Barney Frank's Appointment To Convention Committee Once Again Rankles Sanders Supporters

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Former Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Barney Frank in Boston, in a 2012 file photo (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Former Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Barney Frank in Boston, in a 2012 file photo (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank will once again play a leading role at the Democratic National Convention this summer — and supporters of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders aren't happy about it.

Frank confirmed to WBUR that over the weekend the Democratic National Committee appointed him to co-chair the convention's rules committee.

Frank served in the same role in 2016. At the time, Sanders formally asked Democratic leadership to remove him.

The Massachusetts Democrat has a long history of criticizing Sanders, telling Slate in 2016 that "Sanders has been in Congress for 25 years with little to show for it in terms of his accomplishments and that’s because of the role he stakes out."

The DNC rejected the Sanders campaign's request to remove Frank from the rules committee that year.

After Frank was again appointed this week, people attached to the Sanders campaign immediately pushed back.

Sanders' national campaign co-chair Nina Turner, in an interview with the  online news show Status Coup, called the appointment of Frank and other Democrats critical of Sanders a "slap in the face."

The Sanders campaign did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Frank is pushing back against suggestions of bias.

"The rules committee just takes the rules that have already been adopted," he told WBUR Wednesday.

"The only thing we have to do is apply the rules fairly, and I frankly don't see what the potential is for any problem there," he added. "I'm puzzled as to what it is people think could happen that would somehow bias the result."

The DNC adopted new rules for this year's Democratic convention in Milwaukee two years ago, which include limiting the influence of superdelegates. Sanders supported the rules change, following the bruising 2016 battle with Hillary Clinton, in which Clinton won the support of many superdelegates.

Frank said his only priority for the convention is to "get a nominee elected in a manner that everybody agrees was legitimate."

This segment aired on January 30, 2020.


Walter Wuthmann General Assignment Reporter
Walter Wuthmann is a general assignment reporter for WBUR.



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