The GrayZone takes a deep look at the app used during the Iowa caucuses and its creators which contributed to the Iowa debacle. What follows is a pattern of conflicts of interest and a lot of money flowing between the Iowa Democratic Party, corporate officers and presidential candidates.

On February 7, Push Back host, Aaron Mate, interviews colleague Max Blumenthal, editor of The Grayzone and author of “The Management of Savagery,” to unpack the relationships and dealing that is now becoming public knowledge, thanks in large part to independent media.

Blumenthal describes what he calls, “…a deliberate campaign to deny Bernie Sanders and opening victory that would generate momentum heading into New Hampshire, Nevada, California…”

Blumenthal was able to uncover Tara McGowan, head of ACRYNYM, and her ties to the Obama administration as well as her marriage to a high level Buttigeig staffer. Her funding group, ACRONYM was funded by billionaire Reed Hoffman who mentored Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg.  Hoffman then hired Dmitri Mehlhorn, a political operative who sought to forward questionable communication models from Russian intelligence firms to manipulate social media.

The group, Investing in US, is funded and run by Reed Hoffman and was responsible for running a false flag campaign against Democratic candidate Roy Moore during the contentious Alabama Senate race, complete with purchasing Russian bots. “Project Birmingham” was reported on by The Washington Post when the activity was uncovered in 2019 and found to be using the same disinformation tactics cited as interference in the 2016.

Add to this the connection with Robby Mook, former HRC campaign manager, who was responsible for helping organize and test the Shadow app used in the Iowa Caucus. Mook now denies involvement in developing the app itself. The Des Moines Register says differently in their reporting of per-caucus coverage.

In all, the public is well aware of Iowa Democratic Chair, Troy Price, and his close relationship with McGowan and Shadow staffers and well as the more than $40,000 investment from the Buttigieg campaign. fecreportpete

McGowan herself has tried to distance her nonprofit organization from Shadow, but even editors at Politico are not buying that argument saying, “Other critics acknowledge that McGowan is a talented messenger — but argue she revved up her donors on the idea that her fellow Democrats were not doing enough while getting clobbered by Trump online in order to launch ACRONYM’s $75 million anti-Trump digital program, and then has been slow to spend the money she pledged to bring to the fight.”



The final explanation from Shadow and Iowa Democratic Party Chair, Troy Price, stems from a data posting error from the application to the state party’s database. They did not specify why a simple posting error was not evident during the extensive testing prior to the day of the caucus.

“We have this independent verification step,” Gerard Niemira, the CEO of Shadow Inc., told Motherboard, an online imprint of news website Vice. “In the course of doing that, we had some code that would look at our results database and then move that over to the IDP’s quality control check environment. In the process of doing that, we had some faulty code that took the data and put it into a format that made it fail the checks by the IDP. That was throwing up flags, which took time to resolve.”

However, Protocol journalist, Issie Lapowsky, recalls a far more confident Niemira when they spoke a year ago. Niemira seems almost arrogant and dismissive, citing his designs of revamping the tech used by state parties and is ready to profit from that.

“Niemira was talking specifically about Vertica, a legacy system the Democrats used to house their data. I was writing a story about it for Wired when I called him to talk. At the time, he was working for Acronym, an organization that works on digital strategy for Democrats. Most of our interview wound up on the cutting-room floor, but in one choice quote that made it in, Niemira said Vertica — which he’d encountered working as the director of product for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential run — had been ‘a shitshow from the moment I started there.’ He then eagerly told me how the tools he was working on at the time would help modernize campaigns and Democratic organizations.”


Training or a Lack of Preperation

The failure in tech was only part of the story. Some precincts in Webster County had no trained volunteers to run them. One caucus goer arrived, ready to vote, only to be handed materials for the entire precinct and given basic instruction on how to run the event in a 38-page guide with little instruction on the app itself. iowacaucusrecap

What followed from there was a sense of confusion and community. That is until the results came in under reported, completely wrong, and with a very high level of statistical improbability.

The Warren and Klobuchar campaign noticed the errors first as votes mysteriously  tabulated for Buttigieg, Duval and Steyer, instead of for their own counts. 


Even sites that had fully trained volunteers and no reported issues with the app began to publicly alert the public about discrepancies. Most notably was Black Hawk County where precinct captains and volunteers repeatedly tweeted out the correct count even after the Iowa Democratic Party posted wrong totals for a third time.


iowarecaucusAs the hours turned into days, the tally did not improve.The NY Times reported:

“Nearly a full week after the Iowa caucuses, the state Democratic Party on Sunday released results indicating that Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., was the winner after it updated data from 55 precincts. But errors in the result tabulations have led several news organizations, including The New York Times, to refrain from calling the race.”


Statisticians began looking over re-released data and continued to find anomalies, including errors where Yang votes went to Duval Patrick. In fact, the votes all switched from Yang, Sanders, and Warren to be added tiowaerrorploto Duval Patrick, Pete Buttigieg, and Joe Biden. The statistics for this to have occurred at random intervals is close to a statistical zero probability. This continued while the Iowa Democratic party lawyer pushed back on a formal re-count effort. Both the Sanders and Buttigieg campaigns have sent their own legal teams to monitor the recount effort.

This, the first of primary elections, is reminiscent of the 2016 primary where event Warren and Donna Brazile admitted that the cycle inappropriately favored Hilary Clinton. In her book, Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House, Brazile explains that Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, the very same who spent the months after the 2016 DNC convention suggesting Sanders was lying, was himself covering up the misappropriation of funds, campaign finance transfers, and lavish spending that Mook had negotiated. Brazile described a system of funneling state funds to the “Hilary Victory Fund” which eventually starved out congressional campaigns and prevented some candidates from flipping seats.

An excerpt of her book was published by Politico:

“Right around the time of the convention, the leaked emails revealed Hillary’s campaign was grabbing money from the state parties for its own purposes, leaving the states with very little to support down-ballot races. A Politico story published on May 2, 2016, described the big fund-raising vehicle she had launched through the states the summer before, quoting a vow she had made to rebuild “the party from the ground up … when our state parties are strong, we win. That’s what will happen.”

“Yet the states kept less than half of 1 percent of the $82 million they had amassed from the extravagant fund-raisers Hillary’s campaign was holding, just as Gary had described to me when he and I talked in August. When the Politico story described this arrangement as “essentially … money laundering” for the Clinton campaign, Hillary’s people were outraged at being accused of doing something shady. Bernie’s people were angry for their own reasons, saying this was part of a calculated strategy to throw the nomination to Hillary.”


The start of this primary cycle seems to be off to a poor start as well. On February 12, Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Pierce announced his impending resignation amidst calls from grassroots organizers insistence on accountability. But by this time, Iowa officials were already reporting that Sanders had lost two more delegates in the targeted re-canvas effort.

Feb 13 Update: Hunter Walker, the White House corespondent for Yahoo news, has obtained a copy of the consulting agreement between the Iowa Democratic Party and Shadow with the Democratic National Party as a third party in the agreement. This service agreement seems to contradict DNC Chairman Perez’s assertion that the DNC had nothing to do with implementing the app for the caucus. In fact, the contract details show extensive collaboration and testing by DNC technical personnel in the months leading up to the Iowa caucuses.

The redacted contracted is listed on Scribid here


Progressive Insider will update this developing story as new information becomes available.

British publication Daily Mail questions U.S. caucus coin toss and American acceptance of an obvious botch.

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