Data Proporia, a company run by former Cambridge Analytica officials, has been working for President Trump’s 2020 re-election effort, the Associated Press reports.
Headed by Matt Oczkowski, the former Head of Product at Cambridge Analytica, Data Proporia employs at least three other Cambridge Analytica-affiliated individuals. Much like Oczkowski’s previous company, Data Proporia specializes in voter and consumer targeting.
AP reporters have learned that Oczkowksi is already working for the president’s 2020 re-election campaign. Although the head of Data Proporia denied these claims, he has confirmed that his new firm has agreed to do 2018 campaign work for the Republican National Committee.
“I’m obviously open to any work that would become available,” Oczkowksi told AP, adding that he is “laser-focused on the 2018 midterms,” and will after that “start working on re-electing President Trump.”
As CNBC noted, ahead of the U.S. 2016 presidential election, Trump’s campaign team began investing heavily in Facebook ads, in collaboration with the London-based consultancy Cambridge Analytica. Eighty seven million Facebook profiles were harvested for Cambridge Analytica, leading to a major data scandal.
A lot has happened since. Mark Zuckerberg has testified before the Senate, vowing to protect user data in the future. In May, as AP noted, Cambridge Analytica filed for bankruptcy and ceased all operations. A British investigation of the company has continued, despite the shutdown.
Information obtained by the Associated Press suggests the new company, Data Proporia, will also profile voters based on data, using a process known as psychography. Psychography is different from using demographic segments to identify groups of voters, it is more akin to behavioral psychology; the technique classifies people based on their personality, attitudes, aspirations.
Oczkowski told the AP that Data Proporia will, in fact, not focus on psychography, but on campaign operations and data analysis instead.
The 2020 re-election campaign is not where ties between the Trump campaign and Data Proporia end. Brad Parscale, the former digital media director for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, now serves as the campaign manager for Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, and is a part owner of Data Proporia’s parent company.
Called Cloud Commerce, Data Proporia’s parent company, has largely rebuilt itself around Parscale’s former company, now re-branded Parscale Digita, AP noted, and Parscale sits on Cloud Commerce’s board of directors, providing the company with the majority of its $2.9 million in revenue.
Therefore, by working with a Cloud Commerce subsidiary, the Trump campaign manager will profit beyond his campaign retainer; Parscale receives a 5 percent cut of every dollar collected by the company, and earns money through various similar agreements with Cloud Commerce.
Campaign Legal Center’s Trevor Potter told the Associated Press that it was “unusual for an incumbent president’s campaign to direct large amounts of business to outside firms tied to his campaign manager.”
“Top-notch candidates have bargaining power and are less likely to put up with that. It sounds like a very rich opportunity for Mr. Parscale, but that’s really the candidate’s call,” Potter said.