Election 2020

Hoo Boy: Hillary's Campaign Manager Was Involved With That Disastrous Iowa Caucus App

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., with his wife Jane O'Meara Sanders, arrives to speak to supporters at a caucus night campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

This is not going to go over well with the Bernie Bros, who still blame Hillary Clinton and the DNC for Sanders’ loss to the wife of Bill Clinton in 2016. As everyone knows by now, the Iowa caucuses on Monday were an unmitigated disaster, thanks to an app that malfunctioned, as the Iowa Democratic Party tells it. As it turns out, Robby Mook, Hillary’s 2016 campaign manager, was tasked with vetting the app that resulted in… well… no results on Monday night. You can’t make this stuff up. The Des Moines Register reported last week:

Both parties in Iowa and their app and web development vendors partnered last fall with Harvard’s Defending Digital Democracy Project to develop strategies and systems to protect results and deal with any misinformation that’s reported on caucus night.

They worked with campaign experts Robby Mook and Matt Rhodes — as well as experts in cybersecurity, national security, technology and election administration — and simulated the different ways that things could go wrong on caucus night.

Mook, 2016 campaign manager for Hillary Clinton, and Rhodes, Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign manager, helped develop a public-service video to alert campaigns to the warning signs of hacking and misinformation.

Hoo boy, this thing is going to be a hot mess to sort out.

Already on Twitter people are asking whether Bernie might have gotten the short shrift from establishment Democrats—again.

To be clear, Mook didn’t actually develop the code for the app. He said so himself on Twitter:


However, he was tasked with testing it and likely signed off on it.

The Intercept’s Lee Fang explained that the app was “vetted for integrity by former Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook’s new election cyber security group.” He added, “Robby Mook partnered with Matt Rhoades to create his new Defending Digital Democracy cyber security org. Rhoades founded a PR firm that specializes in digging up dirt and harassing activists on behalf of corporate interests. Really, great people.”


Right now on Twitter, there’s a great deal of push-back, insisting that Mook didn’t “develop” the app. I guess that depends on what the meaning of “develop” is. If they mean that he didn’t write the code to create the app, they’re right. But if you’re asking whether he helped to plan and promote the effort, it seems clear that he did.

Oh, but that’s not all. The plot thickens:

HuffPost is reporting:

State campaign finance records indicate the Iowa Democratic Party paid Shadow, a tech company owned by ACRONYM, more than $60,000 for “website development” over two installments in November and December of last year. A Democratic source with knowledge of the process said those payments were for the app that caucus site leaders were supposed to use to upload the results at their locales.


Gerard Niemira, a veteran of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, is the head of Shadow. In 2019, David Plouffe, one of the chief architects of President Barack Obama’s wins, joined the board of advisers for ACRONYM.

Well, isn’t that interesting.

Recall that former interim DNC chairwoman Donna Brazile said she was heartbroken when she took the helm of the party and learned that the primary was basically rigged in favor of Hillary Clinton. Brazile wrote at Politico in 2017:

When I got back from a vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, I at last found the document that described it all: the Joint Fund-Raising Agreement between the DNC, the Hillary Victory Fund, and Hillary for America.

The agreement—signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and Robby Mook with a copy to Marc Elias—specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.


The funding arrangement with HFA and the victory fund agreement was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical. If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity.

“It broke my heart,” Brazile concluded.

As of publishing time, we still don’t know who won the Iowa caucuses —  and we may not know for a while, although the state party has vowed to release the results on Tuesday. Former Vice President Joe Biden’s legal team sent a letter to the Iowa Democratic Party demanding that he be informed of the results before they are released to the public, so that may result in further delays. Reportedly there was an emergency meeting with the campaign teams from all the candidates, but there’s no word yet on what was discussed at the meeting, if it did indeed happen.

Meanwhile, the Dem candidates all paraded across their respective Iowa stages late Monday night, declaring victory and vowing to win the nomination. Whoever is ultimately declared the winner of the Iowa caucuses will have an asterisk next to his or her name and will have been denied the momentum that usually comes in the wake of a decisive victory in the early battleground state.

This is not over—not by a long shot. My advice: Pop some popcorn, sit back and enjoy the fallout from this disastrous night. And stay tuned for Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday. It’s gonna be lit—and PJM’s own VodkaPundit will, of course, be drunkblogging the speech from start to finish.

Follow me on Twitter @pbolyard