Speed Reads

Things that make you go hmmm

Cambridge Analytica reportedly sent foreigners to work on GOP campaigns

As part of a program called Project Ripon, the data firm Cambridge Analytica sent dozens of non-U.S. citizens to work on campaign strategy and messaging for Republican candidates in 2014, three former employees told The Washington Post.

Cambridge Analytica is based in London, and a New York attorney prepared a memo that year warning company executives — including President Rebekah Mercer, Vice President Stephen Bannon, and chief executive Alexander Nix — that U.S. law prohibits foreign nationals from "directly or indirectly participating in the decision-making process" of a campaign. The former employees said that Project Ripon involved advising campaigns on how to use data to find "hidden Republicans" and target them with individualized messages, and that staffers would often discuss whether the documents they filed with U.S. immigration in order to work on the campaigns were truthful. "We knew that everything was not above board, but we weren't too concerned about it," one former employee told the Post. "It was the Wild West. That's certainly how they carried on in 2014."

Documents obtained by the Post show that the Cambridge Analytica employees did everything from fundraising to planning events to helping with debate prep, and Project Ripon's "dirty little secret was that there was no one American involved in it, that it was a de facto foreign agent, working on an American election," former employee Christopher Wylie told the Post. Wylie is a London-based Canadian whistleblower who revealed last week that Cambridge Analytica acquired the data of tens of millions of Facebook users from a researcher who collected it under false pretenses.