Lee Fang, New Details Show How Deeply Iowa Caucus App Developer was Embedded in Democratic Establishment

Lee Fang

emocratic operative Tara McGowan is denying that her high-profile liberal firm ACRONYM played a role in the Monday evening caucus debacle, claiming that her firm was merely an investor in the company Shadow Inc., which developed the app at the center of the controversy. But internal company documents, a source close to the firms, and public records show a close and intertwined relationship between Acronym and Shadow.

In addition, ahead of the caucuses, questions swirled inside Shadow over the company’s ability to deliver a quality product, and there was concern from at least one staff member that senior leaders of Shadow and Acronym — both of which were launched as a new Democratic bulwark against President Donald Trump — have been far from neutral in the Democratic primary.

Throughout the caucus yesterday, Democratic officials reported widespread problems downloading the app and inconsistencies uploading caucus results, leading to the Iowa Democratic Party’s decision to take the unusual step of delaying the release of the results. This is the first year the app was used, and ahead of the caucuses, the Iowa Democratic Party asked that the app’s name be kept secret. The New York Times reported that “its creators had repeatedly questioned the need to keep it secret.”

Kyle Tharp, a spokesperson for Acronym, released a statement on Monday night downplaying his company’s affiliation with Shadow.

“ACRONYM is an investor in several for-profit companies across the progressive media and technology sectors,” Tharp said. “One of those independent, for-profit companies is Shadow, Inc, which also has other private investors.”

David Plouffe, a former campaign manager to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential bid who joined Acronym’s board, also distanced himself from the company during an MSNBC panel last night. “I have no knowledge of Shadow,” said Plouffe. “It was news to me.”

But previous statements and internal Acronym documents suggest that the two companies, which share office space in Denver, Colorado, are deeply intertwined.

Last year, McGowan, a co-founder of Acronym, wrote on Twitter that she was “so excited to announce @anotheracronym has acquired Groundbase,” a firm that included “their incredible team led by [Gerard Niemira] + are launching Shadow, a new tech company to build smarter infrastructure for campaigns.” McGowan also noted that “With Shadow, we’re building a new model incentivized by adoption over growth.” The acquisition was announced in mid-January of last year.

In an interview on a related podcast last month, McGowan described Niemira as “the CEO of Shadow, which is the technology company that Acronym is the sole investor in now.”

What’s more, internal documents from Acronym show a close relationship with Shadow. An internal organizational chart shows digital strategy firm Lockwood Strategy, FWIW Media, and Shadow as part of a unified structure, with Acronym staff involved in the trio’s operations.

In an all-staff email sent last Friday, an official with Lockwood Strategy reminded team members about “COOL THINGS HAPPENING AROUND ACRONYM.” The list included bullets points such as, “The Iowa caucus is on Monday, and the Shadow team is hard at work,” and “Shadow is working on scaling up VAN integration with Shadow Messaging for some Iowa caucus clients.” (VAN refers to the widely used Democratic voter file technology firm.) Acronym staffers also attended the Shadow staff retreat.

A person with knowledge of the company’s culture, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, shared communications showing that top officials at the company regularly expressed hostility to Sen. Bernie Sanders’s supporters. McGowan is married to Michael Halle, a senior strategist with the Buttigieg campaign. There is no evidence any preference of candidates had any effect on the coding issue that is stalling the Iowa results.

Acronym launched with a promise to compete with the Trump campaign’s strong emphasis on digital media, launching Democratic messages through paid advertisements on Facebook and other platforms. But the source said the company in many ways was woefully unprepared for the many challenges it had taken on, including the Iowa caucus app.

A precinct captain for Sanders, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press, confirmed that the rollout was rushed. “We didn’t know about the app until like a month ago. And we didn’t have access to the app until like three days ago,” the source said.

“This app has never been used in any real election or tested at a statewide scale and it’s only been contemplated for use for two months now,” David Jefferson, who also serves on the board of Verified Voting, a nonpartisan election integrity organization, told the New York Times.

Federal campaign finance records show that the Iowa Democratic Party and the Nevada Democratic Party retained Shadow to develop its caucus app. Shadow has also been retained for digital services by Buttigieg’s campaign, which paid the company $42,500 for software-related services last July, and by Joe Biden’s campaign, which paid Shadow $1,225 for text messaging services, last July as well.

Shadow was launched by former staffers to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, including Niemira, Krista Davis, Ahna Rao, and James Hickey, according to professional biographies listed on LinkedIn. Shadow did not respond to a request for comment.

Acronym, which includes a hybrid model of a 501(c)4 entity that does not disclose donors and a Super PAC that does, has been a favorite for deep-pocketed Democratic donors. Donald Sussman, the founder of Paloma Partners, and Michael Moritz, a partner at Sequoia Capital, each donated $1 million to Acronym last year. Filmmaker Steven Spielberg gave $500,000. Investor Seth Klarman, once a major donor to Republican causes, gave $1.5 million to Acronym.

Acronym appears to have deleted portions of its website showcasing its involvement in Shadow. “ACRONYM is thrilled to announce the launch of Shadow, a new technology company that will exist under the ACRONYM umbrella and build accessible technological infrastructure and tools to enable campaigns to better harness, integrate and manage data across the platforms and technologies they all use,” wrote Niemira in a now-deleted blog post.

This morning, William McCurdy II, the chair of the Nevada Democratic Party, released a statement announcing that the party will not be using the Shadow app for its February caucus.

“NV Dems can confidently say that what happened in the Iowa caucus last night will not happen in Nevada on February 22nd. We will not be employing the same app or vendor used in the Iowa caucus,” said McCurdy. “We had already developed a series of backups and redundant reporting systems, and are currently evaluating the best path forward.”


+8# librarian1984 2020-02-05 10:21

In the face of facts like these, the media and politicians are calling us conspiracy theorists, a term created by the CIA to discredit critics.

The establishment and corporate media are working 24/7 to stop Sanders. Pay close attention. This is the moment.

These people don’t care if fair elections are destroyed. They don’t care if the party is destroyed. They don’t care if children are hungry, genocide is occurring or the planet is on fire.

All they care about is their own wealth and power.

+5# Rodion Raskolnikov 2020-02-05 10:42

I don’t think what happened was a breakdown in the APP. I think things happened just as they were planned. In fact, the 2020 Iowa caucuses turned out just like they did in 2016. Back then, Hillary for some reason was given the majority of delegates while Sanders polled a majority of votes. No explanation was given and no final count of the actual votes was ever released. Hillary was given the majority of delegates and so she was declared the winner.

Now the same thing has happened with Buttigeig. With only 62% of votes counted, he has a majority of delegates while Sanders has a majority of the votes. It is very likely that there will be no more counts.

The noise about a software glitch is just to make people shut up and ask no questions. No one really understands software glitches.

But we do know something. We are being told that the turnout of caucus goers was smaller, much smaller than expected. This is flatly not true. Eye witnesses say that caucus participation was huge. The Shadow software was able to recognize people who had not participated in a caucus before (i.e., young people) and only accept a number of them predicted by the model in the software. Think about that: the software was loaded with the profiles of all registered voters. It also had a model of how voters would turn out. It rejected instances where reality did not match its model and voters who did not fit its profile.

+1# Rodion Raskolnikov 2020-02-05 12:06

Just to finish up the point I was making. In order to give the Iowa race to Buttigeig, it is necessary to claim that Sanders supporters simply did not show up at the caucuses. And this is exactly what the elite media is reporting:

Here’s NBC:

“Iowa caucuses turnout: Entrance poll shows dip in first-timers”

The photo shows a room full of empty chairs with a handful of middle-agers standing around. The article claims that younger people turned out at less than half of what was expected. The article claims that turnout was lower than 2016 and 2008. New caucus goers (i.e., young people) account for the lower rates.

This means Sanders supporters, these these young “no-shows,” went to all the Sanders events but they failed to show up and vote. This is just false. It is contradicted by reports from first hand witnesses who were at caucuses. They were filled with younger voters. The turn out what “huge.”

It also means that all of the efforts of the 1000s of Sanders supporters who came to Iowa in the last few days to help with the “ground game” of voter turn out just failed miserably.

The low turnout scenario is being put out by Shadow, Inc. It’s software apparently automatically dis-allowed a certain number of new caucus goers.

There needs to be an investigation of this whole mess.

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12 thoughts on “Lee Fang, New Details Show How Deeply Iowa Caucus App Developer was Embedded in Democratic Establishment”

  1. Regarding the Iowa Democrat caucus vote count,


    On this two minute, ten second video clip…

    Aside from emphasizing two or three times that what Pelosi did in mutilating an official government document and that was a breaking of the law, I understood Trump to say @ 1:43 “I think they fried their votes on computer.” That means Trump is saying that those responsible for the counting of the votes for the Iowa Democrat caucus deliberately “fried” or totally distorted the real vote count data, thus telling us he does not buy the incompetency theory where the Democrats just could not manage to get a good quality app and get quality data.

    1. I see NO EXCUSE for Trump not revamping the entire voting system in the next few months….which should have started THREE damn years ago. What the hell is the problem? Does anyone here care about whether or not they have actual proof their vote is counted?
      I have said it many, many times….until we have a paper ballot, verifiable, independently counted with several copies going to different entities where all the totals must agree, there is absolutely no sense in casting a ballot. IF you believe otherwise, please post your opinion. This is not a minor problem. Electronic voting has compromised the very essence of this representative Republic.

  2. Hope not too far off topic but thought this funny, in a very un-funny way.


    Californians who register to vote would be required to cast ballots under new bill
    By John Myers, Los Angeles Times
    18 hrs ago

    [share via email]
    Oscar Best Picture winner from the year you were born
    Trump fans flooded caucus hotline, Dems say

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Following a series of sweeping actions to expand access to voting in recent years, a California lawmaker is pushing to require voters to cast a ballot in future elections.

    The proposal, introduced in the state Assembly on Tuesday, would be unprecedented and probably challenged in court should it ultimately become law. It would place the burden for determining the civil penalty and the ultimate punishment on the secretary of state, California’s chief elections officer.

    “Democracy is not a spectator sport — it requires the active participation of all its citizens,” the bill’s author, Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, said in a written statement. “California is a national leader on expanding voting rights to its citizens. Those rights come with a responsibility by registered voters to cast their ballot and make sure that their voice is heard by their government.” SNIP

  3. The Dim-O-Craps are screwing Bernie again. Plain as day. So corrupt and morally bankrupt some of them are advocating post birth abortion (murdering live babies). The same party that inspired Seattle is Dying documentary controls San Francisco (human feces on sidewalks capitol of Earth) and LA (largest skid row on Earth). Those are Shiff’s and Pelosi’s hoods. They solve nothing because they do nothing. In Seatle, police don’t enforce laws anymore. Addicts have been arrested 78 and 83 times are still out on the streets causing mayhem. If you have not seen Seattle is Dying, You need to. This is the Dim-O-Craps creation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpAi70WWBlw

      1. Still watching that vid….but what’s going on in Seattle, LA, San Fran and wherever else is beyond outrageous. So, now we know, the way to bring down a system….or at least to compromise it beyond the point at which it is functional…..is to use your numbers, your ‘handicap’, your addiction and your situation and wait for intervention. Apparently it works, since the bureaucracy is YIELDING to the numbers. It has no choice.
        It MUST do something to alleviate or hopefully eradicate the problem.
        I strongly disagree replacing one drug with another, but this is indicative of the western system of medicine. …symptomatic relief. It’s a stop gap answer that weakens the human condition making these individuals totally dependent upon the very system from which they had to leave. DO NOT think this is accidental.
        BUT, numbers work…and until the day I leave this earth, I will believe we have failed to use that advantage to initiate serious change in this country.

  4. Dear Jim and the Gang:

    This image is a metaphor for the self destruction of the radical left in Iowa

    I feel like today is a new Thanksgiving. Trump for all his warts has prevailed when so many around him were treacherous demons plotting his demise. Trump has become a super hero of epic proportions, to prevail under the circumstances. He foiled this attack masterfully. He exposed the traitorous elements by keeping the swamp creatures close and letting them destroy themselves. Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) is a real medical condition. I have personally experienced this with a guy I have known since first grade. The big difference between he and I ? he was Jesuit educated in secondary school. The programming is impenetrable. He thinks Joe Biden is a Saint, even with evidence to the contrary in Joe’s own words a the CFR bragging how powerfully he blackmailed the Ukraine to drop the investigation. I linked Creepy Joe’s fondeling girls highlight reel and it makes not a dent in his liberal armor.

    Everything the swamp has done to take Trump down has galvanized his base and made moderates sympathetic enough to vote Trump because the alternative is so vile and conniving. The heart and soul of this country, the people that work the land own construction companies, commercial fisherman, plumbers, loggers, the Joe sixpacks of this realm… to you picture a single one voting dim-O-crap ? Not a snowball’s chance in hell. The fly-over country is bleeding deep red today.

    Re-electing Trump is just part of defeating the radical left trying destroy this country. We need to take back the house and increase the Senate majority. Check out this effort to take back the house. https://www.starsandstripesforeverpac.org/taking-back-the-house/


  5. I like what Huey P. Long said about voting…

    “You give me a couple of elections commissioners and I’ll make those lever machines sing Home Sweet Home.”

    1. The Raw Deal last night had some superb info.
      And in regard to voting in general, I will NEVER vote until we have a legitimate voting process….paper ballots…verifiable….many copies…independently counted. Until then, you have NO IDEA your vote is counted.

  6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Klm09Vpq7JQ

    1:09:39 video rundtime

    Good discussion on Iowa Caucus

    Iowa Democratic Debacle: Is Trump Running Against a Bunch of Zeros?
    •Streamed live on Feb 4, 2020

    Today on TruNews we discuss the circus of incompetence performed in Iowa during the Democratic party’s Caucus and the failed Israeli-connected app funded by Zionist billionaire Seth Klarman. Rick Wiles, Edward Szall, Doc Burkhart. Airdate 02/04/20


    begin of discussion @ 9:15

    27:35 the ap

    44:05 Seth Klarman

    1. If Bloomberg is running only to defeat Trump…he had better run in the other direction, because no way in hell will that happen. The man is a wealthy dud.


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