LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

— The Democratic race for president unexpectedly exploded with rancor Friday, as Hillary Clinton’s campaign accused rival Bernie Sanders of stealing millions of dollars worth of information about potential voters.

Sanders team, meanwhile, accused the Democratic Party of holding his White House bid hostage by temporarily barring it from accessing its own voter data. His campaign filed a lawsuit to get it back and aggressively tried to turn the allegations into a political advantage.

“This information is really key to our campaign and our strategy,” said Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook. “We are particularly disturbed right now that they are using the fact that they stole data as a reason to raise money for their campaign.”

The reaction to the data breach, the depth of which was debated by all involved, tore open an ugly fault line between two camps that had so far engaged in a relatively civil campaign.

On the eve of the party’s next presidential debate, it also thrust into the open longstanding suspicions among Sanders and his supporters that the national party is unfairly working to support Clinton’s candidacy.

“Clearly, in this case, they are trying to help the Clinton campaign,” an enraged Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said of the Democratic National Committee.

A two-hour Democratic debate is tonight at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., and will air on ABC starting at 8 p.m. It will feature Clinton, Sanders and Martin O'Malley.

DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said that “the Sanders campaign had inappropriately and systematically accessed Clinton campaign data,” rejecting Weaver’s effort to portray the breach as the fault of a software glitch and a small group of rogue staffers.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read or Share this story: http://detne.ws/1lXXo5r