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.
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.
Iowa, you have shocked the nation.
By all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious. #IowaCaucuses
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.
.@RobbyMook, you may not have built the app, but the @nytimes is reporting that you were involved in stress testing it.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.