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Mega Anti-Trump GOP Donor Gave PACRONYM More Than $1 Million Because ‘Democracy Is At Stake’

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Chris White on February 6, 2020

  • GOP donor Seth Klarman turned his back on Republican politics after President Donald Trump’s 2016 victory and shoveled money into a PAC linked to the Iowa caucus debacle.
  • Klarman told The New York Times in 2018 that the best way for him to help save democratic norms was to fund as many Democratic campaigns as possible.
  • Much of the funding nonprofit ACRONYM received from donors went to create a vast network of fake news outlets that spread left-wing propaganda ahead of the 2020 election. 

One of the biggest GOP donors in New England history gave more than $1 million to a group behind Monday’s Iowa caucus debacle under the belief that it acted as a guard against Republican excess.

Seth Klarman, a billionaire and former GOP megadonor, gave PACRONYM $1.5 million in 2019, according to the group’s 2019 Federal Election Commission filing. The political action committee is affiliated with a group that reportedly founded Shadow, a phone app responsible for causing delays in reporting the results of the Democratic caucuses.

Klarman reportedly began plowing millions of dollars in Democratic campaigns after the 2016 election to regain control of Congress. He told The New York Times in September 2018 that “We need to turn the House and Senate as a check on [President] Donald Trump and his runaway presidency.”

Klarman is the CEO of Baupost Group who gave more than $7 million to the Republican Party in New England, the Boston Globe reported in 2015. The hedge fund manager contributed to PACRONYM partially because he considers Trump a threat to American democracy.

“One of the reasons I’m willing to come out of my shell and talk to you is because I think democracy is at stake,” Klarman told The NYT, adding: “I don’t care what good things are happening because I am drawn to focus on the democratic norms that are being eroded.”

Klarman gave to multiple candidates in 2018, including Democrats Beto O’Rourke of Texas and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, among other candidates. O’Rourke ran unsuccessfully that year to unseat GOP Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, while Gillibrand has served in the Senate since 2009. Both Democrats ran unsuccessful presidential campaigns.

His contribution came less than two years after the Iowa Democratic Party promised to use Shadow to help count votes during the caucuses.

ACRONYM, the group affiliated with the PAC, edited portions of its website Tuesday to distance itself from the app Democrats hoped would simplify the process of counting votes in Iowa’s roughly 1,700 precincts. The group, which once bragged about being Shadow’s founder, also created a network of fake news outlets with the intent of spreading pro-Democratic messages.

Tara McGowan, a digital producer for Obama for America in 2011 and the proprietor behind ACRONYM, raised at least $25 million from Klarman and other wealthy liberals to create a media company called Courier Newsroom that is designed to deliver information favorable to Democrats.

Along with the Courier Newsroom, the 31-year-old McGowan also created Virginia Dogwood and Arizona’s Copper Courier, among others that are expected to roll out in Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin, all battleground states. The Dogwood publishes articles designed to look local in an effort to develop trust among readers in the area.

McGowan explained to Bloomberg Businessweek in November 2019 how her operations work.

“Everybody who clicks on, likes, or shares an article … we get that data back to create a lookalike audience to find other people with similar attributes in the same area. So we continually grow our ability to find people,” said McGowan, a former journalist who worked for CBS News.

McGowan has not responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment through ACRONYM’s website, but she did explain on Twitter how her group came to be inextricably tied to the caucuses.

“In 2019, ACRONYM became majority investor in @ShadowInchq, a new political tech company founded by @gjniemira with a mission to create … accessible tech infrastructure for progressive campaigns,” she wrote in a Wednesday tweet before noting that she had little foreknowledge of Shadow’s work.

Klarman is not the only billionaire to have funded digital boutique services that have gone on to employ sketchy operations.

Tech billionaire Reid Hoffman became embroiled in controversy after The NYT and other outlets reported in December 2018 and January 2019 about his apparent role in a false flag operation in Alabama. Hoffman, for his part, apologized for his role in the effort to troll voters.

Hoffman-financed groups — New Knowledge (NK) and American Engagement Technologies (AET) — allegedly used social media in 2017 to undermine support for Republican Roy Moore’s senatorial campaign and boosted his opponent, Democratic Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, who narrowly won the race.

Jones publicly called for an investigation into the caper but has been tight-lipped about the ruse.

Hoffman spent roughly $100,000 on the projects — the identical amount Facebook says the Russian Internet Research Agency spent trolling people on social media leading up to the 2016 election. It’s unclear if it had any effect on the outcome of Alabama’s election. Analysts believe allegations that Moore sexually assaulted underage women three decades ago likely played a larger role.

Klarman has not responded to the DCNF’s requests for comment.

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