The Democratic Party’s Senate campaign arm has walked away from a deal to acquire voter contact software from the vendor at the center of controversy over a malfunctioning app that threw Monday’s Iowa caucuses into a state of utter chaos.
Two sources told The Daily Beast that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee abandoned talks with Shadow Inc. the morning after the caucus debacle. The party organ had been negotiating a deal to use Shadow for its peer-to-peer text messaging technology. The committee was already uncertain about the deal but Shadow’s newfound infamy compelled them to put the proposed contract on ice. The DSCC declined to comment. Shadow did not return a request for comment.
The DSCC account would’ve been a significant get for Shadow. The firm has done business with a number of Democratic campaigns, but none of its national campaign arms, according to Federal Election Commission records. That loss of business is just the latest fallout from the disastrous rollout of Shadow’s app during Monday evening’s caucuses—for which votes are still being reported as of late Wednesday evening.
Numerous precinct chairs reported problems with the app on Monday night, exacerbating confusion and delays in the reporting and tabulation of votes from Democrats’ first presidential nominating contest. The Iowa Democratic Party reported on Tuesday that the app had suffered from a “coding error.”
Shadow released a statement on Tuesday apologizing for those problems. “We will apply the lessons learned in the future, and have already corrected the underlying technology issue,” the group said. “We take these issues very seriously, and are committed to improving and evolving to support the Democratic Party’s goal of modernizing its election processes.”
“I’m really disappointed that some of our technology created an issue that made the caucus difficult,” Shadow CEO Gerard Niemira told Bloomberg onTuesday. “We feel really terrible about that.”
The Iowa caucus app’s problems raised questions among some Democrats about the firm’s expertise and qualifications, and those of its chief investor, the deep-pocketed Democratic digital group ACRONYM. But the Iowa experience presented political problems as well as technical issues for the DSCC.
As details of Shadow’s—and, by extension, ACRONYM’s—work in Iowa emerged, some interested political observers, chiefly supporters of President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, began circulating conspiracy theories about the companies and their alleged favoritism for presidential campaigns that had purchased their services last year, including those of former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Those theories were often factually dubious, but a new contract between Shadow and a national Democratic Party organ in the immediate wake of the controversy would likely create headaches for the party at a moment when it is trying to clean up the Iowa mess and project an air of unity and competence.
Shadow, for its part, has already suffered catastrophic reputational damage.The Democratic Party of Nevada quickly announced on Tuesday that it would not be using the Shadow app for which it had already paid tens of thousands of dollars at its own caucuses this month. Hours after its role in Iowa surfaced, its own investors were attempting to distance themselves from the company.