Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:15 pm

Ian Lucas MP

This week Facebook will learn that all are subject to the rule of law. Yes, even them.

Carole Cadwalladr

AMERICA: Everything about this story is extraordinary. This almost never happens. UK Parliament sent sergeant-at-arms to US citizen’s hotel to seize internal Facebook docs alleged to contain explosive revelations relating to Cambridge Analytica data abuse

...or to put it another way, there's a touch of the Robin Hood about
, the MP who's done this. It's such a bold & audacious move. Remember this paragraph from explosive
article about equivalent committee in the US? Yeah, well. That ain't worked here...

427F381A-7BE1-4E3C-9949-1530E0C5DA6F.jpeg (49.32 KiB) Viewed 181 times

Jos Bell

knows - the dude at the front with the Mace is the Parly Sarjeant at Arms. I've met him and he is even taller than he looks in this pic. Zuckerberg wouldn't have stood a chance.

26DA4FC4-0335-4525-8C8A-400C4F5E4833.jpeg (42.04 KiB) Viewed 181 times

Viktor Burakov

I'm British by birth but have absolutely no idea how serious this is for Facebook, if at all. Never in my 56 years have I heard of Parliament sending a sergeant-at-arms to force the handover of documents. I didn't even know it could. Can anybody help educate me?


Carole Cadwalladr

Verified account

3h3 hours ago
Potentially explosive...
@DamianCollins has set off a bomb beneath Facebook
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Nov 27, 2018 12:13 pm

Damian Collins

Verified account

10h10 hours ago
Damian Collins Retweeted Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee
Information for tomorrow's Grand Committee below. Very pleased to announce that Karine Lalieux, Parliament of B

"You knew that app developers were sharing information, and the only time you took action is when you were found out." @IanCLucas vs. Richard Allan.

NEW: Facebook responds to UK parliament's seizure of internal docs. It is getting its lines of attack out there. This is copy of its letter to @DamianCollins that it has just sent me...

“An engineer at Facebook notified the company in October 2014 that entities with a Russian IP address were pulling 3 billion data points a day [from your website]. “

4h4 hours ago

This is new information that was discovered in the documents seized from Facebook yesterday

Magnificent shade being thrown by parliament.
MP to Facebook's lobbyist, Lord Allan:
"Lord Allan you are a member of parliament. How do you think it looks that Mark Zuckerberg didn't turn up to to answer questions to parliament today?"
Lord Allan: "Not great."

"Has Facebook ever targeted a developer and removed it from the platform so that Facebook could profit from an increased market position?" No, says Allan.

Follow the Guardian's liveblog here & follow @profcarroll & @jason_kint for live coverage of this critical Facebook hearing with representatives from 9 parliaments

Paul Farrelly MP: "I've read the summary of these documents and the thought I have is RICO. Racketeering. What do you say to that?" ... 8030776320

Paul Farrelly: "Has Facebook ever taken advice on possible RICO offences?"
Lord Allan: "Not that I'm aware of"

Canadian MP: Did facebook ever tell app developers they need to buy mobile ads otherwise their access to friend data will be cut off?"
This hearing is on fire
He's now got out the full flamethrower. "Does it occur to you that Facebook might have become of these bad actors?"
"No," said Lord Allan. "I don't believe we are." Even he doesn't sound quite sure any ore...

Lord Allan: "The people I work with are decent and sincere and I don't recognise this description of the idea that people at the company are operating some vast conspiracy."

"Who at Facebook suggested you come today?" Lord Allan: "I volunteered."
"Really?So you've read all the answers given in parliament and all the times, Facebook said 'I'll write to you with that answer.' Yet how many times have you said today, 'I'll with to you with that answer'?"

Astonishing answer from Lord Allan giving his opinion on what may or may not have been of consequence or affected the result of the US election.

Canadian MP: "What's being described here sounds like corporate fraud. Perhaps the simplest form of regulation would be to break Facebook up. Will Zuck talk anti-trust?"
Lord Allan: "It depends on the problem we are trying to solve"
MP: "What if the problem is Facebook?"

Lord Allan: "We can't turn the internet off."
@DamianCollins: "The internet is not Facebook."
Final words. Hearing over. Pretty much sums it up.

Press conference: @damiancollins "We're not yet ready to publish the seized documents because we need to go through them properly/redact etc. I promise you we will publish them. Very soon. Certainly within the next week."

Canadian Bob Zimmer: We represent 400 million. Let that sink in. We need to hear from the CEO. He made the decisions. There were so many questions that were not answered."

This goes to the nub of the whole thing
@DamianCollins: "Hugely disrespectful of Zuck not to show up. Facebook should tell the court to seal the docs. What does Facebook have to hide? "

CNN @hadasgold: "How did you know Mr Kramer was in the country?" @DamianCollins: "We learned he was in the country. And we'd obviously been following the case."

.@damiancollins asked if he "violated legal norms" by seizing the docs. Collins says committee followed established procedure, believed docs contained vital info of public interest, & that Facebook had failed repeatedly to answer its qs. "The buck stops with zuck"

Bob Zimmer, Canada MP: "Facebook still don't get it. Question is if they are pretending to not get it."

Great question from @aliya__ram: "I'd to talk about anti-trust. There are eight countries represented here. Could we have a show of hands how many of you think that Facebook should be broken up?"

.@DamianCollins on the docs: "Clearly huge public interest about issues that are fundamental to the way Facebook works" And he throws it back at Facebook. Suggests onus should be on Facebook to withdraw anti-SLAPP petition to the US judge & let docs be published ... 8030776320

Facebook’s PR writes...
Seems to say: ‘Yes, Russia hacked millions of our users’ accounts. But when we checked, they didn’t seem to have done it again’
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:02 pm

Israeli hackers reportedly gave Cambridge Analytica stolen private emails of two world leaders

Rosie Perper

Cambridge Analytica, the political-research company at the center of a massive Facebook-data scandal, received private emails of two world leaders from Israeli hackers.
In one instance, Israeli hackers brought a USB stick which included private information about a Nigerian opposition leader, who is now president, to Cambridge Analytica's offices.
The same Israeli cybersecurity team was reportedly hired again in early 2015, and obtained private information on a St. Kitts and Nevis politician who was elected prime minister.
Israeli hackers reportedly gave information from the hacked emails of two world leaders to Cambridge Analytica, the political-research company at the center of a massive Facebook-data scandal.

Cambridge Analytica received data from the hacked emails of Nigeria's now-President Muhammadu Buhari and now-Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis Timothy Harris, during separate election campaigns in the countries, The Guardian reported, citing several ex-employees of the company.

The company's leadership reportedly encouraged use of the data, offered by Israeli hackers, with ousted CEO Alexander Nix, along with other senior directors, giving employees direction on how to handle the material.

Cambridge Analytica was reportedly paid £2 million ($2.8 million) in 2015 by a Nigerian billionaire to support a campaign to re-elect Goodluck Jonathan as president of Nigeria, according to the report.

"It was the kind of campaign that was our bread and butter," one ex-employee told The Guardian. "We're employed by a billionaire who's panicking at the idea of a change of government and who wants to spend big to make sure that doesn't happen."

Former Cambridge Analytica staff told The Guardian that they met Israeli cybersecurity agents in their London offices in early 2015.

According to the staff accounts, the hackers brought a USB stick reportedly filled with hacked personal emails, which included private information, including potential medical records, about then-Nigerian opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari, who is now president.

Staff members were alarmed by the information presented at the meeting, according to the report, which led them to refuse to implement the hacked data into their campaign.

The same Israeli cybersecurity team was reportedly hired again in early 2015, and obtained private information on St. Kitts and Nevis politician Timothy Harris, who was later elected prime minister.

In a previous incident, the parent group of Cambridge Analytica, SCL Group, reportedly used a £1 million ($1.4 million) bribe to help win an election for the St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party, who was a client, in 2010.

SCL Group denied using stolen data from the individuals mentioned in The Guardian report.

Executives from Cambridge Analytica, which helped Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, were caught on tape boasting about helping secure Trump's win.

Facebook recently suspended Cambridge Analytica for not destroying the private data of 50 million users it used to predict the behavior of individual American voters. ... ica-2018-3

Wendy Siegelman

There’s also an interesting connection to Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix who @annmarlowe identified worked at Robert Fraser & Partners, which was backed financially by Robert Maxwell


Ghislaine Maxwell, who procured underage girls and was the daughter of Mossad operative and UK publishing magnate Robert Maxwell – who was, in turn, the man allegedly responsible for getting Russian mafia don Semyon Mogilevich an Israeli passport and allowing his organized crime network to flourish around the world.


The episode also touches on corruption in Israel linked to Trump, including the relationship between Netanyahu and the Kushners, the role of Black Cube, the abuse of right of return privileges in Israel by criminals and oligarchs from the former USSR, and one-issue mega-donor Sheldon Adelson’s enormous influence of the GOP and policy in the Middle East.


Black Cube Israeli Intelligence
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Dec 06, 2018 7:49 pm

Israeli Intelligence Company Formed Venture With Trump Campaign Firm Cambridge Analytica

Psy-Group is owned by entrepreneur Joel Zamel, who has been questioned by special-counsel investigators

By Byron Tau and Rebecca Ballhaus Updated May 23, 2018 1:00 a.m. ET
WASHINGTON—A company owned by Joel Zamel, an Israeli entrepreneur whose work has drawn the scrutiny of special counsel Robert Mueller, formed a strategic partnership with a data firm for President Donald Trump’s campaign in a joint bid to win business from the U.S. government and other clients after the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Psy-Group, one of Mr. Zamel’s firms, signed a memorandum of understanding with Cambridge Analytica LLC, a digital media firm that helped propel Mr. Trump to the presidency, these people said. Facebook Inc. in March suspended Cambridge over allegations that it improperly harvested the data of millions of Facebook users, accusations that in part led to the firm’s closure earlier this month.

The Dec. 14, 2016, memorandum, as described to The Wall Street Journal, outlines a partnership whereby the two firms could cooperate on a case-by-case basis to provide intelligence and social-media services, or pitch business to an array of clients.

A person familiar with the work of Psy-Group, a private intelligence firm, said the partnership was intended in part to help win government contracts—something that Cambridge and its parent company, SCL Group, were aggressively seeking to do as their allies in the Trump administration took power, according to people familiar with the efforts.

The existence of the memorandum is an example of how the president’s allies sought to gain entry and influence in Washington after the election.

SCL Group won a $500,000 contract from the State Department starting in February 2017 aimed at providing “target audience research,” according to federal records. No government contracts have been awarded to the Psy-Group, according to public records, though not all government contracts—for example, in the arena of intelligence and foreign policy—are publicly disclosed.

A spokesman for SCL and for Cambridge Analytica didn’t respond to requests to comment.

Marc Mukasey, a lawyer for Mr. Zamel, said his client “had nothing to do with Cambridge Analytica.” He has previously said investigators have told him Mr. Zamel isn’t a target of the Mueller investigation.

A person familiar with the memo between Cambridge and Psy-Group, which was first reported by Bloomberg, said it was signed without Mr. Zamel’s involvement. It was unclear whether Mr. Zamel was aware of the deal at the time it was reached.

Mr. Zamel has met with Mr. Mueller’s investigators, who appear to have expanded their inquiries to questions about the influence of a Gulf monarchy during the 2016 election, the Journal has previously reported. Mr. Mueller is investigating whether Trump associates colluded with Russia in the 2016 U.S. election. Mr. Trump denies colluding with Russia, and Moscow denies that it meddled in the election.

In the months before the 2016 election, Mr. Zamel met with Donald Trump Jr., Mr. Trump’s eldest son, at Trump Tower along with George Nader, a top adviser to the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, to discuss an offer from Messrs. Zamel and Nader to help boost the campaign, the Journal has previously reported. Mr. Zamel is said to be close to top officials in the U.A.E.

Cambridge Analytica earlier this month announced it was shutting down its operations, along with its U.S. and U.K. affiliates SCL Group and SCL Elections. The firm is liquidating its assets, an administrator for the firm said Tuesday.

Cambridge Analytica faced mounting legal fees in the U.K.’s investigation of the data firm and was rapidly losing clients, according to people familiar with the matter. In March, it suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix, after undercover journalists at British broadcaster Channel 4 released a video that depicted him describing campaign tactics he said the company had used, among them entrapping political opponents with bribes and sex.

In the video, Mr. Nix said Cambridge Analytica used Israeli companies in its campaign efforts. “We use some British companies, we use some Israeli companies,” he said. “From Israel. Very effective in intelligence gathering.”

Mr. Nix has said he regretted his role in the video, and Cambridge Analytica has said it didn’t use the tactics he described.

One person familiar with the work of both firms said Mr. Nix in the video appeared to be referring to Psy-Group, which does work that tracks closely with Mr. Nix’s description. The intelligence firm’s website says the company’s motto is “shape reality.”

Some of Psy-Group’s work involves setting up “honey traps”—real-world scenarios where people are caught saying embarrassing or incriminating things to gain leverage over them—sometimes using the promise of a romantic relationship as part of the approach, which often begins online, according to people familiar with the firm’s operations.

“The general aim is to get their trust, take that relationship to the next level,” said one person who was familiar with the company’s work. “In many cases, they are able to take that relationship offline. Then they can meet in real life.”

After the 2016 election, Cambridge Analytica aggressively pitched federal agencies, often partnering with larger corporations, according to a person familiar with the efforts.

A wave of negative publicity over the course of 2017 slowed the company’s efforts. When news first emerged last fall that Mr. Nix had contacted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during the election, some companies told Cambridge Analytica they no longer wanted its involvement in pitching the government, the person said. Recent revelations over the company’s alleged use of Facebook data brought about “the biggest drop-off,” the person said.

Sometime around 2014, Mr. Zamel began making contacts in the U.A.E., becoming close to the national security adviser there, people familiar with the matter said. A Zamel-owned consulting firm, Wikistrat, which aimed to crowdsource expert opinions on geopolitical problems for corporate clients and governments, conducted war-games scenarios for the government of the U.A.E., though many of the company’s employees remained in the dark about who they were working for, they said. Former employees say that it became increasingly clear that the U.A.E. government was one of the firm’s major clients.

At some point during this time period, Mr. Zamel also launched Psy-Group. In early 2016, the firm began using a London-based headhunter to look for a head of sales—possibly based in the U.S., according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The head of sales position was marked “confidential,” and a pitch in the documents described Psy-Group as a firm that is “founded and is managed by an experienced group of former high-ranking officers from elite units of some of the world’s most renowned intelligence agencies.”

“Their team has a proven track record in information gathering, analysis, research, special intelligence operations and technology in the physical and cyber domains,” the document said.

Mr. Zamel’s interest in running Wikistrat began to wane around the same time. The firm had one year of profitability, according to one person familiar with its balance sheets, and in 2015 had approximately $6 million in gross revenues, the person said. Mr. Zamel put Wikistrat up for sale in 2016, sending a prospectus to a number of companies looking for a buyer, according to a person who has seen the document.

The person said Mr. Zamel was seeking about $25 million for the company. It hasn’t found a buyer.

Corrections & Amplifications
Wikistrat was put up for sale in 2016. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said it had been put up for sale in 2015. (May 23)

Write to Byron Tau at and Rebecca Ballhaus at ... Nxl0y9KZwP
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby Grizzly » Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:19 pm

Look up AMDOCS and 911 ...^^^ I'VE tried to post about it for over an hour without success.
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Dec 07, 2018 5:36 pm

David Carroll

Verified account

NEWS: I prevailed! Cambridge Analytica’s administrators attempting to liquidate have conceded to our concerns about my undisclosed data. They have 14 days to fully disclose. Have they misled the court? Matter referred to the High Court. Stay tuned. Thanks as always to @RaviNa1k

Image ... 7743793153

Robert Mueller got another cooperator

Sam Patten, an associate of Paul Manafort and Cambridge Analytica, struck a plea deal.

Andrew ProkopAug 31, 2018, 2:07pm EDT
The Mueller investigation has resulted in yet another plea deal. Sam Patten, a Republican lobbyist, pleaded guilty Friday to violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act in his unregistered work for a Ukrainian politician and a Ukrainian oligarch — and agreed to cooperate with the government.

Patten was charged by the US attorney’s office for the District of Columbia. But Mueller’s team referred the investigation there and Patten’s plea agreement specifically says he must cooperate with the special counsel’s office. Andrew Weissmann, an attorney on Mueller’s team, attended Patten’s hearing Friday.

There are several similarities between Patten’s work and the unregistered Ukrainian lobbying allegations against Paul Manafort. Like Manafort, Patten worked for Ukraine’s pro-Russian political faction. Like Manafort, his payments went through offshore accounts in Cyprus.

Also like Manafort, Patten worked closely with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian national who Mueller claims is tied to Russian intelligence services. (Mueller indicted Kilimnik alongside Manafort this year for attempted witness tampering, but he is overseas and has not been arrested.)

Weissmann, who attended the Patten hearing, is Mueller’s lead attorney handling the prosecution of Manafort. Manafort was convicted of eight counts of financial crimes in Virginia last week, but he is scheduled to face another trial on conspiracy, unregistered lobbying, and witness tampering charges in Washington, DC, next month.

What Sam Patten pleaded guilty to doing

According to the criminal information document filed by the DC US attorney’s office, Patten and Kilimnik (who is not named but referred to as “Foreigner A”) founded a lobbying and consulting company together. They did campaign work in Ukraine and lobbying work in the US, and were paid over $1 million between 2015 and 2017.

Specifically, the document claims that Patten contacted members of Congress and their staffers, State Department officials, and members of the press on behalf of his Ukrainian clients — all without registering under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, as required by law.

Patten also admits to helping his Ukrainian oligarch client get around the prohibition on foreign donations to Donald Trump’s inauguration committee. The oligarch sent $50,000 to Patten’s company, and then he gave that money to a US citizen, who bought the four tickets. The tickets were given to the oligarch, Kilimnik, another Ukrainian, and Patten himself.

Finally, Patten also admits to misleading the Senate Intelligence Committee and withholding documents from them during testimony this January.

Who is Sam Patten?

Patten worked for George W. Bush’s State Department, and according to his website, he’s done work in Ukraine, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Iraq, and Russia. He also worked as the Eurasian program director at Freedom House, a group that promotes democracy and human rights, between 2009 and 2011.

Patten’s ties to Kilimnik were known publicly and described in profiles by the Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay and the Atlantic’s Natasha Bertrand earlier this year. Indeed, Patten even publicly defended Kilimnik in the press when he came under Mueller’s scrutiny this year.

Intriguingly, Patten is also tied to the controversial political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. Patten told the Daily Beast earlier this year that he worked with the company in its 2014 US elections work and on “several overseas campaigns.”

Cambridge later did work for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and came under investigative scrutiny for, among other things, its use of Facebook data. Mueller’s team reportedly looked into Cambridge Analytica in their Russia probe, but has not charged any matter related to the firm.

This is the third known referral by Robert Mueller to other Justice Department offices — but now, Patten is cooperating with Mueller

Either because of lack of resources or a desire to avoid expanding his probe too much beyond the central players in the Russia investigation, Mueller is now known to have referred several potentially criminal matters he has discovered to other offices in the Justice Department to investigate.

The special counsel reportedly referred another inquiry of prominent Washington figures’ Ukrainian lobbying to the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), this one concerning Tony Podesta, Vin Weber, and Greg Craig. (This trio worked with Manafort and his associate Rick Gates on some of their Ukraine projects.)

Mueller also referred the investigation of Michael Cohen for tax and campaign finance violations to SDNY (though he appears to have continued investigating Cohen on matters related to Russia). Cohen pleaded guilty on eight counts in the SDNY case last week.

The charge here — not registering as a foreign agent under FARA — is believed to be widespread in Washington, but it is rarely prosecuted. Mueller’s probe, however, seems to have turned up a plethora of evidence of such violations, even for figures he hasn’t closely focused on.

The Patten investigation is the third known probe Mueller has referred. Yet this does not seem to have been a complete handoff, since his plea agreement specifically mentions he must cooperate with the special counsel’s office. So Patten has become Mueller’s newest cooperator. ... a-manafort
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Dec 08, 2018 12:40 pm

Sources, records show Cambridge Analytica employees in NC

By Travis Fain, WRAL statehouse reporter, & Laura Leslie, WRAL Capitol Bureau chief
Raleigh, N.C.

Posted March 30
Updated July 13

— British contractors from Cambridge Analytica were "all over" state Republican Party offices in the closing months of North Carolina's 2014 U.S. Senate election, according to sources close to the party.

One North Carolina source said the company, under fire over its use of Facebook data and under investigation for its methods in British politics, had three employees embedded with the North Carolina Republican Party. Two other sources said there were at least two people.

That's consistent with what Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie, who kicked off international inquiries of the company, has said – Cambridge Analytica had "three or four" full-time staffers, none of them U.S. citizens, in the state for the successful 2014 effort to elect U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis.

These would have been among the dozens of non-U.S. citizens The Washington Post has reported Cambridge Analytica assigned to GOP campaigns in the U.S. in 2014.

Federal election regulations limit the role foreign nationals can play in U.S. campaigns. Wylie and anonymous former Cambridge Analytica employees have also accused the company of using ill-gotten private information from more than 50 million Facebook users to build voter profiles that then were used to target political messages.

Documents released by the British Parliament this week include references to personality profiles built for North Carolina's 2014 elections: Lazy Liberals, Turnout Targets, Priority Persuasion and Wild Cards. The company and its parent, SCL, worked not only for the Tillis campaign and the state GOP in 2014 but also for a Super PAC headed by John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations whom President Donald Trump recently named as national security adviser.

The companies did micro-targeting: predicting what messages would work for certain people and suggesting ways to tailor ads and get-out-the-vote efforts.

A complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday – it is at least the second FEC complaint naming the company – accuses Bolton's Super PAC of making illegal contributions either to the North Carolina Republican Party or the Tillis campaign by financing coordinated communications through Cambridge Analytica, which was a mutual vendor.

A Bolton spokesman called these allegations "frivolous."

"There was no coordination, direct or indirect, between the John Bolton Super PAC and the Tillis campaign, and the John Bolton Super PAC did not discuss any election-related, or any other topics, with the individuals named in the complaint," spokesman Garrett Marquis said in an email.

In North Carolina, top Tillis campaign operatives and party leaders from 2014 have largely declined to discuss the company on the record, though Tillis has issued three written statements and former state GOP Chairman Claude Pope shared his limited memories of the company's involvement this week. The Tillis campaign responded to the new FEC complaint by saying that, "if anything improper was done by the vendor Cambridge Analytica during the course of the election, it was done without the campaign’s knowledge or consent."

The campaign paid Cambridge Analytica $130,000, or slightly more than 1 percent of its $10.5 million in direct campaign spending. Tillis has characterized the company's role as "limited."

Democrats have trouble accepting that. The bulk of payment from the Tillis campaign came in 2015, after the election, and has been characterized by the campaign as a "win bonus." Tillis campaign records show a number of 2014 vendors receiving payments in 2015, but it's impossible to tell from the records what was considered a win bonus for the 2014 campaign.

Tillis's 2015 payment to Cambridge Analytica was broken into four installments of $25,000 each: two in April, one in July and a final payment four days before Christmas. Campaign finance entries simply describe payments as "micro-targeting."

The Tillis campaign also said any foreign nationals on the ground in North Carolina worked for the state party, not his campaign. State GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse, who was not with the party in 2014, told The Washington Post last week that "no foreign workers worked for us."

But Woodhouse told WRAL News he didn't know if any of the party's contractors had foreign nationals working for them, and he has actively dissuaded party leaders from 2014 from speaking to reporters, saying the party must speak with one voice. Woodhouse said the party simply contracted with a vendor and wouldn't have known its workers' nationalities.

Sources who worked with the party in 2014 said it was obvious.

"I totally remember the British guys coming down," one said. "Everybody raved about how good they are."

Another said the consultants "ran around ... and told everybody to do this message or that message."

Without acknowledging this, Woodhouse has said repeatedly that it wouldn't be illegal to use foreign workers on a campaign because they wouldn't have made decisions. That's an important distinction under federal election rules, as well as a gray area.

Common Cause, a left-leaning watchdog group, filed a Department of Justice complaint seeking a criminal investigation into Cambridge Analytica and SCL, which has been described both as a parent company and a sister company. The group filed a companion complaint with the FEC.

Based on Wylie's claims, news reports and the way other former Cambridge workers have described their work, "there is reason to believe" foreign contractors participated in "the decision making of US political committee clients," the twin complaints state.

Woodhouse and other North Carolina sources deny that happened here. One former party staffer, who would not comment without anonymity, said party leadership made "every single decision in terms of messaging, allocation of resources for mail, digital."

Pope said the British consultants "certainly made recommendations," but decisions depended on much more input.

"(They said), 'This precinct you ought to target before this other precinct,'" Pope said. "But ultimately, where we deployed people was kind of in concert with the [Republican National Committee] and the state party and whatnot. And that also depends on your resources."

Cambridge Analytica denies charges

Cambridge Analytica has denied most of the accusations against it.

It has said repeatedly that Wylie left the company in July 2014 and "has no direct knowledge of the company’s work or practices since that date." The company also has pointed to a memo from its legal team that summarizes company policy: non-U.S. nationals can work on U.S. campaigns "only in non-strategic (i.e. functionary) roles."

"We strictly adhere to this policy in all of our US political work," the company said in a written statement.

Cambridge Analytica's London offices were raided earlier this month by Britain's Information Commissioner's Office, which is reportedly interested in work the company did on the country's 2016 vote to leave the European Union. Also, Chief Executive Alexander Nix was suspended after a British television station publicized video of him discussing entrapment and bribing politicians, including the potential of using beautiful Ukrainian women in company operations.

In the U.S., special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly probing the company as he investigates Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

One potential connection is Alexsandr Kogan, the Cambridge University researcher who obtained the personal Facebook data of up to 50 million people for academic study, then formed his own company and contracted out the data to Cambridge Analytica. At the time, Kogan was also working on a research project on social media in Russia at St. Petersburg State University.

Other links between the company and the Trump campaign include Steve Bannon, Trump's former campaign manager and adviser, who was on the board of directors at Cambridge Analytica. Also, the company was funded by the Mercer family, which is a major player in U.S. Republican politics and helped fund the Trump campaign.

Robert Mercer was also the top donor for the John Bolton Super PAC, which focused largely on foreign policy and national security issues and not only worked to elect Tillis in 2014 but also to re-elect U.S. Sen. Richard Burr in 2016.

The PAC used Cambridge Analytica in both election cycles, spending about $341,000 in 2014 and $811,000 in the 2016 cycle. The PAC supported several candidates in several states, including both Tillis and Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr in North Carolina.

A Burr spokesman did not return a request for comment. The Bolton PAC has denied wrongdoing in blanket statements, largely responding to concerns from 2014, saying its agreements with Cambridge Analytica included assurances the company had rights to the data it used and that "no individuals at Cambridge Analytica, foreign or otherwise, made any strategic decision regarding election-related activities."

Pope, the former state GOP chairman, described company's role in North Carolina as one vendor of many doing the same sort of analytical work that former President Barack Obama's presidential campaign pioneered, largely catching Republicans flat-footed in 2012.

The state GOP spent $215,000 with Cambridge Analytica in 2014 and 2015, and Pope said the 2015 payments were likely costs invoiced in 2014 but not paid until the next year. The party was the company's fourth-largest client in 2014.

"You can try to connect dots," Pope said. "I don't really think there are dots to connect. I didn't even know who Steve Bannon was."

Another source from the party's 2014 operations said there was a "very strict firewall" between the Cambridge Analytica team and party leadership.

One of the FEC complaints against Bolton's Super PAC states that firewalls can be created, but "the evidence indicates that any such firewall was ignored" in the PAC's case. This complaint, from the Campaign Legal Center, accuses the Bolton PAC of making "excessive and unreported contributions" to the state GOP or the Tillis campaign "by financing coordinated communications" through a vendor all three had in common in 2014: Cambridge Analytica.

The center's founder and president is Trevor Potter, a former FEC chairman appointed by President George H.W. Bush.

Wylie testified before Parliament this month that Mercer used the company to skirt campaign finance laws by putting money into the firm and then having the firm work on political causes – at least in Britain – for less than market rate.

North Carolina sources have said Cambridge Analytica seemed eager to break into U.S. politics, and one source told WRAL News the company lowered its initial asking price substantially to get the contract with the state GOP.

Cambridge employee's online portfolio changed

Many of the accusations in the Campaign Legal Center's complaint track back to a former Cambridge Analytica employee's online portfolio.

Tim Glister was one of the company's workers in North Carolina in 2014, according to reporting first done by Bloomberg and according to Glister's portfolio and social media accounts.

Glister's website initially said he spent three months on a team, "helping Thom Tillis' successful senatorial campaign create highly targeted advertising that harnessed SCL's national database of voter issue sentiment and psychographic profiles." The video advertisement Glister's site featured was an ad paid for by the Bolton Super-PAC.

After Rachel Maddow's MSNBC news show reached out to Glister, the site changed, saying Glister "provided a local political party with voter sentiment analysis they used in support of Thom Tillis' successful senatorial campaign."

Glister's website has since become password protected, but WRAL News obtained screenshots of the changes, which were also featured on Maddow's show. Glister did not return messages WRAL left for him at his current job in England.

Like Glister, Cambridge Analytica bragged online about its role in the Tillis election, saying it was "able to accurately predict partisanship, turnout, issue importance and build psychographic profiles for all voters in North Carolina" and that it identified national security as the top issue among targeted voters here. This information was used to criticize Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan's poor attendance record at Senate Armed Services Committee hearings, which was the subject of numerous ads in the 2014 race.

North Carolina sources have said Cambridge Analytica is overstating its role in a massive operation, as political consultants often do after a victory. Tillis told reporters during a short walk-and-talk interview in Washington, D.C., that he had "very limited interaction" with British contractors during that race. He said that included one encounter with Nix, the suspended CEO, but that he didn't remember anything about it, "except I was in the same room."

Tillis also said his campaign team looked into the allegations when the Cambridge Analytica story first broke and that the firm played "a relatively small part" in his election campaign.

"We think it was a de-minimis influence, but we're looking at it," he said. "If it was something that was inappropriate, then we'll be the first to call it out."

What constitutes campaign decision-making?

Federal law bans campaign donations of "money or other thing of value" from foreign nationals, but it doesn't actually say it's illegal for foreign workers to make decisions in a campaign.

That language comes from FEC regulations that expand on the law and say foreign nationals "shall not direct, dictate, control, or directly or indirectly participate in the decision-making process" of campaigns.

The regulation gives limited examples: They can't make "decisions concerning the making of contributions, donations, expenditures, or disbursements in connection with elections ... or decisions concerning the administration of a political committee."

Just what that means in practice is difficult to say.

"Foreign nationals might be able to work on campaigns, but they could not provide strategic decisions and help on strategy/substantive decision making," said Common Cause Chief of Strategy & External Affairs Stephen Spaulding, who has also been special counsel to an FEC commissioner.

Marshall Hurley, a campaign finance attorney in North Carolina who served as general counsel for the state Republican Party from 2004 to 2009, said decision-making on a campaign can be "a pretty nebulous thing."

"When I was running it, we were always on guard against the contributions from foreigners," Hurley said. "And we were just talking about checks. We weren't talking about activisim."

Michael Weisel, who does campaign finance work in North Carolina for Democrats, said in an email there are no clear guidelines and that the FEC has given conflicting advice in this area over the years.

A memo written by an attorney for Cambridge Analytica and widely reported by national media warned against using foreigners on high-level analysis or strategy, saying they could serve in minor roles as "functionaries" handling data, for example.

"Remember, it is the ability to influence the expenditures of campaign dollars, at the federal state or local level, that is prohibited," the memo states.

According to The Washington Post, former Cambridge Analytica workers said they regularly discussed concerns about legality of their work.

"We knew that everything was not above board, but we weren't too concerned about it," one unnamed source told the newspaper. "It was the Wild West. That's certainly how they carried on in 2014."

Republicans urged not to talk

WRAL News reached out to more than 20 Republican operatives and vendors who worked for the party, the Tillis campaign or both in 2014.

Most wouldn't speak. Woodhouse said many called him instead.

"I'm going to shut it down every time," he said. "I don't want numerous people, four years later, speaking for the party."

Woodhouse has been speaking for the party, even though he was an outside political consultant in 2014 not employed by the state GOP.

Todd Poole, who held Woodhouse's position in 2014, declined to comment for this story, as did Paul Shumaker, a lead consultant for both the Tillis and Burr campaigns, and Jordan Shaw, Tillis' 2014 campaign manager.

Woodhouse has pushed back against the idea that foreign contractors worked out of the party's Raleigh office, despite a trio of sources who told WRAL News they did.

"None," he said at one point. "There was nobody camped out here."

At another point, he said he could "accept other people said it. I just can't independently verify it."

Woodhouse and others have also sought to minimize the role Cambridge Analytica played, calling them one source of data, not the source of data. Woodhouse said neither the party, nor Shumaker, would limit themselves to single data source "because, if they're wrong, you lose."

"Whatever they did ... at some point, it comes to us, and we decide," Woodhouse said.

Editor's Note: This story has been edited to clarify that certain statements came from the Tillis campaign, not from Sen. Thom Tillis himself. Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, has issued a statement contesting several elements of this story; you can read his full statement here. WRAL stands by its reporting and the accuracy of this story.

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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Dec 10, 2018 4:54 pm

Cambridge Analytica’s Real Role in Trump’s Dark Facebook Campaign

New data has opened a small window into Trump’s social-media machinery, and in particular the role played by the now-defunct Cambridge Analytica.

12.10.18 5:06 AM ET
Donald Trump’s Facebook campaign was crucial to his 2016 success, but two years later the nuts and bolts of the operation that helped sweep Trump into the White House remain hard to come by.

Now new data has opened a small window into Trump’s social-media machinery, and in particular the role played by the now-defunct Cambridge Analytica, a U.K. digital black-ops firm that collapsed this year following revelations that it acquired and used detailed Facebook profile information on 87 million people without their knowledge.

In the wake of the privacy scandal, Trump and Republican National Committee officials have sought to distance the campaign from Cambridge Analytica. But questions persist. Last year, Robert Mueller sought emails between Cambridge Analytica and Trump campaign staffers, and in March Mueller’s team questioned former campaign officials about the U.K. firm’s work for Trump.

A similar probing is playing out in the Senate Intelligence Committee's Russia investigation. As The Daily Beast reported Thursday, Senate investigators interrogated Steve Bannon about Cambridge Analytica behind closed doors last month.

Public statements and insider accounts have painted a muddled and contradictory picture on the key question of whether Trump’s Facebook campaign targeted voters using Cambridge’s vast store of dubiously acquired data, once described by the company as containing 4,000 data points on some 230 million Americans.

Now a New York digital-marketing consultant has unearthed a trove of digital artifacts from Trump’s social-media campaign that provides the first hard evidence that Team Trump made continuous use of audience lists created by Cambridge Analytica to target a portion of its “dark ads” on Facebook. The ads were deployed from July 2016 through the end of the election—and beyond, to the inauguration in January 2017.

A Trump 2016 campaign official confirmed those findings to The Daily Beast, but claimed that Cambridge Analytica built the audience lists from the RNC’s database of voters and not its internal data store.

At issue are the “dark ads” or “dark posts” that underpinned Trump’s 2016 social-media campaign. Until recently, advertisers could use Facebook’s precision-targeting tools to run ads that nobody except the targets would ever see, evading broader scrutiny. Those hidden ads have been the center of attention since a 2016 Bloomberg News story reported that Trump was using dark ads to stealthily target black Americans and other likely Clinton voters and urge them to stay home on Election Day.

The Trump campaign has disputed the story, and no such ads have ever surfaced publicly. But few dispute that Facebook’s system carried the potential for such abuse.

Under pressure, this year Facebook created a tool allowing any user to look up past and current political ads regardless of the targeting, but the tool does not extend back to the 2016 election, and Facebook has resisted calls to make ads from the presidential race public.

But some traces remain.

Emily Las, a digital marketer and former VP at MasterCard, has spent the last year extracting remnants of Trump’s Facebook campaign through and beyond Election Day 2016. So far, her work has unearthed more than 1,200 tracking links for different Trump ads, and live content for hundreds of the ads.

That’s a minuscule slice of a campaign that reportedly launched 5.9 million ads, but every tracking link carries a DNA strand of data about the overall campaign in the form of UTM (“Urchin Tracking Module”) codes. These codes, long cryptic sequences of characters, allow an advertiser to track an ad’s performance.

The UTM parameters are a kind of digital hobo’s code, obscure to the consumers who click on them, but mostly legible to anyone steeped in digital marketing, as Las has been for years. She’s been dissecting her collection of 1,200 links under a microscope and breaking out every data point in a meticulous spreadsheet. “When the RNC took over, you can tell it becomes a more sophisticated operation,” she said. “They’re tracking every little element of the ad."

Over time, Las has developed a deep picture of some aspects of Trump’s Facebook campaign, details like which technology partners Trump used at various points in the campaign, and what the intended purpose of each ad was.

The ads in her collection were predominantly coded for fundraising, under a handful of industry standard subcategories. “Retention” ads, for example, were deployed to encourage past donors to donate again. These ads frequently offered enticements like a sweepstakes drawing for lunch or dinner with Trump, a place on a “donor wall” in Trump Tower, or simply a promise that every donor’s name would be inscribed on a list of patriotic supporters that would be delivered into Trump’s hands.

Another subcategory called “prospecting” refers to ad buys designed to lure targets into providing their email address for the campaign’s list, which is now a valuable commodity in itself. Las’ data suggests ersatz petition drives were Trump’s primary hook for this data collection, and the campaign’s prospecting continued well after Election Day. In the last year, prospecting ads have sent users to petitions to end “chain migration” and support Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

“When the RNC took over you can tell it becomes a more sophisticated operation. They’re tracking every little element of the ad.”

— Emily Las, a digital marketer who's extracted remnants of Trump’s Facebook campaign

The most intriguing tidbits in the UTM codes are those that categorize the Facebook “audience” being targeted—meaning a set of users picked to receive a certain ad, or to serve as a template for Facebook’s “lookalike audience” matching feature. In about 10 percent of her tracking links, the audience is described as “CambridgeAudience” or “CambridgeAnalytica.”

Cambridge Analytica was a data-mining and influence firm partially bankrolled by the Mercer family and co-founded by former Trump consigliere Steve Bannon, who also served on the board. The company touted its ability to influence behavior using an electronic store of information on consumers, including 4,000 data points on 230 million Americans.

The Trump campaign paid Cambridge Analytica nearly $6 million in 2016. Campaign officials have said $5 million of that money was earmarked for TV ads, and that the company itself was only paid about $800,000.

Whatever the amount, Cambridge Analytica fell into disrepute this year over new revelations about its sneaky acquisition of profile data on 87 million Facebook users, which it was allegedly using to build psychological models. At the same time, a hidden-camera sting by Britain’s Channel 4 caught company executives boasting of the firm’s skill at executing covert, untraceable election-interference ops using a combination of data analytics, fake news, false-front organizations, and timeworn dirty tricks like hiring prostitutes to lure a rival candidate into a honey trap.

The Trump campaign was drawn into the controversy by Cambridge CEO Alexander Nix, who was heard on one of the undercover videos boasting about his company’s work for Trump and effectively claiming credit for the Apprentice star’s election victory.

Cambridge Analytica, Nix said, “did all the research, all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting, we ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign, and our data informed all the strategy.”

Parscale, who’d hired the firm, called out Nix’s boast as “false and ridiculous,” and in the months since he and other Trump and RNC officials have been busy downplaying Cambridge Analytica’s work for the campaign.

In Parscale’s account, he was never interested in Cambridge Analytica’s vaunted databases, just its people. In particular, Parscale had been eager to poach the firm’s product chief, data guru Matt Oczkowski. When he couldn’t hire Oczkowki away from the firm, he resorted to engaging the company as a kind of high-end temp agency just to get Oczkowski and his team to San Antonio.

“I asked them for an employment contract and I hired them for staff only,” Parscale said in an interview with PBS Frontline last month. “So each one of the payments between then and Election Day was for staff only.”

As for what Cambridge’s team actually did, Parscale said they “mainly ran polling, visualization, and support staff for all of the things we needed to do.” He emphasized again that he didn’t “hire Cambridge Analytica… for any of their data.”

This portrait of the Cambridge team as de facto Trump employees doesn’t fit easily with the evidence uncovered by Las, which shows a steady stream of ads targeted to “Cambridge” audiences. The Cambridge references are found in 120 out of 1,200 ad links, spread evenly from July 2016 to January 2017, when a slew of retention ads used inauguration tickets and memorabilia as a dangle.

An official from Trump’s 2016 campaign, speaking to The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity, confirmed that these links were for ads targeted by Cambridge Analytica. But the official said the audience lists were built in San Antonio by Cambridge workers who didn’t use their company’s data. Instead, the underlying “first person” data came from the RNC’s list and the Trump campaign’s internal database, code-named Alamo.

Cambridge’s Oczkowski, who’s now working for Trump 2020 through his own firm, has backed up that claim following Cambridge’s scandals. Prior to those scandals, though, he explicitly described Cambridge’s dataset as part of the Trump operation.

“On the targeting piece, we’re talking about building a database, working with the RNC, the Alamo database, and then leveraging Cambridge’s database.”

— Matt Oczkowski, Cambridge data chief, who’s now working for Trump 2020 through his own firm

In a December 2016 Google roundtable discussion, Oczkowski expounded on the complexity of bootstrapping Trump’s social-media campaign from three disparate data sources, including Cambridge Analytics.

“On the targeting piece, we’re talking about building a database, working with the RNC, the Alamo database, and then leveraging Cambridge’s database,” he said. “Combining those three things together, building partisanship models, 12 issue sets, the basic building blocks you need from a campaign.”

If Oczkowski misspoke, the other Trump campaign officials on the panel didn’t say anything, including the RNC’s Gary Coby, who served as Trump’s digital ads and fundraising director, and Parscale himself.

The shifting storylines surrounding the most successful social-media ad campaign in history is what sent Emily Las digging for clues last year. “I’m still fixated on understanding 2016,” she told The Daily Beast. “I really wanted to know what they did, and the more information that came out, the more that it didn’t make sense to me. And I thought, nobody’s going to tell me, so I’m just going to build it up.” Las was particularly intrigued by the 2016 Bloomberg News profile of Brad Parscale. Bloomberg reported that Parscale was operating three highly targeted voter-suppression campaigns discouraging white liberals, young women, and black Americans from turning out for Hillary Clinton on Election Day. The effort reportedly included a dark post on Facebook consisting of a South Park-style animation titled “Hillary Thinks African Americans are Super Predators.”

In addition to the tracking links, Las has discovered and documented hundreds of Trump 2016 dark posts that are still alive deep in Facebook’s servers. Hidden outside the reach of Facebook’s search engine and not displayed on any timeline, the ads, including nearly 500 distinct videos, are findable only by those who know the link.

So far there are no surprises in the ads—they don’t differ in tone from the Trump campaign’s overt messaging or Donald Trump’s public statements at rallies. Some, however, illustrate the A/B testing that Trump’s digital team touted in interviews.

For example, in mid-August 2016, the campaign promoted a seven-day “Trump train” fundraising drive. Two of the unearthed versions of the ads feature the text, “$7 million. In 7 days. Welcome to the #TrumpTrain. Fuelled by... America.” But one version of the ad is accompanied by jazzy, percussive music, a voice-over, and stock footage depicting the “Trump train” as a sleek, fast-moving passenger train. A second version has brighter music, no voice-over, and the Trump train is now a freight train chugging unhurriedly through the heartland.

Similarly, a post-election ad from Oct. 19 of last year urged Trump supporters to enter a raffle and win an all-expenses paid dinner with the president. But while some supporters were presented with a vanilla ad, others saw the same video with a “BREAKING NEWS” banner and a fake countdown timer, warning that less than five minutes remained to enter the drawing, which was actually set to close the next day.

Las, who is not a Trump supporter, forced herself to watch every variation of each of the recovered ads. “It’s like watching one long boring infomercial. This is just horrible quality. It’s cheesy."

But in all her sleuthing, Las hasn’t turned up any evidence of the supposed dark-ad voter-suppression campaign that first sent her down the tracking-link rabbit hole.

The official from Trump’s 2016 campaign said there’s a reason for that: Trump had no voter-suppression ads. Bloomberg’s reporting, the official said, was based on a proposal floated by an in-house vendor but never approved nor implemented.

On this point, Las finds herself in rare agreement with the Trump campaign. “There’s nothing in here that feels like it’s about suppression,” she said. After a year of searching, “I don’t think it exists.” ... itter_page
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