As the Daily Caller reported Tuesday in the wake of the Iowa caucus debacle, the firm responsible for the technology that caused delays in vote counts is linked to a vast network of Democrat-aligned groups engaged in leftist advocacy. At Capital Research Center, we track the funding and interconnections of these groups on our InfluenceWatch site, where the entry for ACRONYM, the nonprofit owner of Shadow, Inc. which designed the faulty app, reveals many of the ties to Clinton and Obama.
Democrat operatives and their friends in the media immediately dismissed theories that the Iowa app failure was a clever way to rig the system against Bernie Sanders. Again.
This is deeply ironic because not only is the company that created the app linked to a vast lefty funding network – it’s called Arabella Advisors and it’s criminally underreported – but some of the main players, from the founder of Shadow, Inc. to well-known progressive digital media strategists, have proven they love wild conspiracy theories, so long as they involve “Russia collusion” or Donald Trump.
Take, for example, ACRONYM founder Tara McGowan. Her résumé is impressive: She was the digital lead for Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, and later, in 2016, directed digital advertising for Priorities USA Action, the largest Democratic Super PAC. Priorities USA Foundation, the 501(c)(3) arm of the PAC, is well acquainted with the shadowy network run by Arabella, receiving $50,000 in 2017 from the New Venture Fund, one of the primary nonprofits Arabella operates.
Similarly, ACRONYM received $250,000 from the same New Venture Fund in 2018.
Then there are the stories that app vendors and developers working for both parties in Iowa consulted with well-known digital strategists who have reputations as conspiracy-theory peddlers. On the Democrat side, according to the Des Moines Register, Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager, consulted with app companies – presumably including Shadow, Inc. — in Iowa. Mook, according to Lawfare, has the distinction of possibly being one of the first people to suggest that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign may have colluded with Russia.
Then there’s the $75 million digital campaign that Democrats launched along with McGowan — called PACRONYM — specifically to take on Donald Trump. According to Axios, that group was advised by none other than David Plouffe, former campaign manager of President Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Plouffe, who has many claims to fame in his bucket of conspiracy theories, very recently hosted Hillary Clinton herself on his podcast and allowed her to allege that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) was an agent of the Russians. Plouffe is also a board member of ACRONYM.
So while these Democrat operatives take money from a vast network of left-wing propaganda peddlers and have a history of engaging in conspiracy theories themselves, the media now shields them and declares it outlandish and “a conspiracy theory” to wonder if there’s a connection between the Iowa app failures and the marginalization of Bernie Sanders. Never mind some reporting that the company culture at ACRONYM was fraught with open hostility toward the socialist senator from Vermont.
Perhaps the claims of conspiracy against Sanders in Iowa are overblown, but it’s hard to take that claim seriously from people who are heavily involved in what happened in Iowa and have spent their careers engaging in propaganda, spreading conspiracy theories, and perpetrating bad-faith messaging any time it helps their side.
Scott Walter is president of the Capital Research Center in Washington, D.C.