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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 the case has been called a botched robbery by police. 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.
Pat on April 25, 2017:
Seems contradictory at first, but wait..... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcSNs9zb47g
LongFingers on November 25, 2016:
I thought Julian Assange claimed that it was Seth Rich who sent him data from the DNC. This was stated a couple days prior to the news of his murder. And then, a couple months later news of Assange's British lawyer, Gavin (McGlaughlin?) had met his death from a train accident (no investigation).
Gregg S. Pennington on August 28, 2016:
8/28/2016. Ask yourself why a young man working as a DNC operative is
beaten up before being shot . Why is a young male campaign
worker attacked while associated with the DNC ? Why are there
bruised body parts in addition to gunshot wounds -- who was
sending a message directly or indirectly and if he was supporting]
the winning candidate , why was he killed ? Somebody needs to
answer some pointed questions !
GodofHellfire on August 14, 2016:
Senseless murder? Two or three hit men kill the man in the middle of huge scandal and you're selling this rotten garbage?
You're quoting Wasserman-Schultz? She orchestrated this scandal?
What is this? Grimm's Fairy Tales for Democrats?
Rich was in a jam from which he couldn't escape.
justme on August 14, 2016:
Thank you for putting this out. I feel bad for Seth Rich's family. There are too many dead bodies connected to the Clinton's. Can the voters who were "hosed" sue?
Judy on July 17, 2016:
It would be interesting to do a forensic analysis on his phone to see if it had been hacked or if he had data on it.
Ralph Schwartz from Idaho Falls, Idaho on July 15, 2016:
Whistleblowers often end up in dire circumstances - not saying he was meeting with anyone yet, but it sounds like a premptive strike by political opponents
Jill Spencer from United States on July 15, 2016:
Hi munkle. The election fraud is a given, don't you think? But it's like the emperor's new clothes. No one in power is outraged and speaking up. I remember watching the Watergate hearings as a child after school. Would Nixon's conduct be an issue today, I wonder? It seems like small potatoes given all the corruption without culpability that has occurred since.
munkle on July 15, 2016:
Dirt Farmer: Yes I agree it's nice that the article does not perpetuate unfounded claims about him meeting with the FBI etc. However there are still plenty of good questions surrounding the young man's death. If he saw something corrupt taking place with voter data, his position would have made him a very credible whistle-blower.
munkle on July 15, 2016:
Although he was young, as the Data Director hired by the DNC for the Voter Expansion Project he was something of a whiz kid, and might of been aware of misuse of the NGP VAN, especially if he followed the primaries and mass disenfranchisement of Bernie voters starting in Arizona. After all, voting rights were his passion. He doesn't sound like the kind of guy who could keep quiet, it sounds like he was a wonderful young man. Why do they always take our best and brightest first?
Jill Spencer from United States on July 15, 2016:
An interesting article! Glad you're not perpetuating the false story that Rich was on his way to speak with the FBI (or thought he was) when he was killed. Snopes downplays his role with the DNC, stating that "Rich's age and the relatively minor scope of his duties made him an unlikely linchpin in a conspiracy involving election fraud or any purported testimony against Hillary Clinton. The young staffer had only been employed with the DNC since 2014, making his tenure (not just his age) again an unlikely match-up with possession of crucial information for which he was supposedly killed" (http://www.snopes.com/seth-conrad-rich/).