Sanders Campaign Never Knew Clinton and DNC Had Deal Before Primaries, Officials Say

Independent U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders campaign did not know about Hillary Clinton’s financing and fundraising agreement with the Democratic National Committee, nor was the Sanders campaign offered a similar deal, two former top campaign officials told NBC News.

The claims increased cries of foul play, though not illegality, on the parts of Clinton’s former campaign and the DNC and its alleged favoring of the former secretary of state over Vermont’s Sanders.

They also contradict what DNC chair Tom Perez wrote to party members Thursday following ex-chair Donna Brazile’s revelation of the deal with the Clinton campaign.

"We had no addendum like this, no memorandum, no agreement like this," the Sanders’ campaign’s former liaison to the DNC Mark Longabaugh told NBC in a report published Saturday. "They basically came to us and said, here's the agreement, take it or leave it."

"I had no idea there was side memorandum with the Clinton campaign," Longabaugh also said.

GettyImages-546506776 Then-presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton makes a point as Bernie Sanders applauds July 12, 2016 at a rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire where she received Sanders'endorsement. AFP via Getty Images/Justin Saglio

The head of the Sanders campaign also derided language in an email sent by the law firm Perkins Coie that was working with the DNC and Clinton. The message stated the DNC “had discussions with Clinton” and that the party “would be happy to chat with the Sanders team” over funding for last year’s general election.

"Throwing this catchall at the end saying that this document doesn't say what it says is a little disingenuous," former campaign manager Jeff Weaver also said. "Anybody who suggests we were being treated the same way is playing semantic games."

Brazile claimed she “promised” Sanders to find out if the DNC had “rigged” the primary process in Clinton’s favor, in an excerpt published Thursday by Politico from her upcoming book. Brazile wrote she had discovered a signed agreement made by the Clinton campaign and the DNC that would allow the campaign to make staffing and fundraising decisions in exchange for digging the party out of $25 million in debt.

The deal was struck August 2015, 15 months before the general election and well before any Democratic primaries.

Perez, who took over the party’s chairmanship in February, later Thursday issued a letter to Democratic members that promised “transparency” for the 2020 election. He also said joint fundraising committees were made with both the Clinton and Sanders campaigns with the understanding the funds “would have benefited any candidate coming out of the presidential primary process.”

Clinton, who won the party’s nomination by 977 delegates and won 34 states’ primaries, and Sanders had engaged in a terse and difficult battle for Democrats top spot. Many believed Sanders should have stepped down sooner than he did in order to allow Clinton to focus on the general election.

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