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Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) asks questions during a House Oversight Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on Feb. 27, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

'In Law School They Called This Conflict of Interest': Tlaib Objects to Paid Bloomberg Staffers on DNC Committees

"Out of tens of millions of qualified people, Tom Perez's DNC is seating two Bloomberg campaign surrogates on bodies that can propose changes."

Julia Conley, staff writer

Rep. Rashida Tlaib accused two members of the Democratic National Committee's rules committees of having a conflict of interest following reports that they are paid staffers of the presidential campaign billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City.

The Michigan Democrat tweeted a link late Wednesday to a report by Sludge regarding the recent appointments of Alexandra Rooker, vice chair of the California Democratic Party, to the DNC's Rules Committee, and former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter to the Standing Rules and Bylaws Committee.

Both panels can propose rule changes to the Democratic nominating process, and both Rooker and Nutter began working on Bloomberg's campaign in recent weeks, advising him on policy and other campaign issues.

"Out of tens of millions of qualified people, Tom Perez's DNC is seating two Bloomberg campaign surrogates" on the committees, tweeted David Moore, who wrote for Sludge Wednesday about the appointments.

"In law school, they called this a conflict of interest," wrote Tlaib, a surrogate for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the Democratic race.

The Sludge report came a week after the DNC announced it was amending debate rules to eliminate a requirement for a minimum number of individual donors—a change that could allow Bloomberg to participate in the debate coming up on February 19.

That rule change came directly from Perez, members of the Standing Rules and Bylaws Committee told Sludge—but that panel and the committee Rooker is serving on could make more changes as the primary continues.

The elimination of the fundraising requirement was also announced after Bloomberg donated $320,000 to the DNC in November, as well as $800,000 to a joint PAC that raises funds for the DNC and state Democratic parties.

The change favoring Bloomberg angered some DNC members including Arab American Institute president James Zogby, who told Sludge, "I've been telling people: do not say the DNC decided this, because we did not."

"If I were Cory Booker or Julián Castro, I'd be really pissed right now," Zogby added, referring to the candidates who dropped out of the race in the weeks before the rules change was announced.

In addition to the debate rule that has already been changed, Politico reported last weekend that some DNC members were privately plotting to change other rules, including the manner in which delegates are counted at the party's national convention.

Nomiki Konst, a surrogate for Sanders, applauded Tlaib for calling attention to Bloomberg's paid advisers' membership on the committees—two years after the DNC objected to reforms banning conflicts of interest.

"Let's be clear: all corruption leads to conflicts of interests and lack of oversight," tweeted Konst. "Good on Rashida Tlaib for calling it out!"


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