Why Are House Dems Treating 2016 Campaign Autopsy Like a Classified Document?

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Why Are House Dems Treating 2016 Campaign Autopsy Like a Classified Document?

Bottom line, says one commentator: "There's no good reason for the secrecy"

The DCCC is treating its internal review like a top-secret document. (Photo: Jeff/flickr/cc)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which works to elect Democrats to the U.S. House, has completed an investigative report into its own weaknesses and blind spots during last year's electoral failure.

With the party hoping to recoup years of losses during the upcoming 2018 mid-term elections, the review could be key to reversing Democrats' dismal fortunes.

There's just one problem: Few people know what the "autopsy" actually says—and the DCCC wants to keep it that way.

According to Politico, "[a]fter nearly five months, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) presented his investigative report to lawmakers during a members-only gathering at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee headquarters Thursday night." Only about two dozen lawmakers showed up, the outlet reports, and they were not permitted to leave with copies of the post-mortem.

The document may only be viewed "under the watchful eyes of DCCC staff," Politico writes.

Furthermore, Politico reports that Maloney's presentation "didn't focus on Democratic messaging and instead was heavily skewed towards money—how much the DCCC brings in, from where and how those funds are spent."

The committee defended its decision to keep the review secret, with a spokeswoman saying, "This analysis is based on strategic information about our organization and meant for internal purposes, not public consumption."

But that argument "is simply not persuasive," Sarah Jones wrote for the New Republic. First of all, "We are talking about a report on the status of the party's congressional campaign arm, not The Book of Kells. Unless it’s written on precious vellum using ink squeezed directly from the hearts of elderly scribes, there's no good reason for the secrecy," Jones said. 

More importantly, Jones added: "This latest incident is another data point in a troubling pattern. At any hint it may be asked to account publicly for its failures, the Democratic Party pulls up its drawbridge and retreats deep into itself. It does not seem to grasp that, as a political party, it has an obligation to be transparent to its supporters. It owes those supporters something. At the moment, it specifically owes them explanations about its weak and miserable state."

Indeed, with many worried that the Democratic leadership has failed to learn valuable lessons from last year's election—nevermind how to apply such lessons to future campaigns—reaction on social media was not kind to the decision to keep the report hidden.

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