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Progressive group pushes for ouster of DNC chair

By Ann Marie Awad   |   Updated Jan. 7, 2016 at 3:30 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- The progressive group RootsAction has collected 24,000 signatures in less than five days on a petition calling for the ouster of Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz as head of the Democratic National Committee.

The petition cites Wasserman Schultz's decision to suspend access to voter data for the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in December, following a data breach that allowed Sanders' staffers to access Clinton's data. Sanders' campaign filed a lawsuit in federal court, and the DNC agreed to restore access later that day.

But even before that, Wasserman Schultz and the DNC came under fire for scheduling Democratic presidential debates on weekends, while GOP presidential debates garnered prime-time weeknight slots. The move was seen as another way to ensure Clinton retains her lead by giving Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley smaller audiences.

RootsAction was founded in 2011 by Norman Solomon and Jeff Cohen and in 2012 became active in the WikiLeaks case, asking Ecuador to grant asylum to Wikileaks founder Julian Asange. By the end of 2014, the group claimed to have 1 million members.

Solomon and Cohen released a statement Tuesday about the petition.

"The head of one of the two big political parties in the United States is trying to manipulate the presidential election process by limiting direct debate and tilting the national party apparatus in favor of one candidate," Solomon said in the statement. "This is unacceptable."

"The results, thus far, have been bad from the perspective of Wasserman Schultz's own party, including domination of the media's extensive election coverage by the other big party," Cohen said. "Another result has been reduced exposure for the Democratic candidate polling strongest against Republican rivals, Bernie Sanders."

Progressive support for Wasserman Schultz's ouster has grown since the dust-up over voter data in December. US Uncut, a progressive activist group, accused Wasserman Schultz of violating DNC rules at least five times following the voter data scandal.

Wasserman Schultz has close ties to Clinton, having served as the national co-chair of Clinton's unsuccessful 2008 campaign for the White House.

RootsAction said in its statement that its goal for the petition is 25,000 signatures.

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