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The money behind Cambridge Analytica campaigns

By Laurie Bennett

July 16, 2017 at 8:47am

Congress and the Justice Department are taking a close look at the Trump campaign’s digital operations, headed by Jared Kushner, McClatchy reported last week.

Their focus is on whether campaign strategists directed Russian operatives to target persuadable voters in important districts.

If so, there is little doubt that a big data company called Cambridge Analytica will come under scrutiny.

As Muckety wrote in November, the company advised the Trump campaign on voter communication and ad strategy. “Online ads placed by the firm were viewed a staggering 1.5 billion times by millions of Americans, after the company ran 4,000 individual digital ad campaigns backing the Republican candidate,” the company said on its site.

The firm has done work not only for the Trump campaign, but for Breitbart News, the web site formerly headed by Steve Bannon, who is now chief strategist to the president. Bannon was an officer of Cambridge Analytica.

A major investor in the firm is Robert Mercer, a wealthy hedge funder who also poured money into Breitbart and into super PACs supporting first Ted Cruz and then Donald Trump.

Those super PACs also tapped the expertise of Cambridge Analytica, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

The interactive Muckety map above shows top donors to the PACs - Make America Number 1, ESAFund and B-PAC.

Two of the most generous contributors - Linda McMahon and Betsy DeVos - now hold high positions in the Trump administration. McMahon, former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, is the SBA administrator. DeVos, a longtime advocate of charter schools and wife of Amway heir Dick DeVos, is education secretary.

A third donor, Todd Ricketts, withdrew his name from consideration after Trump nominated him to be deputy commerce secretary. Ricketts, part of the Chicago Cubs’ ownership group, was unable to untangle his many financial holdings to meet conflict-of-interest prohibitions.

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