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Democrats’ tech experts fire back at Clinton’s criticism of her own party

Clinton’s comments at the Code Conference about the Democratic National Committee are reopening old wounds.

Hillary Clinton, Code 2017 Asa Mathat

Some of the Democratic Party’s technology and data experts expressed deep frustrations this week after Hillary Clinton appeared to attribute some of her troubles in the 2016 presidential election to the party’s own campaign and fundraising team.

Appearing at the Code Conference on Wednesday, Clinton charged that the Democratic National Committee was “bankrupt” and “on the verge of insolvency” by the time she won the party’s nomination for the White House. “Its data was mediocre to poor, nonexistent, wrong,” Clinton explained. “I had to inject money into it.”

The sharp rebuke certainly drew jeers from Republicans, including Clinton’s victorious opponent, President Donald Trump, who tweeted in response that “crooked Hillary Clinton now blames everybody but herself, refuses to say she was a terrible candidate.”

But it also left some of the Democratic Party’s veteran tech aides scratching their heads.

Josh Hendler, who previously served as the DNC’s tech chief, took to Medium on Friday to lament the fact that Democrats are “attacking each other” — a move, he said, that’s “detracting from other problems the Democratic Party has to confront on the technology and data front over the next few years.”

For example, Hendler said that the DNC has not yet figured out how to “make the best use” of the data-driven groups, apps, tools and other services coming out of Silicon Valley in the wake of Trump’s presidential election victory. Nor, he said, has the DNC offered much leadership in fostering “uniformity around IT infrastructure,” particularly at the state and local levels. That could have major cyber security implications: “People say Russian hackers are coming back, but let’s be honest — they haven’t left,” Hendler wrote.

And Hendler asked the party to take a greater role in “working to set the record straight on fake news and combat[ting] troll armies.” In that respect, at least, he and Clinton appear to share a common aim: The former secretary of state stressed at the Code Conference that Republicans had far outpaced Democrats in generating political content.

Earlier in the week, other DNC veterans similarly expressed unease with Clinton’s criticisms. In tweets that he later deleted, Andrew Therriault, who served as Democrats’ director of data science until 2016, called Clinton’s comments “fucking bullshit.” He said the DNC’s voter models didn’t have Michigan, Wisconsin or Pennsylvania “looking even close to safe,” even though Clinton’s team “thought they knew better.” (Clinton lost all three states.)

In his own series of tweets, John Hagner, who worked on governors’ races for Democrats in 2016, wrote that the data was never the problem:

This article originally appeared on

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