Data firm Cambridge Analytica has made headlines in recent weeks after news reports surfaced that among other things, the data firm harvested user data from social media giant Facebook without the users’ consent, and later used the harvested data to create psychological profiles of voters for political campaign purposes. The public’s outrage following revelations of this massive invasion of privacy by Cambridge Analytica has seriously hampered its business operations with the latest reports suggesting that the data firm is shutting down. A lot of the outrage has also been directed at one of the data firm’s top executives, Rebekah Mercer because she doubles up as a GOP Super Donor. The daughter of Billionaire Hedge Fund Manager Robert Mercer, Rebekah was the major financial force behind then candidate Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign. A lot of the public outrage has therefore been directed at Rebekah Mercer in regards to the tactics Cambridge Analytica may have employed in the Trump campaign.
The Mainstream Media has paid little attention to the fact that prior to supporting the Trump campaign, Rebekah Mercer and her Cambridge Analytica were solidly behind then presidential candidate Ted Cruz. An interesting March 20, 2018 piece by The Dallas Morning News however has raised questions about the role Cambridge Analytica played in Ted Cruz’s Presidential Campaign. In the article members of the Texas Democratic Party blasted Cruz’s ties to Cambridge Analytica saying Cruz benefited from a “Massive invasion of privacy” and “deceitful activity”. Texas Democratic Party’s Deputy Executive Director Manny Garcia added, “Ted Cruz will stop at nothing to weasel his way into power, even if it means weaponizing stolen information to manipulate people to like him….Cruz’s campaign exploited personal information to create psychological profiles on millions of Americans. All to keep lining the pockets of Cruz’s billionaire super PAC donors — like Robert Mercer, who funded this propaganda machine.”
Cruz Campaign Spokeswoman Catherine Frazier responded to the attack by Texas Dems saying, “They[Cambridge Analytica] assured us the claims made in the press were false” adding that the Cruz Campaign relied on Cambridge Analytica’s assurances that “all data used by them were obtained legally, that they would conduct their operations ‘in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations,.”
The fact of the matter however is we now know through numerous subsequent revelations including by whistleblowers that Cambridge Analytica did indeed engage in very questionable and potentially illegal conduct and that Ted Cruz Campaign benefited from it. In a July 7, 2015 Politico piece for example, Ted Cruz campaign spokesman Rick Tyler is quoted as marvelling at the services of Cambridge Analytica during the Iowa Caucus saying “I’ve seen their product, and it’s better than anything I’ve ever seen.”
The same Politico piece also says that Cambridge Analytica sent its staff to work at Cruz Campaign Headquarters in Houston, Texas meaning some of Cambridge Analyica’s questionable tactics were also applied to Texas voters who use Facebook.
The response by Cruz Campaign Spokeswoman Catherine Frazier therefore, that they relied on Cambridge Analytica’s assurances not to invade people’s privacy does very little to answer the central charge levelled by Texas Democrats–that Cruz campaign benefited and is still benefiting from improperly/illegally obtained data. Nobody is faulting the Cruz Campaign for relying on Cambridge Analytica’s assurances. The fact of the matter is the data firm improperly/illegally acquired people’s data from Facebook and used it for the campaign’s benefit. This is now a proven fact not a supposition.
Even more troubling is the fact that Cruz Campaign may still be benefiting from this improperly/illegally obtained data in the U.S. Senate race against Democrat Beto O’Rourke—essentially running an illegal campaign. The Texas Republican Primary was held on March 1, 2016(Super Tuesday). At that time Cambridge Analytica was still in Cruz’s corner as he tried to fend off then candidate Donald Trump from scoring an upset victory in Texas.
Any reasonable person would therefore conclude that Cambridge Analytica did indeed harvest Texans’ Facebook data to help Cruz beat Trump in the Texas GOP Primary. It strains credulity to suggest that the Cruz Campaign is not using this information in their current heated battle against Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke for the U.S. Senate seat
Bottom line, a very plausible argument can be made(in federal court) that Ted Cruz’s previous ties to Cambridge Analytica render his current campaign for the U.S. Senate AN ILLEGAL CAMPAIGN borne out of, as Texas Dems put it, “A MASSIVE INVASION OF PRIVACY.” The DNC/Texas Dems should really explore a federal lawsuit against the Cruz Campaign. If such a venture were ever to materialize (Dems winning lawsuit), the DNC knows what to do, send Yours Truly a check for handing Dems the biggest prize in Elections 2018 (a coveted U.S. Senate seat from Texas) without ever casting a vote.
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