective female leader!"

    Sorry Obama... Oprah pulled you into this running for Prez wayyyyyy to early in your career.

    Hillary 2008!!!

    January 23, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  25. Rod

    It is a sad day in America when so many of us will accept the " it depends on what the meaning of "is" is Clintons over Mr. Obama.

    January 23, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
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