Election Integrity Activists Disturbed by Execution-Style Murder of DNC Data Guru Seth Rich
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Election analysts who surmise that voter suppression tactics against Bernie Sanders must have been assisted by voter database hacks are wondering at the timing and senselessness of the murder of a DNC data director, Seth Rich. Rich was shot multiple times in the back in a puzzling random murder in an affluent area of Washington DC. Nothing was taken from him, and robbery was ruled out as the motive. Rich was from Nebraska.
When hundreds of thousands of voters were dropped from the rolls, or found their party registrations changed without their permission, in the Democratic primaries in New York, Arizona, and California, one question lingered: How did the fiascos come to affect almost exclusively Bernie Sanders supporters?
It has emerged that the NGP VAN database, a tool used by almost every Democratic political campaign and which certainly was used by Sanders, included information such as to whom a voter has donated, and other highly specific references to candidates. Arizona election integrity activist John Brakey, co-founder of AUDIT-AZ, "Americans United for Democracy, Integrity, and Transparency in Elections," said in an email:
"They know if you like anchovies or not. What magazines you're reading and more."
Brakey said the NGP VAN would certainly contain information which could be used to target likely Sanders voters in voting list purges.
The VAN has already been the subject of controversy. A pre-primary tiff erupted between the Clinton campaign and the Sanders campaign when Sanders workers peeked at Clinton data, after the software' company, which is on contract with the DNC, dropped a firewall between campaigns. In retaliation, the Clinton camp had the Sanders campaign cut off from the software for days. The news coverage prompted by the data breach underscored the importance of NGP VAN in the Democratic campaign world, what the company's CEO Stu Trevelyan has called the "Democratic data nerve center."
Election watchers are questioning if there may be any connection between the senseless, seemingly random murder of the young idealist DNC data honcho, and the mystery of the precise targeting of likely Sanders voters in critical primary states. The neighborhood he was walking in was not especially crime-ridden, and the killing was particularly brutal and aimed at ending his life.
Rich was appointed by DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz in 2014 as Data Director of the DNC's Voter Expansion Project. He would have had intimate knowledge of the NGP VAN, and its capabilities.
In analyzing an election report by Anonymous on the Arizona primary, Doug Hatlem at Counterpunch, who also obtained voluminous records associated with a lawsuit filed by Election Justice USA, concludes:
"CounterPunch‘s analysis of each entry in the Anonymous database confirms that the primary target for registrations switched without the knowledge or consent of the intended voter overwhelmingly affected supporters of Bernie Sanders."
Rich's LInked-in profile at "The Top 25 Data Directors in the Washington DC Metro Area" reads:
"Experienced and impassioned data analyst. I have an enormous interest in public service and working towards making the world a better place."
Rich was widely mourned in Washington and Democratic circles as a "progressive" who brought his ideals to work. Jane Kleeb, chairwoman-elect of the Nebraska Democratic Party, said in a statement that:
“Our Democratic family grieves the loss of a young Nebraskan who worked on campaigns and stood up on progressive issues,”
Rich's brother told an Omaha newspaper:
“He was truly out, I think, to try to save the world..He was committed to whatever cause he thought was right.”
Rich was especially committed to voting rights issues. A fellow Nebraskan and coworker told the Omaha newspaper:
“He was very committed to making sure that everyone had the opportunity to vote and protecting people’s right to vote...That was what he believed in and what he kept fighting for.”
DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz released a statement saying:
“Seth Rich was a dedicated, selfless public servant who worked tirelessly to protect the most sacred right we share as Americans — the right to vote. He saw the great potential of our nation and believed that, together, we can make the world a better place."
The hipster website HeatStreet in scouring the Internet noted that "conspiracy theories abound." Police have been going door-to-door gathering tips on the killing and hoping for relevant surveillance video to surface. One post in the HeatStreet article referred to Rich as a "whistleblower."
Rich was known as having a light-hearted side, enjoying bicycling around Washington in a panda suit. Friends also noted that as a busy man in a responsible position, he also found time to volunteer for organizations such as the Humane Society.