The Denver Post
Campaign working with ex-Cambridge staffers
Data Propria targets voters and consumers
WASHINGTON» A company run by former officials at Cambridge Analytica, the political consulting firm brought down by a scandal over how it obtained Facebook users’ private data, has quietly been working for President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election effort, The Associated Press has learned.
The AP confirmed that at least four former Cambridge Analytica employees are affiliated with Data Propria, a new company specializing in voter and consumer targeting work similar to Cambridge Analytica’s efforts before its collapse. The company’s former head of product, Matt Oczkowski, leads the new firm, which also includes Cambridge Analytica’s former chief data scientist.
Oczkowski denied a link to the Trump campaign but acknowledged that his new firm has agreed to do 2018 campaign work for the Republican National Committee.
The AP learned of Data Propria’s role in Trump’s re-election effort as a result of conversations held with political contacts and prospective clients in recent weeks by Oczkowski and Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale. In one such conversation, which took place in a public place and was overheard by two AP reporters, Oczkowski said he and Parscale were “doing the president’s work for 2020.”
In addition, a person familiar with Data Propria’s Washington efforts, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect business relationships, confirmed to the AP that Trump-related 2020 work had begun at the firm along the lines of Cambridge Analytica’s 2016 work.
Oczkowski and Parscale told the AP that no Trump re-election work by Data Propria had been planned, but they confirmed that Parscale had helped Data Propria line up a successful bid on 2018 midterm polling-related work for the RNC, awarded this week.
Oczkowski previously told the AP the firm had no intention of seeking political clients but now says his young company had changed course.
“I’m obviously open to any work that would become available,” Oczkowski said, noting that he and Parscale had worked together closely during Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Parscale told the AP that he has not even begun awarding contracts for the 2020 campaign, which he was appointed to manage in March.
“I am laser-focused on the 2018 midterms and holding the House and increasing our seats in the Senate,” he said. “Once we do those things, I’ll start working on re-electing President Trump.”
London-based Cambridge Analytica was accused of playing a key role in the 2014 breach of 87 million Facebook users’ personal data.
The company said it did not use the information for Trump’s 2016 campaign, but some former employees have disputed that. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said it was “entirely possible” the social media data ended up being used in Russian propaganda efforts.
In May, Cambridge Analytica filed for bankruptcy and said it was “ceasing all operations.”