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The Hillary Minions Behind the Iowa App Disaster

The machinations of the old Democratic establishment are now beyond parody.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to the audience at the annual convention of the American Federation of Teachers Friday, July 13, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

If a fiction writer approached an editor with the story of what just happened in Iowa, he would be summarily dismissed for absurdity. Yet here we are. The machinations of the DNC are now beyond parody.

For the first time ever, the Iowa caucuses failed to yield any kind of tally the day they occurred, as the app that was used to count the results failed due to a “coding issue.” The Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) allegedly found “inconsistencies” in the three sets of results it had promised to deliver, and then announced that it needed time to conduct “quality control.” Iowa Democrats refused an offer from the Department of Homeland Security to test the app and ensure its security before the caucuses, even after they were warned by local officials last week that there were “serious problems with the app.”

The board of the company that developed the app (un-ironically titled Shadow, Inc.) is packed with Democratic establishment figures and the CEO of the company is a Pete Buttigieg supporter. Buttigieg was the only candidate who confidently declared victory Monday night, even after a poll conducted beforehand showed him losing in Iowa.

The candidate who was the winner in that poll, Bernie Sanders, has been notoriously shunned by the Democratic establishment. Leaked emails showed that the DNC favored Hillary Clinton over Sanders during the 2016 contest. Back then, Clinton somehow managed to win all six of her Iowa caucus coin tosses.

After the numbers from the 2020 Iowa caucuses were not available Monday night, the party announced that 62 percent of precincts at 5 p.m.—as for the other half, well, state party chairman Troy Price declined to provide any timeline at all.

On Tuesday morning, these hashtags were trending on Twitter: #rigged, #RiggedElection, #TomPerezResign, #DNCRigging, #DNCisCorrupt, #CIAPete, and #MayorCheat.

Des Moines County Democratic Chairman Tom Courtney said in precincts across his county, including his own, that the mobile app was “a mess,” and when precinct leaders called Democratic Party headquarters, “they weren’t answering the phones.”

“We had had so many complaints about the app that we started telling our chairs that if they were having problems with the app then you should call in the results,” Sean Bagniewski, chairman of the Polk County Democratic Party, told The Washington Post. But “officials reportedly received no training on how to use the app, struggled to download it or log in, and were placed on hold for as long as two hours when they tried to call the result in via a hotline when the app failed.”

Jonathan Green, who chaired a precinct in Lone Tree, said when he tried to put the results into the reporting app, he kept getting an error message. He ultimately gave up and tried to call the results in, but like the others, was put on hold. It “took hours to report results from his small site,” reports The Washington Post.

In frustration, one precinct captain posted the results on Twitter; another waited for over an hour on hold, only to be hung up on by the party on live television as CNN listened in to the call.

After Buttigieg finished what sounded like a victory speech Monday night in Iowa and the Iowa Democratic Party announced it wouldn’t release results until Tuesday, a frustrated Bernie Sanders campaign decided to release the numbers it had collected from nearly 40 percent of precincts, tabulated by campaign organizers. Its internal polling showed Sanders receiving 29.7 percent of the vote, followed by Buttigieg at 24.6 percent, Senator Elizabeth Warren at 21.2 percent, and former vice president Joe Biden a distant fourth at 12.4 percent.

Naturally, questions abound about the app and the company behind its development. The Iowa Democratic Party would not confirm who developed the app, and at first the Nevada Democratic Party followed suit. But assiduous reporters discovered from FEC filings that it was created by the secretive Shadow, Inc., a tech firm run by veterans of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

“Shadow started out as Groundbase, a tech developer co-founded by Gerard Niemira and Krista Davis, who worked for the tech team on Clinton’s campaign for the 2016 Democratic nomination,” reports the LA Times. Gerard Niemira, CEO of Shadow Inc., was previously the head of product for the Hillary for America campaign and also the previous CTO for ACRONYM, a Democratic nonprofit founded in 2017 “to educate, inspire, register, and mobilize voters,” according to its website.

Shadow Inc. “is an appendage of ‘dark money’ group ACRONYM and has ‘other private investors,'” Anna Massoglia at Open Secrets notes.

Former Obama advisor David Plouffe sits on ACRONYM’s board, and Hillary Clinton praised the company three months ago.

Campaign finance records show that the Iowa Democratic Party paid $63,000 to Shadow Inc. in late 2019, and the Nevada state party paid them $58,000 in August. Oh, and also, Pete Buttigieg contributed $42,500 to Shadow Inc. in July.

That’s important, because despite being behind in the polls, Buttigieg was the only candidate to confidently declare victory Monday night. And Buttigieg strategist Michael Halle is married to the head of ACRONYM, former Obama campaign worker Tara McGowan.

Bernie Sanders surrogate Shaun King tweeted:

This right? The poll that has been released right before the election in Iowa for 76 years straight was scrapped because Pete’s team complained. And Pete’s team funded the company that built the failed election app in Iowa. And Pete declared victory before results released?

Late Tuesday afternoon, the Daily Beast tried to do damage control, dismissing such criticism as “conspiracy theories.” The Buttigieg campaign claims that, like the Biden campaign, it paid Shadow for “text messaging services,” reports the Beast.

But the Biden campaign only paid Shadow $1,225; Buttigieg paid over 34 times that.

And Shadow and ACRONYM have changed how they described their working partnership, and that their website had deleted a list of investors and portfolio companies overnight, as the The Daily Beast also noted.

After all these shenanigans, it’s hard to believe that many Democrats will accept the eventual tally out of Iowa, especially given that it will be proffered by the same people who spent the last three and a half years blaming Trump’s win in 2016 on Russian interference.

about the author

Barbara Boland is TAC’s foreign policy and national security reporter. Previously, she worked as an editor for the Washington Examiner and for CNS News. She is the author of Patton Uncovered, a book about General George Patton in World War II, and her work has appeared on Fox News, The Hill UK Spectator, and elsewhere. Boland is a graduate from Immaculata University in Pennsylvania.  Follow her on Twitter @BBatDC.

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