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Election interference: What lurks in the Shadow


On Nov. 7, 2019, Pete Buttigieg got what he needed to skyrocket his positioning toward the top of the once-widespread pool of Democratic presidential candidates- an endorsement from The New Hampshire’s Managing Editor Ian Lenahan. 

To quote my fictional friend Raven Baxter: Yup, that’s me.  

Mayor Pete rose like a phoenix from the ashes to the top of the Democratic presidential candidate ranks since he formally announced his candidacy in April 2019. The presidential pool, once brimming with over 20 candidates to choose from, seemed to resemble an ice cream shop; rum raisin (Andrew Yang) or Rocky Road (Tom Steyer) is a wee bit tempting, but that vanilla soft serve is oh-so dependable (Grandpa Bernie!).  

I know that I never specifically said the words “I endorse Mayor Pete Buttigieg for the Democratic nominee.” Google it! It never happened. God, I was committed though; I wrote about his policies, his husband Chasten (and that they met on Hinge) and I even wrote about how he can speak seven languages. I maintain this position, though: I’m not sure why you’d want to be able to be well-versed in Maltese in South Bend, Indiana. Where would you whip that out in the Hoosier State? A local Denny’s when ordering a “Signature Slam?”  

Regardless, this much is clear: I was riding the Mayor Pete wave all the way to the White House.  

Now, however, like you would with an accidental, post bar-crawl Facebook poke at 2 a.m., I’m trying to rescind my praise.  

At the time of this writing (Wednesday, Feb. 5 at 9 p.m.), the Iowa Democratic Caucus sits at 86 percent reported, and Mayor Pete has vaulted to the top of the Democratic polling, tied with Bernie Sanders for 11 delegates received. Even more impressive, he currently sits on the vote percentage throne, edging out Sanders by 1.3 percent (for 26.7 percent total) despite recording over a thousand less caucus attendees than Sanders.  

Impressive… might be the wrong word to use.  

With the delay of the Iowa Caucus reporting on Monday night due to app insufficiencies, reports started to flow in about the company that created it. Shadow Inc., which hit the App Store in 2019 after being launched by ACRONYM (a nonprofit corporation, was meant to record the votes as they rolled in but malfunctioned due to severe coding issues.) 

More and more information rolled in surrounding its involvement with the Democratic Party, specifically with one candidate in particular. ACRONYM’s founder, Tara McGowan, is married to Michael Halle, a senior member of Mayor Buttigieg’s presidential campaign. The cherry on top: Media members and social media users discovered that Buttigieg’s campaign, Pete for America, Inc., paid a total of $42,500 to Shadow Inc. on July 23, 2019 for software rights and subscriptions.  

Oddly enough, at 0 percent reporting in Iowa, Mayor Buttigieg spoke at Des Moine’s Drake University on Monday night, telling the Buttigieg watch party that they were moving on to New Hampshire “victorious.” 

Confidence, or is he caucus cahoots with Shadow Inc.? Could be either or, but America is certainly smelling something fishy. 

My earlier opinions on Buttigieg were based off my comparison between his and former President Barack Obama’s rise to the top of the political sphere. Both young bucks were relatively no-name to start, have connections to the Midwest, have marginalized identities and, of course, received instant support after strong campaigning tactics.  

However, President Obama never canoodled with an app that declared him king of the Iowa caucus, leaving integrity as the sole difference between the two gentlemen and their sudden stardom.  

I credit Buttigieg’s grassroots efforts to connect with the people of our undivided nation- that’s what instantly drew me to him and the majority of his message. After America’s 2016 electing of a leader who runs on false promises, racism, misogyny and a blind eye to the hatred he causes (amongst many other undesirable traits), Buttigieg and the other Democratic nominees run on a platform of inclusion and opposition to the maniacal clementine.  

The difference between Buttigieg and the rest of the major players, quite simply, is that he came out of absolute nowhere. Now, however, skepticism arises.  

Twitter has had a field day scalding Mayor Buttigieg, with the trending hashtag #MayorCheat circulating all over the platform. One user even tweeted a “photo of Pete Buttigieg getting a slice of pizza”; it was a city rat dragging a slice of pizza down a flight of stairs. Oh snap! I most definitely should’ve retweeted that! 

Speculation and talk about pizza aside, potential election interference is maybe the last thing that voters want to hear in this election cycle. It’s like the worst game of Jeopardy you’ve ever played: Are you taking Russian interference for 400, Shadow Inc. for 200, or “covfefe” for 800? Even worse: None of them will turn out to be the always elusive Daily Double. 

In short, politics is the name and corruption is its game. No matter where you turn or who you support, no one’s ever running the table with a clean slate. Politics, at every level, will never be squeaky clean- not even fresh-faced Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign.  

I ran into an old friend at Scorpions Bar and Grill on Tuesday, Feb. 4. Contrary to every other buzzed individual in the joint, she and I were talking about the Iowa Caucus (you know, cause we’re super cool.) When I filled her in on what’s happening with Mayor Buttigieg, holding her vodka cranberry and raising an eyebrow like the Cheshire Cat, she spoke an undeniable truth about Mayor Buttigieg and the epitome of American politics. 

“What’s politics without a little greed and foul play?” she asked. 

Feb. 11 is five days away. I’m going to need another rum and coke.  

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