billionaire Seth Klarman Buttigieg Iowa caucus Shadow app Israel
Hedge-fund billionaire Seth Klarman funds both the Pete Buttigieg campaign and Shadow Inc, the firm run by former Clinton staff that created the app behind the Iowa caucus disaster

Billionaire pro-Israel Buttigieg backer Seth Klarman funds group behind Iowa’s disastrous voting app

Behind the app that delayed Iowa’s voting results is a dark money operation funded by anti-Bernie Sanders billionaires. Its top donor Seth Klarman is a Buttigieg backer who has dumped money into pro-settler Israel lobby groups.

By Max Blumenthal

At the time of publication, 12 hours after voting in the Democratic Party’s Iowa caucuses ended, the results have not been announced. The delay in reporting is the result of a failed app developed by a company appropriately named Shadow Inc.

This firm was staffed by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaign veterans and created by a Democratic dark money nonprofit backed by hedge-fund billionaires including Seth Klarman. A prolific funder of pro-settler Israel lobby organizations, Klarman has also contributed directly to Pete Buttigieg’s campaign.

The delay in the vote reporting denied a victory speech to Senator Bernie Sanders, the presumptive winner of the opening contest in the Democratic presidential primary. Though not one exit poll indicated that Buttigieg would have won, the South Bend, Indiana mayor took to Twitter to confidently proclaim himself the victor.

The bizarre scenario was made possible by a mysterious voting app whose origins had been kept secret by Democratic National Committee officials. For hours, it was unclear who created the failed technology, or how it wound up in the hands of Iowa party officials.

Though a dark money Democratic operation turned out to be the source of the disastrous app, suspicion initially centered on former Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook and his Russiagate-related elections integrity initiative.

Leveraging Russia hysteria into lucrative election opportunities

While Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price refused to say who was behind the failed app, he told NPR that he “worked with the national party’s cybersecurity team and Harvard University’s Defending Digital Democracy project…” Price did not offer details on his collaboration with the Harvard group, however.

The New York Times reported that this same outfit had teamed up with Iowa Democrats to run a “drill of worst-case scenarios” and possible foreign threats, but was also vague on details.

Robby Mook, the former campaign manager for Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 presidential campaign, was the co-founder of Defending Digital Democracy. His initiative arose out of the national freakout over Russian meddling that he and his former boss helped stir when they blamed their loss on Russian interference. Mook’s new outfit pledged to “protect from hackers and propaganda attacks.”

He founded the organization with help from Matt Rhoades, a former campaign manager for Republican Mitt Romney whose public relations company was sued by a Silicon Valley investor after it branded him “an agent of the Russian government” and “a friend of Russian President, Vladimir Putin.” Rhoades’ firm had been contracted by a business rival to destroy the investor’s reputation.

As outrage grew over the delay in Iowa caucus results, Mook publicly denied any role in designing the notorious app.

Hours later, journalist Lee Fang reported that a previously unknown tech outfit called Shadow Inc. had contracted with the Iowa Democratic Party to create the failed technology. The firm was comprised of former staffers for Obama and Clinton as well as the tech industry, and had been paid for “software rights” by the Buttigieg campaign.

Shadow Inc Pete Buttigieg Iowa caucus app
FEC filings show the Iowa Democratic Party and Pete Buttigieg campaign paid Shadow Inc., which developed the flawed app used in the Iowa caucus

An Israel lobby moneyman’s path to Mayor Pete’s wine cave

Shadow Inc. was launched by a major Democratic dark money nonprofit called Acronym, which also gave birth to a $7.7 million Super PAC known as Pacronym.

According to Sludge, Pacronym’s largest donor is Seth Klarman. A billionaire hedge funder, Klarman also happens to be a top donor to Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar.

Though he has attracted some attention for his role in the campaign, Klarman’s prolific funding of the pro-settler Israel lobby and Islamophobic initiatives has gone almost entirely unmentioned.

Seth Klarman is the founder of the Boston-based Baupost Group hedge fund and a longtime donor to corporate Republican candidates. After Donald Trump called for forgiving Puerto Rico’s debt, Klarman – the owner of $911 million of the island’s bonds – flipped and began funding Trump’s opponents.

The billionaire’s crusade against Trump ultimately led him to Mayor Pete’s wine cave.

By the end of 2019, Klarman had donated $5,600 to Buttigieg and pumped money into the campaigns of Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris as well.

The billionaire’s support for centrist candidates appears to be not only about his own financial interests, but also his deep and abiding ideological commitment to Israel and its expansionist project.

As I reported for Mondoweiss, Klarman has been a top funder for major Israel lobby outfits, including those that support the expansion of illegal settlements and Islamophobic campaigns.

Klarman was the principal financier of The Israel Project, the recently disbanded Israeli government-linked propaganda organization that lobbied against the Iran nuclear deal and backed the Israeli settlement enterprise.

Klarman has heaped hundreds of thousands of dollars on the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) and the American Jewish Committee. And he funded The David Project, which was established to suppress Palestine solidarity organizing on college campuses across the US and battled to block the establishment of a Muslim community center in Boston.

Through his support for the Friends of Ir David Inc., Klarman directly involved himself in the Israeli settlement enterprise, assisting the US-based tax-exempt arm of the organization that oversaw a wave of Palestinian expulsions in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.

Other pro-Israel groups reaping the benefits of Klarman’s generosity include Birthright Israel, the AIPAC-founded Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), a neoconservative think tank that helped devise Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign of economic warfare on Iran.

Klarman is the owner of the Times of Israel, an Israeli media outlet that once published a call for Palestinian genocide. (The op-ed was ultimately removed following public backlash.)

In recent weeks, Buttigieg has sought to distinguish himself from Sanders on the issue of Israel-Palestine. During a testy exchange this January with a self-proclaimed Jewish supporter of Palestinian human rights, the South Bend mayor backtracked on a previous pledge to withhold military aid to Israel if it annexed parts of the West Bank.

Another recipient of Klarman’s funding, Amy Klobuchar, has taken a strongly pro-Israel line, vowing to support Trump’s relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Klarman’s interest in Israel has apparently led him to support regime change in Syria. In 2017, the pro-Israel billionaire’s foundation donated $100,000 to the Syrian American Medical Society, a US-based non-profit that has lobbied aggressively for US intervention in Syria while partnering on the ground with foreign-backed extremists that occupied large swaths of the country.

Seth Klarman foundation funds Syrian American Medical Society SAMS
The Klarman Family Foundation 2017 990 form shows it funds the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS)

Back home in the US, Klarman has contributed heavily to funding the CIA Memorial Foundation. He is listed alongside former CIA Director George Tenet as a top individual contributor to the group.

Seth Klarman CIA Memorial Foundation
Billionaire Seth Klarman is listed as a top donor to the CIA Memorial Foundation

Klarman’s support for Buttigieg, The Grayzone previously reported, has been complimented by a surprisingly long roster of former high-ranking CIA officials, regime-change architects, and global financiers.

Battling Bernie with hedge fund money and sexism claims

Like Klarman, Donald Sussman is a hedge funder who has channeled his fortune into Pacronym. He has given $1 million to the Super PAC and was also top donor to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Sussman’s Paloma Partners operates through a series of offshore shell companies, and received tens of millions of dollars in the 2009 federal bailout of the banking industry.

His daughter, Democratic operative Emily Tisch Sussman, declared on MSNBC in September that “if you still support Sanders over Warren, it’s kind of showing your sexism.”

As Democratic elites like the Sussmans braced for a Bernie Sanders triumph in Iowa, a mysterious piece of technology spun out by a group they supported delayed the vote results, preventing Sanders from delivering a victory speech.

And the politician many of them supported, Pete Buttigieg, exploited the moment to declare himself the winner.

In such a strange scenario, the conspiracy theories write themselves.