Cambridge Analytica, despite scrutiny, still pitching Colorado political campaigns for business

Company solicited Robinson campaign last week
Posted at 4:09 PM, Apr 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-03 10:33:58-04

DENVER – British data firm Cambridge Analytica continues to make overtures to political campaigns in Colorado – even as their work in the 2014 Colorado Senate race and in other campaigns, including President Donald Trump’s 2016 run, remains under heavy scrutiny.

Last week, a Washington, D.C.-based employee of Cambridge Analytica contacted the campaign of Doug Robinson, a Republican vying for the GOP nomination for governor this year.

“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,” said the employee in a voicemail left with Robinson’s campaign and obtained by Denver7.

The request shows that Cambridge Analytica is still actively trying to work for U.S. political campaigns despite being under scrutiny from Congress over its political activities in the U.S—some of which may have been illegal if foreigners worked on campaigns.

In December, CEO Alexander Nix, who has since been suspended by the company, told Forbes the company was shying away from working in America.

“The company will grow significantly this year, even in the absence of chasing any U.S. political business,” Nix said at the time.

But The Washington Post reported in February – also before the data scandal involving Cambridge Analytica and Facebook broke – that SCL Group, which is the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, was still increasing its footprint in the United States and meeting with federal agencies, like the Department of Homeland Security.

Since the data scandal broke after reports in the Observer and New York Times, Denver7 uncovered Cambridge Analytica’s work in Colorado.

The Republican-backed Senate Majority Fund used two Colorado political nonprofits, Concerned Citizens for Colorado and Centennial Coalition, to pay Cambridge Analytica about $460,000 total in 2014 and 2015 for various political consulting and campaign materials. Republicans were successful in regaining the majority of the state Senate in 2014, when most of the spending on Cambridge Analytica took place.

Last week, after the U.K.’s Channel 4 found in a report that the private Facebook data of 136,000 Coloradans was still floating around, the man who ran the Senate Majority Fund at the time said neither he nor anyone on his team were ever in possession of the Cambridge Analytica data.

“They were very secretive and guarded when it came to their database,” said Andy George, who still runs the fund. “It is one of the reasons we were skeptical of their product to begin with.”

He questioned who else in Colorado might be in possession of the data, and has said that if he had known of the questionable ways in which Cambridge Analytica is accused of obtaining the data, the fund wouldn’t have worked with the company.

But the latest overture to Robinson’s campaign shows the company is still at work.

The man who left a voicemail for Robinson’s campaign confirmed he worked for Cambridge Analytica and that he’d reached out to the campaign, when he was contacted by Denver7 Investigates. He withheld further comment pending approval from his superiors. Representatives at company headquarters have not immediately responded to Denver7’s email or voicemail.

Robinson told Denver7 his campaign wouldn’t be working with the company for numerous reasons.

“This is bad for the public, right? It’s bad for the political process to have yet another example of somebody who’s breaking the rules and thinking the rules don’t apply to them,” Robinson told Denver7 about the allegations currently clouding Cambridge Analytica’s reputation and work.

“We want to do everything we can within the rules to make sure that we’re doing the best we can,” he continued. “This is exactly what’s giving politics a bad name….The public expects campaigns to be run with high integrity. That’s what we’re trying to do.”