Email: Clinton camp tipped off on Flint debate question

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Donna Brazile gave the Hillary Clinton campaign a heads-up on a potential question from a Flint resident at a March Democratic primary debate in the beleaguered city, according to an email published shortly before CNN announced it had parted ways with its former contributor.

“One of the questions directed to HRC tomorrow is from a woman with a rash,” Brazile allegedly wrote in a March 5 email to John Podesta, chairman of Clinton’s presidential campaign. “Her family has lead poison and she will ask what, if anything, will Hillary do as president to help the ppl of Flint.”

The email, dated one day before a CNN debate in Flint between Clinton and Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, was published Monday by WikiLeaks, which has been releasing documents from a previous hack of Podesta’s account.

Brazile at the time was working for CNN as a Democratic contributor. The network said it suspended her from that role in July when she became interim director of the Democratic National Committee.

“Folks, I did a service project today. It’s so tragic,” continued her email, sent from a Brazile Associates account. “And what’s worse, some homes have not been tested and it’s important to encourage seniors to also get tested.”

The Flint debate included questions from multiple residents, including Lee-Anne Walters, whom CNN host Anderson Cooper introduced by noting one of her daughters had lost her hair.

Walters asked both Democratic candidates — Sanders first — whether they would require all public water systems in the country to remove lead service lines like those linked to the drinking water contamination in Flint.

Brazile’s Flint email was the second of its kind that has fueled accusations she used her access at CNN to aid Clinton during her primary fight with Sanders, who is scheduled to campaign for the former secretary of state Wednesday in Michigan.

A spokesman said Monday CNN “never gave Brazile access to any questions, prep material, attendee list, background information or meetings” before a town hall or debate and noted the network accepted her resignation on Oct. 14.

“We are completely uncomfortable with what we have learned about her interactions with the Clinton campaign while she was a CNN contributor,” Lauren Pratapas said in a statement.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has raised alarms over potential election “rigging,” jumped on the latest WikiLeaks email Monday as he rallied supporters in Michigan.

“(Brazile) should be fired from the DNC,” Trump said during a Grand Rapids-area event. “Could you imagine if I did that? What would happen if I did that? Electric chair, I think.”

Walters, who has emerged as a prominent local activist during the Flint water crisis, confirmed Tuesday on Fox News that she has had a water-related rash since June of 2014 and said she was “disgusted” that Clinton may have gotten her debate question early.

“I feel she should be disqualified because it gave her an advantage she shouldn’t have had,” Walters said.

The Associated Press contributed.