‘Shadow’ app is part of a bold influence machine for Democrats to defeat Trump



Before Iowa Caucuses, few had heard of the “Shadow” app, the smart-phone technology deployed by Iowa Democrats to report results from precincts across that state last Monday, Feb. 3.

It was a colossal face plant, and Iowa Democrats still cannot say with certainty who won the Iowa Caucus, although it appears to be Pete Buttigieg, by a nose.

Iowa’s meltdown was when Shadow caught the attention of political observers, and it came out from, er, the shadows.

Conspiracy theories soon followed. Who needs Russian interference, when you have Democrat-built election software, people mused.

Yet, it is even worse than it appeared on election night, when it seemed strange enough to have Pete Buttigieg, one of the Democrats’ rising candidates, declaring victory before the count was even close to being reported.

Later, investigative writers discovered that Buttigieg had invested heavily in the Shadow operation.

FEC report shows Pete Buttigieg as one of the largest investors in Shadow, Inc.

There was more: Tara McGowan, the founder of the umbrella organization that owns Shadow, is married to Michael Halle, a political consultant who has worked as as a senior strategist for Pete Buttigieg.

Shadow is part of a web of companies orbiting a nonprofit group called ACRONYM, founded by McGowan, who herself is a former digital producer for the Obama 2012 reelection campaign.

[Read: Iowa Caucus 2016 app worked great and everyone forgot about it]

Since the caucus disaster in Iowa, ACRONYM has gone into a defensive mode, and scrubbed its references to Shadow on its website.

But there’s always the WayBack Machine. An older, cached copy of the website shows that ACRONYM was proud of founding Shadow.

Today, the company website says it is just an investor:

McGowan is putting as much space as possible between herself and Shadow. In a “note to supporters” published last week on Medium, she wrote:

“While we are investors in Shadow, the company is a distinct for-profit entity, which builds political campaign technology. The company has other private investors too. Shadow also has its own Board of Directors. When it comes to day-to-day operations, Shadow and its full-time employees operate independently from ACRONYM. Payroll, accounting and other systems are also separate. We’re two distinct entities.”

But McGowan is contradicted by the CEO of Shadow, Gerard Niemira who wrote on ACRONYM’s website last year that Shadow would “exist under the ACRONYM umbrella.”

Niemira is the former chief technology officer and chief operating officer of Acronym. It was Niemira’s company, Groundbase, that was purchased by ACRONYM, and he was in charge bringing the product to market for use by Democrats in Iowa, Nevada, and other states, such as Wisconsin.

The tentacles of ACRONYM don’t stop at the “Shadow” technology.


ACRONYM is also building out a network of “progressive” news outlets in states considered pivotal in the 2020 election cycle. These news sites are filling the void where mainstream media is faltering economically.

The fake news network, called the Courier Newsroom, is already up and running in Arizona, Wisconsin, and Virginia, and is trying to staff up news operations in North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania.

Not coincidentally, all of these states are considered essential for a win for the White House in 2020. Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania are “must win” states Democrats are targeting. Courier Newsroom is hiring staff now for these operations.

ACRONYM says it’s also just “an investor” in Courier.

But a look at Courier’s website description of itself shows that ACRONYM is not just any investor, but is, in fact, the owner:


Tara McGowan started the ACRONYM machine shortly after the 2016 presidential election. She describes it as a nonprofit that is owner in for-profit companies “that share our unwavering mission to build power and digital infrastructure for the progressive movement.”

“When local journalism dies, we no longer read shared headlines and, in turn, we understand one another less. Having fewer shared sets of facts also erodes trust in our democracy and obscures the pathways for people to participate in it,” explains the Courier Newsroom website.

“This is why we are launching Courier Newsroom, a progressive media company that’s investing in local journalism across the country, and we’re starting by building newsrooms in ArizonaVirginia, Wisconsin, and three other states, as well as a national platform, COURIER.

“Journalists will surface stories that highlight the effects of federal policies at the local level, while elevating the policy decisions, ideas, and actions happening locally to a national audience. We need to grow sustainable infrastructure to support local reporting that holds a mirror to our democracy and all of its participants.”

“Courier Newsroom is not here to enter a war of who’s right, or who should win. Our mission is about giving people something we can all share: the facts that bind our communities together,” the company explains in benign tones. “Because when local journalism thrives, the truth is what we have in common.”

A columnist from News Guard took note this week and did some digging. In the Washington Post, COURIER was outed as purely a political propaganda machine, masquerading as straight-up news:

“In reality, Courier Newsroom is a clandestine political operation, publishing, among other things, positive stories about moderate Democrats who face difficult reelections in November. Courier’s main backer is Acronym, a liberal dark-money group that has invested heavily in Democratic digital advertising and campaign technology — including Shadow Inc., the tech company behind the app that was supposed to report the results of Monday’s Iowa caucuses. Its failed app aside, Acronym has already laid the groundwork to have an outsize impact on the 2020 elections.”

Courier’s editorial staff is filled with long-time Democrat political operatives, all with ties to progressive causes. The focus of the newsrooms’ efforts will be on local and state politics.


Courier Newsroom is the reasonable-sounding auntie for McGowan’s empire, But the heart of her efforts is where the real money is. It’s her anti-Trump Super Pac called PACRONYM.

McGowan wrote on Medium last week: “My mission for the next 271 days is to do everything within my power to make absolutely certain Donald Trump is voted out of office.” PACRONYM is where the knives will come out against Republicans in a more overt way.

PACRONYM’s website shows its political bent.

The political arm of McGowan’s octopus raised more than $7 million in 2019.

Who are the investors in PACRONYM? That’s where it gets interesting.

George Soros put in $2.6 million, and Fred Eychaner, a news media mogul, put in $1.5 million (he also gave $25 million to the Clinton Foundation and is a regular donor to Democrat super PACs).

And a number of labor organizations are signed on:

McGowan is building a wrap-around complex that touches many parts of the political lifespan — technology, control of data and information, shaping the news to voters, and brute force attacks against opponents. It’s a bold, risky operation. If not for the spectacular meltdown at the Iowa caucus, the entire venture may have stayed beneath the radar for years.


  1. We all know that Democrats do not believe in democracy, the shenanigans in Iowa prove it once more. Even without all the secret backroom dealings the simple fact that Pete won while Bernie had more votes tells you all you need to know, aren’t Democrats still trying to make political hay about the Electoral College? The Democrat machine is rigged and on full display as being such in yet another election cycle.

  2. Thank you, Suzanne, for getting this very important information out to the public. Do you know if Alaska has any ties with this organization and if any of the donors are tied to Alaska? Doing research on NXVIM in an Alaska case at the moment so I am, as usual, busy investigating what Alaska detectives and so-called journalists refuse to investigate.

    • Connect the dots. If airline pilots demand safer pilots by way of rest periods, then more pilots, more union members, without growth of an airline. Better benefits, means higher cost to the airline. Higher contributions to retirement plans means higher cost to the airline. Eventually, there’s only a handful of airlines. And fewer airlines mean less mobility, less pollution and fewer people working, leading to more government control.

  3. Democracy is just an internal step to complete Socialism and Capitalism is control by the Capitalist who are the Bankers. America was founded as a Constitutional Republic on Free Enterprise. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson are a wealth of information on the founding of the United States of America as the first Nation founded on these principals.
    I very much thank you Suzanne for the tremendous research you do. Information is the road to freedom. Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

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