Microsoft’s Iowa Vote-Count A Dry Run for Bigger Corporate Role In U.S. Election Process

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BY AARON KLEIN

The use of Microsoft’s vote-counting technology in Monday’s Iowa Caucus may foreshadow a future in which corporate technology plays a central role in U.S. elections, raising concerns about the possibility of private firms skewing the democratic process.

In a disclosure largely unreported by the news media last year, President Obama’s Special Commission on Election Reform recommended that commercial software and computers, such as iPads, be used to accurately record and count Americans’ votes — even though companies’ financial interests can be helped or hurt by the outcome of those elections.

Following election issues that plagued the Iowa Caucus in the 2012 presidential race, Microsoft partnered with the technology firm InterKnowlogy as well as the Democratic and Republican parties to develop and deploy an electronic reporting system used in the caucus on Monday. But now questions have been raised as to the effectiveness of the Microsoft volunteer effort.

CBS News reported:

The company — which teamed up with Interknowlogy to create party-specific applications on mobile and PC platforms so that Iowa’s nearly 1,700 precincts could quickly report vote tallies — said in a statement Monday night that the “mobile apps for both parties have been working without issue.”

An Iowa Democratic Party spokesperson also confirmed to CBS News that the app itself “worked well.”

But even that 2016 technology — a far cry from the caucuses’ original touch-tone phone reporting system — wasn’t foolproof.

Some voters complained on social media that they were having difficulty with accessing the central website reporting the caucus results, leading Microsoft to release a statement saying high traffic temporarily overwhelmed the website. “National interest in the Iowa Caucuses has overwhelmed the Democratic and Republican Party Iowa Caucus websites,” the company said in a statement Monday.

Conflict of interest?

Already, some political participants are raising the alarm about Microsoft leaders’ ties to presidential candidates.

The Hill reported on concerns from

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)16%’ campaign about Microsoft’s ties to the Clinton Foundation:

Pete D’Alessandro, who runs the Sanders operation in Iowa, last week questioned the tech giant’s motivations. However, the campaign declined to expand on its concerns after multiple requests for clarification.

Other aides to Sanders noted that Microsoft employees have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Clinton campaign, according to MSNBC.

“You’d have to ask yourself why they’d want to give something like that away for free,” D’Alessandro said.

Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin noted last month that “Microsoft, founded by leading H-1B/amnesty cheerleader Bill Gates, has been [Marco] Rubio’s No. 2 corporate donor the past five years.”

Breitbart News has previously reported that Open Secrets lists Microsoft as the second largest contributor to

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)79%’s campaign committee since 2011, donating $33,100.

Breitbart’s Julia Hahn further reported:

Microsoft founder Bill Gates is a member of Mark Zuckerberg’s immigration lobbying firm FWD.us and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is a co-chair of the immigration lobbying firm the Partnership for a New American Economy—along with Fox News’s founder Rupert Murdoch.

Both immigration lobbying firms have endorsed and lobbied for Marco Rubio’s 2015 immigration expansion bill—known as the Immigration Innovation Act, or I-Squared—which would have tripled the issuances of low-wage H-1B guest worker visas.

Corporate involvement; ballot reform

Iowa seems to have been a test drive for the use of Microsoft, InterKnowlogy, and other firms in future U.S. elections.

Indeed, Tim Huckaby, InterKnowlogy’s founder and chairman, told the CRN.com website that his company in September and October will unveil two 3-D, touch-enabled big data visualization apps to track results in the 2016 presidential election.

It is notable that Microsoft is a strategic partner of Scytl, an international company that in 2012 purchased the leading U.S. electronic voting firm SOE Software.

In 2014, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s venture-capital fund announced an investment of $40 million in Scytl.  “This is a very powerful global trend,” said Abhishek Agrawal, a managing director of Vulcan Capital, the investment branch of Allen’s Vulcan Inc. “There is a pathway toward gradual modernization.”

This reporter previously documented Allen’s political contributions to both Democrats and Republicans, including the campaigns of Democratic Reps. Norm Dicks and Dennis Heck, both from Washington state, where Allen owns the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks National Football League team.

One of Allen’s philanthropic organizations, the Allen Institute for Brain Science, earmarked a $60 million annual donation to support Obama’s initiative to map the activity of every neuron in the human brain.

In April 2013, Obama announced his plan, the BRAIN Initiative, or the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative.

Another of Allen’s charitable groups, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, donated a total of $250,000 to the immigration-reform advocacy group Centro de la Raza.

The same foundation provided $450,000 to the Urban Institute.

The supposedly “nonpartisan” Urban Institute’s employees have a record of donating nearly 100 percent of their political contributions to Democrats. Officially, the Urban Institute advocates for socialized medicine, carbon taxes, and amnesty for illegal aliens.

Meanwhile, in 2012 Scytl announced the successful implementation of technology that allows ballots to be cast using Google and Apple smartphones and tablet computers.

Such methods may become part of the official voting process in the U.S.

In January 2014, Obama’s 10-person Presidential Commission on Election Administration released its recommendations for reforming the U.S. election process, including transitioning to voting via tablet computers and other technologies.

The commission recommended:

Software-only products can be integrated with off-the-shelf commercial hardware components such as computers, laptops, tablets, scanners, printers, and even machine-readable code scanners and signature pad products.

Tablet computers such as iPads are common components of these new technologies. They can be integrated into the check-in, voting, and verification processes in the polling place.

The commission highlighted new technologies in which the voter can “pre-fill” sample ballots at home to be later scanned at the polling place.

The panel dismissed concerns about hacking. The commission stated: “The fact that a tablet or off-the-shelf computer can be hacked or can break down does not mean such technology is inherently less secure than existing ballot marking methods if proper precautions are taken.”

With research by Brenda J. Elliott.

MSNBC: Obama Admin. Has Sent People To Jail For Mishandling Classified Information, Like Clinton Did

Published on Jan 30, 2016

MSNBC legal correspondent Ari Melber said Friday that the Obama administration has prosecuted people for mishandling classified information, as news broke that the State Department is withholding 22 emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server because they contained top-secret information. Clinton, who used an unauthorized private server as secretary of state, has been dogged by the email scandal since it came to light last March. “People do go to jail for mishandling classified information,” the left-leaning Melber said. “They have been prosecuted in the Obama administration for that. Now, no one here has come up with evidence that Hillary Clinton was the originator, was the creator of any of this material that gets that legal level.”

Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon argued earlier on MSNBC that this was an example of over-classification by the government and that Clinton wasn’t to blame for information that, according to her, was not marked classified at the time it was sent and received over her non-secure private server. “The problem, of course, with that defense is it may catch you on the law, but it doesn’t catch you on policy,” Melber said. “At the end of the day, what the Inspector General of the intelligence community is concerned about here in this breaking news is that these materials were on a private server and they were at least later determined to be classified and in some cases, allegedly top-secret … That’s a problem for policy even if it doesn’t in any way suggest that Hillary Clinton broke criminal law.”

The Washington Free Beacon reported in November that Clinton signed a non-disclosure agreement where she took responsibility for ascertaining whether information in her possession was classified, and she acknowledged that “negligent handling” of that information could jeopardize national security. The NDA laid out criminal penalties for “any unauthorized disclosure” of classified information. The Iowa caucuses are on Monday.

Washington Free Beacon: MSNBC on Clinton: Obama Admin Has Sent People to Jail for Mishandling Classified Information

Scarborough: ‘I’d rather set myself on fire’ than do debate with Megyn Kelly

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BY EDDIE SCARRY

MSNBC “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough suggested on Wednesday that Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump is right in his attacks against Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly as an unfair debate moderator.

In fact, Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, said he’d rather set himself aflame than participate in a debate moderated by Kelly.

“That is just good unbiased journalism and if I were a candidate I certainly would want that person asking me questions in a fair and a balanced way,” Scarborough said with an air of sarcasm after playing a montage of clips of Kelly criticizing Trump.

“No, actually,” Scarborough said, “as I said before, I would rather set myself on fire in front of the Fox News studio than go on a debate stage with that.”

More from the Washington Examiner

Trump announced Tuesday that he plans to skip the next GOP debate, which will be hosted by Fox News on Thursday and will serve as the last chance for all of the candidates to face each other on one stage. He said he’ll be bypassing the debate because it will be co-moderated by Kelly, who Trump has repeatedly accused of being unfair to him.

During a press conference, Trump called Kelly a “third-rate reporter.”

Fox has responded by mocking Trump. On her show Tuesday night, Kelly said the debate would happen “with or without Mr. Trump.”

Campaign manager: ‘Megyn Kelly totally obsessed’…

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BY NICK GASS

Trump slept on it. And he’s not budging.
After Donald Trump declared Tuesday night that he would boycott Fox News’ Thursday primetime debate, the Republican poll leader is publicly refusing to blink, with his campaign manager accusing moderator Megyn Kelly of being out to get Trump.

“You know, what we know is Megyn Kelly is totally obsessed with Mr. Trump,” Corey Lewandowski told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “She’s on show after show about why the media shouldn’t be having him on television.”
And Trump himself took to Twitter to — indirectly — call Kelly a nasty name that he’s broken out before.
“I refuse to call Megyn Kelly a bimbo, because that would not be politically correct. Instead I will only call her a lightweight reporter!” the real estate mogul tweeted early Wednesday.
Trump’s decision to once again wage war on Fox and Kelly so close to the Iowa caucuses is either a shrewd one or a boneheaded one, depending on who you ask. While some are contending that Trump risks coming off as a coward walking away from a fight, it’s undeniable that he’s robbing the media oxygen from his rivals as they try to make their closing arguments to caucus-goers.
The tiff apparently started after Trump tried to pressure Fox News to boot Kelly as one of the moderators. Kelly gained heightened notoriety after pointedly asking Trump at the first debate about his supposed “war on women.” But Fox refused to give in, issuing a biting press statement on Tuesday saying, “We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president — a nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.”
Fox doubled down after Trump’s declaration of a boycott, issuing a statement Tuesday night that accused Lewandowski of threatening the network with “terrorizations” of Kelly.
“In a call on Saturday with a Fox News executive, Lewandowski stated that Megyn had a ‘rough couple of days after that last debate’ and he ‘would hate to have her go through that again,’” the network alleged.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/01/megyn-kelly-trump-obsessed-218273#ixzz3yT5qyx00

Matthews Calls Levin ‘Distasteful,’ Levin MASHES Him

MSNBC “Hardball” host Chris Matthews made the mistake of insulting conservative talk show host Mark Levin, calling him “distasteful.” Levin responded to the insult on his radio show, and things did not turn out well for tingles-up-his-leg Matthews.

On Monday night the MSNBC host discussed the ever-important topic of Senator Ted Cruz’s “weird face” to his ever-shrinking number of viewers. Levin’s name was injected into the conversation since the conservative recently laid into Trump on air for attacking the Texas senator over non-issues.

Matthews—a man who once compared Levin and other conservatives to the North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-un and announced on air that he felt “tingles” up his leg when he heard Barack Obama speak—called Levin one of the most “distasteful human beings out there.”

Levin responded by replaying the clip on air and letting loose. He first ripped the disheveled host over at “MSLSD” for his disparaging comments about Cruz’s face.

“Boy, oh boy, Chris Matthews finds me distasteful. I find him to be a puke.”

-MARK LEVIN

“It looks like you’re sitting on a cucumber all the time, you big dummy! May I say with all no respect,” shouted Levin.

“Boy, oh boy, Chris Matthews finds me distasteful. I find him to be a puke,” said Levin, after correcting the phonetically-challenged host for his mispronunciation of “Limbaugh.”

The conservative added that it is a “badge of honor” to be called “distasteful” by a “hard-line leftists and Democrat operative” who in the same breathe just talked about “Ted Cruz looking like he’s taking a leak” and previously “smeared” Sarah Palin.

“This guy’s a nobody,” added Levin bluntly.

When The Daily Wire reached out to the conservative pundit for comment, Levin added a few more choice words to his description of the MSNBC host.

“Matthews is an ignoramus and liberal hack,” said Levin. “The only thing lower than his ratings is his IQ,” he added. “He used to work for Tip O’Neil, then Jimmy Carter, and now MSNBC. He’s attracted to losers and they’re attracted to him.”

Although we cannot confirm how low Matthews’ IQ actually is, Levin is correct about the dismal ratings over at MSNBC; the network hit all-time lows in March.