The chief executive of controversial political data firm Cambridge Analytica claimed his company was in complete control of “all” digital operations used by the Donald Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election, an investigation from the U.K.’s ITN Channel 4 revealed.
In a secretly recorded video, Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix shared details about his company’s connections with the Trump campaign. Nix has since been suspended.
In the video posted Tuesday, Nix details Cambridge Analytica’s involvement in Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, including laying claim to the entirety of the campaign’s digital-marketing operations.
“We did all the research, all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting,” Nix said on the video. “We ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign, and our data informed all the strategy.”
Mark Turnbull, the managing director at Cambridge Analytica, disclosed to the undercover reporter that the political firm often operates through shell organizations. Those organizations allow Cambridge Analytica to dump opposition research and spread information without it being tracked back to them.
“Sometimes you can use proxy organizations who are already there. You feed them. They are civil society organizations … Charities or activist groups, and we use them, feed them the material and they do the work,” he said.
“We just put information into the bloodstream to the internet and then watch it grow, give it a little push every now and again over time to watch it take shape. And so this stuff infiltrates the online community and expands but with no branding so it’s unattributable, untrackable,” Turnbull explained.
Turnbull claimed that Cambridge Analytica was responsible for the “Defeat Crooked Hillary” attack ads that ran during the campaign. The ads were for the super PAC (political action committee) Make America Number 1 and were viewed more than 30 million times over the course of the campaign.
Make America Number 1 was primarily funded by hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, who is also one of the owners of Cambridge Analytica.
Cambridge Analytica has claimed publicly that it maintained a firewall between its activities and those of political organizations and fundraising groups.
Following the hidden-camera expose, Cambridge Analytica announced Tuesday that Nix has been suspended and would undergo “a full, independent investigation.”
“In the view of the Board, Mr. Nix’s recent comments secretly recorded by Channel 4 and other allegations do not represent the values or operations of the firm and his suspension reflects the seriousness with which we view this violation,” the firm said.