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Billionaire Allegedly Behind A False Flag Operation In Alabama Helped Finance The Group Behind Iowa Caucus Chaos

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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  • Billionaire Reid Hoffman played a role in backing ACRONYM, a nonprofit group behind the app that botched the Iowa caucus vote count. 
  • Hoffman is also partially responsible for financing a Democratic operation in 2017 that was allegedly designed to troll conservative voters in Alabama. 
  • Hoffman’s chief consultant, Dmitri Mehlhorn, provided grants to ACRONYM through a group created to help foster resistance to President Donald Trump.

A billionaire Democratic donor who was partially responsible for financing a false flag operation targeting Republicans provided critical grants to an organization that funded the nonprofit group behind the Iowa caucus chaos.

LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman helped support ACRONYM, a group that funded an app that was supposed to simplify the process of counting votes in Iowa ahead of that state’s caucus. The consultant who directed Hoffman’s funds once praised Russian hackers for their digital prowess.

Instead of helping, the app ACRONYM helped kickstart — Shadow — was responsible for causing massive delays in reporting the results of the Feb. 6 Democratic caucuses. The Iowa Democratic Party did not begin awarding delegates until several days after the initial results flooded in.

Hoffman’s consultant, Dmitri Mehlhorn, directed funds to ACRONYM through a group called Investing in US. Mehlhorn explained in a Medium post in 2018 that Investing in US is designed to help foster “resistance” to President Donald Trump who he said is undermining elections and press freedoms.

Investing in US is a group composed of several wealthy operatives who finance various organizations in 2017.

Mehlhorn said the digital world is the best place to rebut Trump. He told The Washington Post in January 2019 that Democrats can learn a lot from the success of Russia’s Internet Research Agency, which gained notoriety after trolling American voters ahead of the 2016 election. 

“The Internet Research Agency engaged in many, many tactics, some of which I think it is appropriate for us to mirror and some of which I think we should disavow,” he said before excoriating some of the agency’s more deceptive tactics, namely its decision to promote “racial hatred.”

Mehlhorn added: “The tactics we need to mirror are really good social microtargeting.” (RELATED: Mega Anti-Trump GOP Donor Gave PACRONYM More Than $1 Million Because ‘Democracy Is At Stake’)

Carl Voss, Des Moines City Councilman and a precinct chair, shows photographers the app that was used for caucus results reporting on his phone after he unsuccessfully attempted to drop off a caucus results packet from Precinct 55 at the Iowa Democratic Party headquarters February 4, 2020 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Carl Voss, Des Moines City Councilman and a precinct chair, shows photographers the app that was used for caucus results reporting (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Tara McGowan, a digital producer for Obama for America in 2011 and the proprietor behind the group, credited Hoffman and Mehlhorn’s Investing in US initiative, telling her Twitter followers in a December 2018 tweet that they helped get her group get off the ground.

“I’m personally grateful and proud to be included in this group of incredible political founders + startups @reidhoffman and his team, led by Dmitri [Mehlhorn], have supported and helped to fund over the past two years,” she wrote at the time.

McGowan 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. She also backed Virginia Dogwood and Arizona’s Copper Courier that are expected to roll out in Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin, all battleground states.

McGowan has not responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment. Her techniques are similar to those of another group of Democratic operatives funded by Hoffman.

Hoffman became embroiled in controversy after The New York Times and other outlets reported in December 2018 and January 2019 about his alleged role in a misinformation campaign in Alabama. Hoffman, for his part, apologized for his role in the effort to troll voters, and he has never replied to the DCNF’s repeated requests for comment about his role in the troll job.

Hoffman-financed groups — New Knowledge (NK) and American Engagement Technologies (AET) — allegedly used social media in 2017 to undermine support for Republican Roy Moore’s senatorial campaign and boosted his opponent, Democrat Doug Jones, who narrowly won the race. Jones has since publicly called for the Federal Election Commission to investigate the caper.

Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) arrives at the Senate chamber  (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Operatives involved in the ploy created thousands of Twitter accounts posing as Russian bots in order to boost Jones. There is evidence the campaign caused a splash. Major media outlets — in Alabama and nationally — fell for the gambit and amplified the false narrative in October 2017.

The effort was reportedly the subject of a closed-door presentation in Washington, D.C., to a group of 13 liberal technology experts, with Hoffman at the forefront — the participants at the meeting signed nondisclosure agreements, according to WaPo. Hoffman’s funding efforts extended to a group called News for Democracy as well.

News for Democracy ran ads in 2018 touting failed Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke of Texas on a Facebook page targeting evangelical Christians, media reports noted. Another page called “Sounds Like Tennessee” ran at least one ad attacking since-elected Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. The latter page focused primarily on sports and other local issues.

Hoffman has not responded to the DCNF’s request for comment about the nature of his involvement in Investing in US, nor has he commented on his knowledge of ACRONYM’s work with Shadow.

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