July 25, 2016 at 11:45 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Gay DNC officials’ emails part of massive WikiLeaks release

Democratic National Committee Treasurer Andrew Tobias  (Blade file photo by Michael Key).

Emails to and from gay DNC Treasurer Andy Tobias are among those leaked over the weekend. (Blade file photo by Michael Key).

Dozens of email messages sent and received by at least four openly gay officials with the Democratic National Committee were among more than 19,000 private DNC email messages released last Friday by the cyber protest group WikiLeaks.

The massive leak included numerous emails showing that high-level DNC officials appeared to be helping Hillary Clinton over rival Bernie Sanders during the Democratic presidential primaries earlier this year.

None of the emails reviewed by the Washington Blade associated with the gay officials — DNC Treasurer Andy Tobias, DNC LGBT Engagement Director Sean Meloy, DNC National Finance Committee Chairman Henry Munoz, and DNC LGBT Caucus Chair Earl Fowlkes — were linked to the alleged efforts to undermine the Sanders campaign.

But the leaked emails appearing to show that other high-level DNC staffers were helping Clinton at the expense of Sanders led to the resignation on Sunday of DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

The revelations also triggered expressions of outrage among many of Sanders’ supporters and threatened to disrupt plans by Democrats for a show of party unity at this week’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Controversy surrounding the leaked emails was heightened over the weekend when Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, cited experts in the field of computer hacking who said the DNC’s servers were breached by Russian intelligence agencies. Mook went further by arguing that the Russian government arranged for the release of the emails on the eve of the Democratic convention to embarrass Clinton and to support Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

The Trump campaign immediately denounced that claim, calling it baseless and accusing the Clinton campaign of attempting to “smear” Trump.

Most of the emails linked to Tobias, Meloy, Munoz and Fowlkes, who also serves as president of D.C.’s Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, addressed routine efforts to raise money for the Democrats and reach out to LGBT voters and party donors.

However, one of the emails received by Tobias from Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager, appeared to create a stir among other DNC officials to whom the email was forwarded.

“Andy – I want to share something with you that is probably going to make you angry, but then I want to give you an opportunity to do something about it,” Weaver told Tobias in his May 3, 2016 email.

Weaver pointed to a story published by Politico that claimed most of the money raised by a political fund created by the Clinton campaign called the Hillary Victory Fund, which was intended to raise money for state Democratic Party organizations for the November general election, was being used to support Clinton’s primary campaign against Sanders.

“Here’s your chance to send a message about our distaste for big-money in politics,” Weaver told Tobias in the email. “Sign our petition calling on the Clinton campaign to stop bending campaign finance rules to their breaking point, and immediately transfer all the money allowable to the state parties participating in the Hillary Victory Fund,” Weaver wrote.

No email could be found in the collection of emails released by WikiLeaks consisting of a response by Tobias to Weaver. But at least one email from Tobias to three other DNC officials asks whether the DNC finance division was aware of Weaver’s allegations.

“Seems awfully unfair and inaccurate,” Tobias said in his email to the other officials.

“This is beyond inaccurate,” said Amy Dacey, the DNC’s Chief Executive Officer, in her reply to Tobias. “I think we need a more aggressive approach to push back on what is just total MISINFORMATION,” she wrote. “Can we have an internal discussion on what needs to happen here? We can’t let this continue on.”

A follow-up email on Dacey’s call for addressing the matter couldn’t immediately be found.

Tobias’s reputation as a dedicated fundraiser for the DNC surfaced in a separate email from him on May 18, 2016, in which he asks Munoz and DNC supporter Stephen Bittel to consider not attending a scheduled June 8 DNC fundraising dinner in Manhattan. President Obama was the guest of honor at the event, which was held at a private home.

“I haven’t seen POTUS [the president] in several months and so was planning to go to the June 8 dinner, right up the street from me,” Tobias said in his email. “[B]ut happily it’s going to be literally sold out so each non-paying attendee costs us ten grand,” he said. “So I’m going to skip it — Ka-Ching! – and invite you to do the same if you think that makes sense. Big hugs all around.”

In separate emails, Meloy addressed a concern raised by Munoz about whether the DNC and Meloy’s LGBT Engagement division were reaching out to LGBT young people and young people in general to ensure that they vote for the Democratic presidential nominee and other Democratic candidates in the states in the November general election.

In his response, Meloy pointed to the DNC’s Millennial Engagement Plan, which he said he would forward to those raising the issue of reaching out to young voters.

“I’m also of the belief that LGBT issues could help bring in some of the voters they are concerned about losing, considering millennials are very strong allies and refuse to support anti-LGBT candidates,” Meloy said in his reply.

A WikiLeaks website page devoted to the leaked DNC emails includes a search box that allows viewers of the site to enter a name to determine whether or how many emails were received or sent by that person. Upon entering the names of the four gay DNC officials, the site reveals the officials received, sent, or were the subject of these numbers of emails:

Andy Tobias: 271
Sean Meloy: 121
Henry Munoz: 85
Earl Fowlkes: 38

The four, who were expected to attend the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

In a statement on its site, WikiLeaks says most of the 19,252 leaked DNC emails came from the accounts of seven key DNC figures, one of whom is identified as the DNC’s Finance Chief of Staff Scott Comer.

The DNC website says Comer also serves as the DNC’s LGBT Finance Director.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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