The Tillis, Cambridge Analytica deal stinks

by | Mar 29, 2018 | 2014 Elections, Editor's Blog, Politics | 8 comments

The Cambridge Analytica saga in North Carolina stinks. Thom Tillis’ campaign says that they paid $100,000 win bonus to the British company. The company apparently had non-citizens embedded at the North Carolina Republican Party directing campaign strategy. The win bonus is not really believable and the embed is probably illegal.

I’ve worked on a whole lot of campaigns and I’ve seen win bonuses, but I’ve never seen a $100,000 win bonus for $30,000 work. That’s how much Tillis and his campaign paid the firm before the November election. They paid the $100,000 in installments in 2015. That’s not really believable. There’s more to the story than just a win bonus.

Dallas Woodhouse, Executive Director of the North Carolina Republican Party, denies that any foreign nationals worked out of GOP headquarters in 2014. A spokesman for Tillis slammed the press saying that no foreign workers were on his campaign at all and called NBC reporting on the matter “embarrassingly sloppy and factually false” because the workers supposedly worked out of the GOP office in Raleigh, not his campaign office in Cornelius. You could forgive NBC for confusing the two since the difference between the Tillis campaign and the NC GOP in 2014 was mainly semantics. The law allows coordination of state parties and campaigns and both took full advantage of that relationship in the most contested and expensive US Senate race of the cycle.

You could also forgive news outlets for thinking British citizens were working on the campaign since, in 2015, Cambridge Analytica employees were bragging about being on the ground during the race. As one said about his experience at the NC GOP, “I was English enough to be an entertaining curiosity.” Somebody’s not telling the truth here.

There’s been a lot of debate about whether or not Cambridge Analytica is as good as they claim to be. Maybe they’re just a bunch of bluster like so many political consulting firms who take more credit for victories than they actually deserve. Still, they aren’t supposed to have foreign workers on domestic political campaigns and, if they’re really getting $100,000 win bonuses, then the campaigns are giving them plenty of credit for their work.

Regardless all of it smells. The data firm takes negative campaigning to a new level. They play on people’s prejudices and fears to motivate them to vote against a candidate or to sit out elections altogether. There’s nothing illegal about that. It’s just another blow to any sort of civil debate. If they’re putting foreign workers in domestic campaigns, though, that’s a different story and might violate campaign laws. As for that $100,000 win bonus, somebody needs to dig deeper into that.


  1. chris

    Will no one free us from this orange monkey with the dynamite? Mueller… Mueller?

  2. Dallas Woodhouse

    There is no evidence the NCGOP hired non-us citizens for any work during the time period in question.

    Of course it is not against the law nor unethical if we did. But we did not.

    Only American citizens, working for the NCGOP or the party officers decide whom to mail to and how to message.

    If we had, they would be reported on the public campaign finance reports, and you damn well know this.

    Check this claim by seeing who we cut checks to as reported on the records.

    We hired dozens if not hundreds of vendors for services including the parent companies of The News and Observer and WRAL.
    We do not control who they hire either.

    Vendors often oversell their roles in successful. Consultants do also, and negate their responsibility in losing efforts. You know this too.

    All our activities were legal and ethical. Even the vendor in question, only had a dispute over the terms of agreement with facebook AFTER our work with them was concluded.

    You are a smart guy and should know that Sen. Hagan was a horrific candidate. She ran away from the press at art her own event for gods sake.

    This came months after a horrific conference call with reporters in which Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank said:

    “Hagan hosted a conference call for reporters Tuesday morning to discuss the problems with the health-care law’s rollout, and the Q&A session was so painful that the senator should qualify for trauma coverage under the Affordable Care Act”

    Senator Clinton was also a flawed candidate.

    It does your side no good not to realize the true reasons you lost. Not Russians, not data, not cambridge.

    Simply bad candidates and bad messages.

  3. Norma Munn

    I continue to be surprised that anyone is surprised by any of this. Cambridge Analytica was part of the GOP strategy shortly after Donald Trump was nominated. Few reported on it, but the information was available. It stands to reason that it was also deep into other campaigns. As for Tillis and//or the GOP breaking campaign finance rules in NC, why should they worry? Does anyone really expect any serious penalty? Any disapproval other than a few blogs and perhaps a couple of newspaper articles?

    It is just another turn off for voters who no longer have any faith in anything in the political system. Those who enjoy, or approve, of this mess should thank the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United every day.

    • Ebrun

      The NC Attorney-General is a Democrat. If the Tillis campaign broke state election laws, why not files charges? Or if his campaign broke Federal election laws, Democrats were in charge of the U.S. Department of Justice in 2014. Same question. This is just more partisan political spin, i.e., fake news.

      And what about ex British agent Christopher Steel working for the consulting firm hired by the DNC to support Hillary’s election campaign? I haven’t heard any liberals asserting that was a violation of our election laws.

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