As the scandal surrounding embattled data firm Cambridge Analytica, used by both Trump and Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) in the 2016 campaign, continues to grow, the company is quietly offering its services to Republican campaigns for the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.
According to a report by Colorado-based ABC affiliate Denver7, a Cambridge Analytica employee recently contacted the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Robinson, offering to help him win “however we can.”
“Hello, this is Michael calling with Cambridge Analytica in Washington, D.C. Just wanted to give you a call because we’ve been tracking the governor’s race here in Colorado for the last few weeks, and we would love to offer services, and help you win, by however we can,” the Cambridge Analytica employee said in a voicemail left with Robinson’s campaign and later obtained by Denver7.
As Denver7 noted, the GOP-backed Senate Majority Fund used two Colorado political nonprofits to pay Cambridge Analytica nearly half a million dollars in 2014 and 2015. Republicans successfully regained the majority in the state Senate in 2014 — the year when most of that spending took place.
Just three months ago, Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix — who has since been suspended amid the fallout from the unfolding scandal — said the company was backing away from seeking work in America.
But the offer to Robinson shows that the data firm is still very much at work in America, actively seeking contracts with Republican campaigns ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
And that’s not the only sign of the company’s ongoing attempts to influence U.S. politics.
On Monday, Politico reported that newly appointed Trump national security council aide Kirsten Fontenrose had worked until recently for the parent company of Cambridge Analytica.
The revelation “underscores the firm’s influence in Trump’s Washington,” Politico noted.
There are also lingering questions surrounding Cambridge Analytica’s work for Trump’s new national security adviser, John Bolton.
Bolton’s super PAC has paid Cambridge Analytica more than $1.1 million since 2014 for “research” and “survey research,” according to an analysis of campaign finance filings by the Center for Public Integrity.
On March 30, Bolton’s super PAC announced that it would cease operations as of March 31 — but Bolton previously said his super PAC would spend $1 million in the 2018 election cycle in a bid to help Republican Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson in Wisconsin. Nicholson is challenging Democratic incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin.
“Bolton’s super PAC spent roughly $2.5 million during the 2016 election cycle to support the bids of Republican U.S. Senate candidates, according to Federal Election Commission filings. The press release announcing support for Nicholson said that ‘Ambassador Bolton looks to increase those contributions for the 2018 midterm elections,'” the Center for Public Integrity reported.
The Trump campaign hired Cambridge Analytica in June 2016, and went on to pay the company at least $6 million for its work on data analytics.
The Walters campaign paid the firm $20,000 over the course of the 2016 campaign for the express purpose of “voter data for media ads.”
After Trump won the 2016 election, Cambridge Analytica touted its work as integral to Trump’s victory and reported a surge of interest in its services.
“It’s like drinking from a fire hose,” Matt Oczkowski, Cambridge’s head of product, told the Washington Post in February 2017. “Besides Antarctica, we’ve gotten interest from every continent.”
The data firm even set up shop in a brand new office space near the White House, apparently anticipating an influx of new clients in the U.S.
Perhaps most troubling of all is the fact that the personal data harvested by Cambridge Analytica — which was used to build the digital operation that guided Trump’s campaign for the presidency — can’t be reigned back in. And according to a new report, Cambridge Analytica likely siphoned data from far more Americans than initially reported.
In a report issued Wednesday afternoon, Facebook announced that the personal information of many as 87 million users, mostly in the U.S., had been “improperly shared” with Cambridge Analytica. That figure is a sharp increase from the initial estimate of 50 million users worldwide.
To put that number in context, an estimated 139 million Americans voted in the 2016 presidential election.
No one associated with the Trump campaign, including Trump himself, have given any indication that they see a problem with Cambridge Analytica’s practices. In fact, Trump appeared to brag about the data company’s work in a recent tweet.
Furthermore, Brad Parscale, who worked side by side with Cambridge Analytica employees and used the stolen data to develop the digital strategy for Trump’s 2016 campaign, was recently hired to run Trump’s re-election campaign.
And now, after hijacking the 2016 presidential election, the company has set its sights on a new target: the fast-approaching 2018 midterms.