The perpetually broke, deck-stacking DNC has been thrown into disarray just days before the Iowa caucus after Buzzfeed revealed that a cadre of top officials at the Democratic National Committee approved, then concealed a 'generous exit package for the party chair, Tom Perez, and two top lieutenants,' which has left Democrats 'confounded over the weekend by the optics and timing of the decision on the eve of the presidential primary."
The proposal, put forward as an official DNC resolution during a meeting of the party’s budget and finance committee last Friday, would have arranged for Perez and two of his top deputies, CEO Seema Nanda and deputy CEO Sam Cornale, to each receive a lump-sum bonus equaling four months’ salary within two weeks of the time they eventually leave their roles.
Senior DNC officers, including members of Perez’s own executive committee, learned of the compensation package after its approval, through the rumor mill, setting off a furious exchange of emails and texts over the weekend to determine what had been proposed, and by whom. -Buzzfeed
And while four-months salary might be more of a 'bronze parachute,' Perez rejected the "extra compensation" package for himself and his two lieutenants in an email to officials.
Perez says he will serve through the end of the 2020 election, while all three officials have denied having any prior knowledge of, or involvement in the pay package resolution.
"One-hundred percent of our resources are going towards beating Donald Trump," said DNC communications director Xochitl Hinojosa, who added "DNC leadership will not accept any extra compensation recommended by the budget committee, which didn’t operate at the direction of DNC leadership. The resolution was crafted by the budget committee and did not involve the Chair, CEO, or Deputy CEO."
Taking the fall for the resolution are two members of the DNC's budget and finance committee - Daniel Halpern and Chris Korge, who described it as the first step in a "smooth transition" for Perez.
Halperin, an anti-minimum wage lobbyist, was appointed by Perez in 2017. He previously chaired Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed's 2009 moyoral campaign, and was a trustee for Barack Obama's 2008 inaugural committee.
Chris Korge is a Florida attorney hired in May of 2019. He was one of the top fundraisers for Andrew Gillum, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, and served as the co-chairman for the Kerry Edwards campaign in 2004.
For years, the 64-year-old attorney, developer and one-time county hall lobbyist has been an important fundraiser for Democrats. He has raised millions for both Hillary and Bill Clinton, served as national co-chairman for Kerry Edwards Victory in 2004 and this year was co-chairman of Miami’s unsuccessful bid to bring the Democratic convention to South Florida next summer. -Miami Herald
According to Buzzfeed, Halpern and Korge both said the resolution was above-board and a common business practice.
The resolution, which only applies to the 2021 transition, states that the outgoing chair, CEO, and deputy CEO will help facilitate donor and “stakeholder” relations, and convey “institutional knowledge” to the next chair, but is less specific about the requirements of the transition than the details of the compensation package: a lump sum of four months’ pay, paid within two weeks, unless either Perez, Nanda, or Cornale is terminated for “gross misconduct.”
On Tuesday, Halpern said the resolution was meant to serve only as a “nonbinding” starting point to ensure “continuity” between Perez’s tenure and the next party chair. -Buzzfeed
Top Democrats within the DNC's leadership speaking on condition of anonymity said that they were shocked to learn of the compensation package on the eve of a presidential primary, amid a massive fundraising defecit.
"I think it is completely short-sighted and really stupid," said one senior official.
The package would have paid Perez around $69,000, Nanda around $61,000, and Cornale $39,000.