Clinton campaign veterans run firm that built the disastrous Iowa caucus phone app

By Chuck Ross and Chris White

The firm behind the phone app that caused delays in reporting the results of the Iowa Democratic caucus is operated by three Hillary Clinton campaign veterans.

The firm has also done business during the 2020 election cycle with Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s campaign.

Iowa Democrats intended to use the app, created by Shadow Inc., to make it easier for the state’s 1,700-odd precincts to report the results of their individual caucuses. But officials at precincts across the state reported that they had trouble operating the app and submitting the voting data.

The Iowa Democratic Party, which said that it may have the results of the caucus available by Tuesday, had kept the identity of the app creator a secret in recent weeks as cyber security experts have questioned whether the technology was vulnerable to hackers.

Phil Roeder/Flickr

Caucusgoers gather at the Des Moines 61 precinct for the 2020 Democratic caucus, at Merrill Middle School.

HuffPost, citing multiple Democratic sources and campaign finance records, reported amid the caucus chaos late Monday that Shadow Inc. was behind the app. ACRONYM, a Democrat-linked technology and campaign consulting nonprofit group, owns Shadow Inc.

Shadow Inc.’s website has scant information about the firm and its employees. But a review of social media accounts shows that three of the Washington, D.C.-based firm’s top executives worked on the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign.

The CEO of Shadow Inc., Gerard Niemira, was the director of product on Clinton’s campaign, his LinkedIn profile says.

Ahna Rao, the product manager for Shadow Inc., was the special assistant to the chief technology officer on Clinton’s campaign, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Krista Davis, the chief technology officer at Shadow, was a software engineer on Clinton’s campaign, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Campaign finance records show that several state Democratic parties and multiple presidential candidates have paid Shadow Inc. for tech services.

Iowa state campaign finance reports show that the Iowa Democratic Party paid Shadow Inc. $44,666 on Nov. 15 and $18,517 on Dec. 6.

The Nevada State Democratic Party paid Shadow $58,000 on Aug. 27, 2019, for technology services, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Buttigieg’s campaign paid Shadow $42,250 on July 23, 2019, for software rights.

The former South Bend mayor came under some criticism Monday for declaring himself victorious despite the dearth of results.

Tech firm behind Iowa caucus disaster also played role in creating a covert Dem propaganda media outfit

The firm responsible for the app that caused delays in counting votes during Monday’s Iowa caucuses had a role in developing an outlet promoting Democratic propaganda outlets ahead of the 2020 election.

Campaign consulting nonprofit ACRONYM owns Shadow Inc., a company that operates the app Democrats hoped would simplify the process of counting the votes in Iowa’s roughly 1,700 precincts. Officials across the state struggled to use the app, leaving the results of the caucuses in limbo.

HuffPost, citing campaign finance records, reported out ACRONYM’s role in the debacle late Monday night. 

Tara McGowan, a digital producer for Obama for America in 2011 and the proprietor behind ACRONYM, raised at least $25 million from wealthy liberals to create a media company called Courier Newsroom that is designed to deliver information favorable to Democrats.

Courier is rolling out newspapers in swing states to counter what McGowan believes is right-wing spin on Facebook and across the digital domain.

McGowan plans on spending roughly $75 million on digital ads to rebut what Democrats believe is President Donald Trump’s insurmountable edge in battleground states, Bloomberg Businessweek reported in November.

Along with the Courier Newsroom, McGowan is also creating Virginia Dogwood and Arizona’s Copper Courier, among others that are expected to roll out in Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin, all battleground states.

The Dogwood, for its part, publishes articles that appear to be local in an effort to help develop trust among readers in the area.

McGowan explained to Bloomberg Businessweek how her operations work.

“Everybody who clicks on, likes, or shares an article … we get that data back to create a lookalike audience to find other people with similar attributes in the same area. So we continually grow our ability to find people,” said McGowan, a former journalist who worked for CBS News.

Objective journalism no long exists, McGowan said, noting that 2020 is a time for reinvention.

“A lot of people I respect will see this media company as an affront to journalistic integrity because it won’t, in their eyes, be balanced,” McGowan noted. “What I say to them is, Balance does not exist anymore, unfortunately.”

She added: “We’re losing the information war to verified liars pouring millions of dollars into Facebook.”

Another alum of former President Barack Obama’s campaigns is joining her agenda. David Plouffe, who managed Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, recently joined Acronym’s board.

Neither Plouffe nor McGowan have responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment through the Acronym website. They have not yet answered questions about the ethical problems associated with producing journalistic content nor have they discussed their company’s role in creating Shadow.

The Iowa Democratic Party paid Shadow Inc. $44,666 on Nov. 15, 2019 and $18,517 on Dec. 6, 2019, according to Iowa state campaign finance reports. The Nevada State Democratic Party also gave the company $58,000 on Aug. 27, 2019, Federal Election Commission records show.

Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign also plowed $42,250 into Shadow’s coffers in July 2019.

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Image courtesy of Phil Roeder/Flickr

2 thoughts on “Clinton campaign veterans run firm that built the disastrous Iowa caucus phone app

  1. If a firm came to me with referencds that included working on Hillary’s campaign, I’d run for the hills. These folks are scary!!!!

  2. I seem to recall something about a Clinton or Obama connection to the firm that created the disastrous opening signup for Obama’s ACA for about a half million taxpayer’s dollars. Do they do this on purpose or is this the best they can do?

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