Des Moines Register
Editorial: Something smells in the Democratic Party
Editorial: Something smells in the Democratic Party
The Register's editorial
Once again the world is laughing at Iowa. Late-night comedians and social media mavens are having a field day with jokes about missing caucusgoers and coin flips.
That’s fine. We can take ribbing over our quirky process. But what we can’t stomach is even the whiff of impropriety or error.
What happened Monday night at the Democratic caucuses was a debacle, period. Democracy, particularly at the local party level, can be slow, messy and obscure. But the refusal to undergo scrutiny or allow for an appeal reeks of autocracy.
The Iowa Democratic Party must act quickly to assure the accuracy of the caucus results, beyond a shadow of a doubt.
First of all, the results were too close not to do a complete audit of results. Two-tenths of 1 percent separated Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. A caucus should not be confused with an election, but it’s worth noting that much larger margins trigger automatic recounts in other states.
Second, too many questions have been raised. Too many accounts have arisen of inconsistent counts, untrained and overwhelmed volunteers, confused voters, cramped precinct locations, a lack of voter registration forms and other problems. Too many of us, including members of the Register editorial board who were observing caucuses, saw opportunities for error amid Monday night’s chaos.
The Sanders campaign is rechecking results on its own, going precinct by precinct, and is already finding inconsistencies, said Rania Batrice, a Sanders spokeswoman. The campaign seeks the math sheets or other paperwork that precinct chairs filled out and were supposed to return to the state party. They want to compare those documents to the results entered into a Microsoft app and sent to the party.
“Let’s compare notes. Let’s see if they match,” Batrice said Wednesday.
Dr. Andy McGuire, chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party, dug in her heels and said no. She said the three campaigns had representatives in a room in the hours after the caucuses and went over the discrepancies.
McGuire knows what’s at stake. Her actions only confirm the suspicions, wild as they might be, of Sanders supporters. Their candidate, after all, is opposed by the party establishment — and wasn’t even a Democrat a few months ago.
So her path forward is clear: Work with all the campaigns to audit results. Break silly party tradition and release the raw vote totals. Provide a list of each precinct coin flip and its outcome, as well as other information sought by the Register. Be transparent.
And then call for a blue ribbon commission to study how to improve the caucuses, as the Republican Party of Iowa did after its own fiasco in 2012. Monday’s mess showed that it’s time for the Democrats to change, too.
The caucuses have become something they were never intended to be. It’s as if RAGBRAI tried to morph into the Tour de France. It wasn’t built for the speed or the significance.
The current process grew out of efforts to find a more democratic way to choose delegates to conventions, after the grassroots saw how Democratic powerbrokers controlled the nominating process in 1968. But the caucuses have become as antiquated and opaque as the smoke-filled rooms of yore.
Democrats should ask themselves: What do we want the Iowa caucus to be? How can we preserve its uniqueness while bringing more order? Does it become more like a straw poll or primary? How do we strike the balance between tradition and transparency?
We have time to consider these questions. First, however, we need answers to what happened Monday night. The future of the first-in-the-nation caucuses demands it.
The Iowa Democratic Party Chair Refusing To Review Caucus Results Is A HUGE Hillary Supporter
By Chuck Ross
The Iowa Democratic party chair who is refusing to release raw vote totals from Monday’s state caucuses is a long-time Hillary Clinton supporter who donated to the politician’s various campaigns and who reportedly drives a Buick with the license plate “HRC 2016.”
Dr. Andrea “Andy” McGuire has shot down calls to review vote tallies from Monday’s contest despite Clinton’s razor-thin win over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. The former secretary of state squeaked by the democratic socialist, hauling in 49.9 percent of state delegate equivalents versus Sanders’ 49.6 percent.
The Clinton campaign claimed complete victory in the caucuses on Tuesday despite the close vote. But others, including the Sanders campaign, are questioning the outcome, citing paperwork irregularities and coin flips that awarded county delegates in some precincts.
In a column published in the Des Moines Register on Thursday, the paper’s editorial board called Monday’s caucuses a “debacle” and said that a complete audit was in order.
“First of all, the results were too close not to do a complete audit of results,” reads the article, entitled “Something smells in the Democratic party.”
“Two-tenths of 1 percent separated Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. A caucus should not be confused with an election, but it’s worth noting that much larger margins trigger automatic recounts in other states,” the editorial reads.
The paper called on McGuire, who once ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor, to embrace transparency by releasing raw vote totals.
“So her path forward is clear: Work with all the campaigns to audit results. Break silly party tradition and release the raw vote totals. Provide a list of each precinct coin flip and its outcome, as well as other information sought by the Register. Be transparent,” the editors write, noting that the Sanders campaign is reviewing precinct tallies and claims to have found irregularities.
But McGuire, the former president of Meridian Health, has so far resisted calls for a review of the vote.
“The answer is that we had all three camps in the tabulation room last night to address any grievances brought forward, and we went over any discrepancies. These are the final results,” she told the Register.
There’s plenty of reason to question McGuire’s objectivity, however.
A Daily Caller analysis of federal campaign finance records shows that McGuire has contributed $7,139 to Clinton’s campaigns over the years. On Dec. 29, 2008 she donated to Hill PAC, a political action committee set up for Clinton. On Sept. 30, 2007 McGuire gave $2,300 to Clinton’s presidential campaign. She donated $588.80 to the campaign on June 27, 2007. And on June 7, 2005, McGuire gave $4,000 to Clinton’s Senate campaign.
According to a 2007 New York Times article, McGuire hosted a fundraiser for Clinton at her Des Moines home.
Besides the financial ties, McGuire is close to Clinton in other ways. In 2007 she was appointed to the Women’s Leadership Council for Team Hillary, a group of 250 women whose goal was to help Clinton reach the White House. She also served as Iowa co-chairwoman on Clinton’s campaign during that election.
McGuire, who claimed that she would be objective when she took over the Iowa Democratic party last year, has also reportedly put her affection for Clinton on public display. According to a 2014 Des Moines Register article, the former physician drives a Buick with a license plate that reads: “HRC 2016.”
McGuire did not return a request for comment. Nor did the Sanders campaign.