March 20, 2018/Press

WATCH NCDP Raises Questions Around NC GOP Connections to Shady Firm That Illegally Stole Data from 50 Million Americans

Raleigh – This morning, North Carolina Democratic Party Chair Wayne Goodwin held a press conference outlining what we know – and, more importantly, what we don’t know – about the connections between the North Carolina Republican Party, Sen. Thom Tillis’ campaign, Congressman Patrick McHenry’s campaign and the shady, Russian-linked data firm, Cambridge Analytica, which stole personal data from 50 million Facebook users.As the national attention continues to reveal new details surrounding the shady firm, scant details exist about North Carolina Republicans ties to the firm. In 2014 and 2015, North Carolina Republicans paid Cambridge Analytica more than $350,000. But Republicans have yet to answer basic questions about their involvement, such as:

  • How did Cambridge Analytica come to work for Thom Tillis and the NC GOP?
  • What did Cambridge Analytica do for Tillis and the NC GOP? Did Cambridge Analytica do any work on state legislative races? Will they provide the press with contracts with Cambridge Analytica?
  • An American lawyer warned Cambridge Analytica that their setup could run afoul of laws limiting involvement of foreign nationals in U.S. elections. Will Tillis, and McHenry or NC GOP offer proof that work on their behalf was not conducted by foreign nationals in violation of U.S. election laws?
  • Did the Tillis campaign or NC GOP know that Cambridge Analytica was using stolen personal information taken from Americans without their consent? Why does the NC GOP now say that they “routinely” do this kind of thing?
  • The Tillis campaign paid this firm $100,000 in four separate payments in 2015. Why did the Tillis campaign continue to pay Cambridge Analytica a year after his victory?

Chair Goodwin called on the NC GOP and Sen. Tillis to answer questions about their unusually close ties to Cambridge Analytica, especially if the NC GOP believes this firm has done nothing wrong. Below is a transcript of the press conference.

“Before there ever was a Trump campaign, it was North Carolina Republicans who helped line the pockets of this shady firm – and allowed it to steal and weaponize personal information to manipulate voters,” NCDP Chairman Wayne Goodwin said. “We must know the extent that the NC GOP helped this firm steal, weaponize, and exploit people’s private information. Given the connection between the North Carolina Republican Party and Cambridge Analytica, we need some straight answers to these questions.”

Transcript, NCDP Chairman Wayne Goodwin

Good morning. This weekend, two bombshell exposes detailed the work of Cambridge Analytica, a data firm with Russian ties employed by Thom Tillis, Patrick McHenry and the North Carolina Republican Party that was caught stealing Americans’ personal data to improperly influence the 2014 and 2016 elections.

It has caught all of our attention to know that Senator Tillis and the North Carolina Republican Party paid this same firm $345,000 over two election cycles. And now, Senator Tillis is running from reporters, refusing to answer questions. The Executive Director of the North Carolina Republican Party has gone on the radio this very morning to say that this is “the kind of thing [they] routinely do” and that he doesn’t think Cambridge Analytica has done anything wrong.

Well, here’s what we know:

In 2014, just one month before the North Carolina Republican Party made its first payment to them, Cambridge Analytica hired a Russian-American professor who had received Russian government money to study social media and elections.

Around the same time, an American lawyer warned Cambridge Analytica that they could run afoul of laws limiting involvement of foreign nationals in United States elections. Ultimately, “few Americans were involved in the work,” according to the New York Times.

In 2014 and 2015, Thom Tillis was also paying Cambridge Analytica.  The firm was so involved with Tillis’ race that they posted a case study for their work on the campaign on their own website that bragged that it built “psychographic profiles for all voters in North Carolina.”

The North Carolina Republican Party made another payment to Cambridge Analytica in 2015, but their executive director is now claiming that they did no work for the party in 2015. Why, then, did the North Carolina Republican Party pay the firm $65,000 in June 2015? I don’t know how they keep their books, but I sure don’t pay people for work they haven’t done.

Since then, Cambridge Analytica’s role in helping Russian meddling has come under a national spotlight. Special counsel Robert Mueller has requested all emails from Cambridge Analytica staffers who worked on Trump’s 2016 election.

But before there ever was a Trump campaign, it was North Carolina Republicans who helped line the pockets of this shady firm – and allowed it to steal and weaponize personal information to manipulate voters.

I know Senator Tillis doesn’t want to answer questions on this right now, but he and his Republican colleagues owe the people and the media some answers. For example:

  • How did Cambridge Analytica come to work for Thom Tillis and the NC GOP?
  • What did Cambridge Analytica do for Tillis and the NC GOP? Did Cambridge Analytica do any work on state legislative races? Will they provide the press with contracts with Cambridge Analytica?
  • An American lawyer warned Cambridge Analytica that their setup could run afoul of laws limiting involvement of foreign nationals in U.S. elections. Will Tillis, and McHenry or NC GOP offer proof that work on their behalf was not conducted by foreign nationals in violation of U.S. election laws?
  • Did the Tillis campaign or NC GOP know that Cambridge Analytica was using stolen personal information taken from Americans without their consent? Why does the NC GOP now say that they “routinely” do this kind of thing?
  • The Tillis campaign paid this firm $100,000 in four separate payments in 2015. Why did the Tillis campaign continue to pay Cambridge Analytica a year after his victory?

This issue extends to the very investigation into Russia’s interference into the 2016 election. Senator Richard Burr is the chief Republican investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. Was the 2015 payment related to Senator Burr’s campaign, which was gearing up for his own reelection the next year?And have Tillis, McHenry or the NC GOP received any subpoenas from special counsel Robert Mueller?

As we head into a pivotal midterm election season here in 2018, it’s vital the people of North Carolina get answers to these very questions.

It is incumbent on Senator Tillis, Rep. McHenry and the NC Republican Party to answer questions about their unusually close ties to Cambridge Analytica, especially if the NC GOP believes this firm has done nothing wrong.

We must know the extent that the NC GOP helped this firm steal, weaponize, and exploit people’s private information. Given the connection between the North Carolina Republican Party and Cambridge Analytica, we need some straight answers to these questions.

Our very Republic depends on it.

###