Late-Night Speculation Russiagate Open Thread: Was North Carolina in 2014 A Trial Run for Cambridge Analytica?

From North Carolina’s own WRAL, “Tillis may have benefited from Facebook data breach”:

The data firm accused of stealing the private information of more than 50 million Facebook users may have used that information to help U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis win his seat in 2014.

North Carolina voters were among the first in the U.S. to be targeted by Cambridge Analytica, which boasted that its cache of “psychographic data” could be used to build personality profiles of voters and target political ads at them to influence their behavior…

n 2014, Tillis’ campaign paid Cambridge Analytica $30,000, and the North Carolina Republican Party paid $150,000, making the GOP the company’s fourth-largest client that year. The party also paid the firm $65,000 in 2015.

Cambridge Analytica now features Tillis’ successful campaign to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan as a case study on its website…

Tillis defeated Hagan by fewer than 50,000 votes following a campaign marked by one negative ad after another on both sides.

Cambridge Analytica’s third-largest client in 2014, the John Bolton SuperPAC, was also highly active in the Tillis/Hagan race, spending nearly $1.5 million to benefit Tillis and damage Hagan. The super-PAC spent $341,000 with the company for messaging consulting.

Tillis didn’t respond Monday to repeated requests for comment on the allegations against Cambridge Analytica’s methods. Republican 10th District Congressman Patrick McHenry, whose campaign also spent $15,000 on Cambridge Analytica’s services in 2014, also didn’t respond to requests for comment…

Still, North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin said the new revelations raise a lot of questions about what the GOP, Tillis or McHenry knew about Cambridge Analytica, what they asked the firm to do and when they found out about its connections to Russia…

Meanwhile, per the Daily Beast

Billionaire heiress Rebekah Mercer is standing by embattled data firm Cambridge Analytica––at least for now. A person close to Mercer, who sits on the firm’s board, told The Daily Beast she has no immediate plans to leave her post there, despite a bombshell report alleging the company used Ukrainian sex workers to try to get compromising material about its clients’ political opponents.

“She is working to be part of the solution,” said the source, of one of American conservatism’s most powerful mega-donors.

“She has always worked to make sure she observes and abides by all established norms and legal mandates,” the source added.

The source said Robert Mercer, who co-founded America’s most lucrative hedge fund, is just a passive investor in Cambridge Analytica and has never been on its board. Rebekah Mercer is his daughter, and conducts broad business oversight as a board member…

The Mercers were among Trump’s most generous supporters, spending millions to support his campaign.

Wouldn’t it just be the rancid cherry on this shit sundae, if it turned out that Rebekah threw millions of Daddy’s money down a Russian rathole just for the chance to feel like she was a Serious Important Political Macher, someone “in the room where it happened”? And not just another dumb heiress like Ivanka?

39 replies
  1. 1
    NotMax says:

    Quibble*, but gantseh k’nacker seems a slightly more appropriate fit than macher. The latter comes with a penumbra acknowledging some level of competence at scheming.

    *Yiddish, a language designed for quibbling.

  2. 2
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @NotMax: there’s gotta be a Yiddish word for ‘quibbling’

  3. 3
    oatler. says:

    Somebody gave somebody some money and there may have been BOOBIES

  4. 4
    different-church-lady says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Isn’t ‘quibbling’ Yiddish already?

  5. 5
    NotMax says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist

    Guesstimate would be more words than there are for snow in Inuit or lava in Hawaiian.


  6. 6
    Anne Laurie says:

    @NotMax: Rebekah must be competent! She has a certifiably high IQ, and a very expensive Stanford MBA — as she would be the first to tell you.

    Trump hadda run for president, because he couldn’t admit some Black dude might be better at anything than he was. It’s sounding, so far, like “the Mercers” got into politics because Rebekah was never the “pretty” daughter, just the “smart” one. Destroying the country that made them so prosperous because the money alone couldn’t slack their thirty for attention… if this were a handful of “ancient primitives” bankrupting themselves with ever-escalating wars, we’d shake our heads that those innocents didn’t have our sophisticated understanding of cultural consequences…

  7. 7
    NotMax says:


    Probably obliquely derives from the Latin quibus.

  8. 8
    mike in dc says:

    The puzzle pieces seem to just fall into place lately.

  9. 9
    hervevillechaizelounge says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    I know this sounds unhinged but I believe we’ll eventually find out Trump’s animus towards Obama was engineered by Putin as a basis for a presidential run.

    Trump has always hated poor black folks but until Obama he had no quarrel with wealthy people of color; he golfed with rappers and toadied up to everyone in power, regardless of melanin level.

    I can’t imagine someone like Jeff Sessions or Shelly Adelson golfing with Jay-Z or inviting the Clintons to his wedding—Trump took a big swerve to the right and I suspect kompromat and/or laundered rubles were involved.

    Thanks for indulging my paranoia; I’m seeing Ruskie ratfuckery everywhere I look these days:(

  10. 10
    mai naem mobile says:

    Hope the Mercers end up in prison. Maybe Ivanka and Rebekah can share a cell.

  11. 11
    Redshift says:

    That Frank Luntz blurb for Cambridge Analytica, proclaiming who’s an “expert,” is a perfect storm of grift masquerading as expertise.

  12. 12
    Mary G says:

    There was quite the kerfluffle at CambAnal’s London offices today. Facebook people and the auditors they hired over the weekend were there when the British government arrived with a warrant. Hope they got there in time. Based on how arrogant and incompetent these people seem, I think so.

  13. 13
    sempronia says:

    I saw a picture of Rebekah Mercer for the first time on a post here a couple days ago. She looks shockingly like Cruella DeVille.

  14. 14
    Millard Filmore says:

    a bombshell report alleging the company used Ukrainian sex workers to try to get compromising material about its clients’ political opponents.

    There is no rule against using compromising material against your political allies, is there? That would fit in with so many Republicans lining up with Trump and the Mercers.

  15. 15
    mike in dc says:

    The defeatism regarding impeachment is driving me nuts. Of course there’s no chance of it this year. But with major setbacks, a whole year of damaging new revelations, and potentially a full bill of potential indictments referred, 2019 is NOT off the table for a viable impeachment. All of this stuff will have a cumulative effect.

  16. 16
    Comrade Colette Collaboratrice says:

    GOP, eager to avoid picking fight with Trump, backs off calls to move on legislation to protect Mueller. Thom Tillis, cosponsor of bill, said “I don’t think there’s any imminent need to do it today or this week. Tillis aide tried to prevent us from asking

    Jesus pancake-flippin’ Christ. THE ROOF IS ON FIRE, and these assholes don’t want to scratch the paint on the door.

  17. 17
  18. 18
    mainmata says:

    @different-church-lady: Derivative of Latin: (from the OED), 1610s, “a pun, a play on words,” probably a diminutive of obsolete quib “evasion of point at issue,” based on an overuse of Latin quibus? (from PIE (proto_Indo-European) root *kwo-, stem of relative and interrogative pronouns) in legal jargon, which supposedly gave it the association with trivial argument. Meaning “equivocation, evasion of the point” is attested from 1660s.

  19. 19
    Aleta says:

    I think I’m coming down with complications from stress.

  20. 20
    mainmata says:

    @hervevillechaizelounge: It’s more complicated than that. Trump has a severe narcissistic personality disorder so the world entirely revolves around him; he is the best, etc. So when Obama ridiculed him at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner (justifiably) for his birther garbage that so unhinged Trump to seek revenge that he decided to run in 2016 (and also he had always toyed at running for President (cf. ego above). Where the Russians come in is the means to the end. For Russia, it has been much more cost-effective to cleverly exacerbate social hatreds on the rightwing (America, Britain and Europe) because those people will believe anything and are, like Trump, consumed by hatred and resentment and, in doing so cause major political destruction. So, yes, Putin easily flipped Trump because he is totally compromised (money laundering and more) and because Putin knew he could be so easily manipulated, like the stupid child that he is.

  21. 21
    Barry says:

    @Comrade Colette Collaboratrice: “Jesus pancake-flippin’ Christ. THE ROOF IS ON FIRE, and these assholes don’t want to scratch the paint on the door.”

    Every one of these people is a traitor. Note that in the Senate any three GOP Senators could have blocked *everything*; now it’d only take two.

  22. 22
    Boatboy_srq says:

    @sempronia: Cruella DeVille is Rebekah Mercer’s nicer sister. DeVille is her married name.

  23. 23
    cs says:

    If we’re talking 2014 and trial runs, I think Gamergate is a good candidate for further inspection. In retrospect, GG was a prototype for the tactics used during Trump’s run and by the alt-right. I think it’s origins were organic. Doesn’t take a conspiracy to make internet misogynists yell loudly. But it was ramped up very quickly by some very focused people. Breitbart latched on to it shortly after it started. Basically started Milo on his brief career as a right wing star.

    I remember anti-GG people quickly determining that, at its heart, it was a small organized group pumping out the waves and waves of bullshit. At the time, we all thought it was just a small number of neckbearded true believers who were fanning the flames. But, after all we’ve learned recently, I could see it being a trial run on internet hysteria and mob manipulation.

  24. 24
    japa21 says:

    Off to work the polls in a Chicago suburb. Damn, it’s dark outside.

  25. 25
    rikyrah says:

    @mike in dc:
    Impeachment should be a given when the Democrats take the House.

  26. 26
    rikyrah says:

    It is cold. Thanks for working the polls 🙌

  27. 27
  28. 28
    Bruce K says:

    Saw a bit crosslinked by a friend from the Great Orange Satan aka Daily Kos, that Howard Dean’s already publicly talking about Article 3, Section 3 (except he used the T-word).

  29. 29
    CaseyL says:

    I should have been in bed hours ago (it’s almost 3 AM here on the West Coast) but I’ve been watching the CA story unfold on Twitter. BBC Channel 4 is going to air another expose today on how CA claims it won the 2016 election for Trump, and how it did so.

    Wonder how much, if at all, the US MSM will cover that. Not with original investigative reporting – they’re no longer capable of that at the best of times, and since they were enthusiastically broadcasting the propaganda they’re doubly compromised – but whether they’ll mention the BBC coverage.

    I’d also like to know how CA’s propaganda efforts intersected with Russia’s corrupting the vote itself.

  30. 30
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @mike in dc:

    The defeatism regarding impeachment is driving me nuts.

    Speaking as one who has an “IMPEACH tRUMP” bumber sticker I gotta say what you call defeatism some people call looking at reality re today’s GOP.

    But with major setbacks, a whole year of damaging new revelations, and potentially a full bill of potential indictments referred, 2019 is NOT off the table for a viable impeachment.

    And maybe the horse will talk. Name 16 GOP senators (more likely 20 or more will be needed) who might vote for the impeachment of president pud. Sure things might change but right now those votes aren’t there and this upcoming election is very unlikely to change the math. And until something happens to change the math talk of impeachment is just that, talk.

  31. 31
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @hervevillechaizelounge: Naw. Trump’s father was reportedly a KKK member. Trump has always been racist and the fact that President Obama was in the White House pushed him further over the edge. He’d be racist even if Putin didn’t exist.

  32. 32
    AnonPhenom says:

    @mike in dc: @rikyrah:
    Timing is everything.
    With redistricting happening after the 2020 election, wouldn’t it be better….

    though, ‘striking whille the iron’s hot’ and all that.

  33. 33
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @mike in dc: Agreed. When Democrats control Congress, impeachment should be the only agenda item. Trump is beyond crooked. His only agenda is to do Putin’s bidding.

  34. 34
    SFAW says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    there’s gotta be a Yiddish word for ‘quibbling’

    Isn’t it “kvibbling“?

  35. 35
    Steeplejack (phone) says:


    The MSNBC shows last night—Matthews, Hayes, Maddow, O’Donnell—ran long clips and did extended coverage. Even Colbert played a clip and covered it—and probably reached more viewers.

  36. 36
    AnonPhenom says:

    …or kibbitz?

  37. 37
    afanasia says:

    @AnonPhenom: Parscale may not be a white supremacist but he’s certainly doing his best to look like one. Those beards…I told a young neighbor of mine the other day that he had food stuck in his. Apparently he’d been walking around that way since lunch time. He thanked my very nicely.

  38. 38
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: (Sigh) Are we still misunderstanding the process? Impeachment (by majority vote of the HoR) -> indictment, leading to trial in the Senate; 2/3 of the Senators present must then vote to convict & remove from office.

    With a HoR controlled by Democrats, impeachment is most surely not “off the table” – but removal (by a Senate controlled by compromised-up-the-wazoo Rethuglicans) is a long shot at best.

    If the Democrats take the House, I for one hope they move with all deliberate speed to conduct hearings & lay out clear & overwhelming evidence for impeaching Trumpolini** – then do it. We may (in the interest of restoring sane governance) have to explore letting some of the compromised GOP Senators skate on criminal charges in exchange for removal votes (& their subsequent resignations), but that’s well down the road.

    ** VPOTUS too for that matter: IMPEACH PENCE FIRST is my dream bumpersnicker.

  39. 39
    Aleta says:

    @Uncle Cosmo: This is the perfect bumpersticker. I imagine it as a rider on every piece R legislation after 2018 elections.

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