Wednesday, March 28, 2018 by JD Heyes
Politicos have been following recent events surrounding Cambridge Analytica, a British firm that assisted then-presidential candidate Donald J. Trump with Facebook user information prior to his security of the Republican nomination.
For that alleged sin, Democrats and the Alt-Left are attempting to portray it as some horrible “theft” of data, serial violations of the Fourth Amendment, and maybe even something that special counsel Robert Mueller may want to look into.
But Hans A. von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, believes that a much more serious misconduct may have taken place between Facebook and the reelection campaign of President Obama in 2012.
“Controversy continues to swirl around how the consulting firm Cambridge Analytica obtained personal data from over 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge and used it to target ads to individuals in an effort to help Donald Trump be elected president in 2016,” he writes in a piece for Fox News.
But the Obama-Facebook connection promises to be much more serious — which, of course, helps explain why the American Pravda media has memory-holed it. In the case of the Obama campaign, Facebook “reportedly voluntarily provided data on millions of its users” to the reelection effort which, “if true…may constitution a major violation of federal campaign finance law as an illegal corporate campaign contribution,” von Spakovsky — a former member of the Federal Election Commission (2006-2007) wrote.
He notes that federal law makes it illegal for corporations to make “direct or indirect” contributions to any candidate for federal office. The ban goes beyond simple cash contributions to “any services, or anything of value.”
That means that corporations aren’t allowed to give federal candidates free services of any kind. The former FEC commissioner says the regulations are clear in that they state “anything of value” includes “in-kind contribution.”
…[I]f a corporation decided to offer a presidential candidate free office space, that would violate federal law. Corporations can certainly offer their services, including office space, to federal campaigns. But the campaigns are required to pay the fair market value for such services or rental properties.
The Obama reelection campaign’s former media director, Carol Davidsen, admitted recently on Twitter that Facebook gave campaign officials direct access to the personal data of Facebook users, and in violation of its own rules prohibiting such access. On March 18 she tweeted that Facebook workers even came to the campaign office and “were very candid that they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side.” (Related: When Obama and Facebook teamed up in 2012 that was “technological genius,” but when Trump does the same thing, it’s a “scandal.”)
Here’s the tweet:
They came to office in the days following election recruiting & were very candid that they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side.
— Carol Davidsen (@cld276) March 19, 2018
Now mind you, Obama sycophants who are claiming that what Cambridge Analytica did was different are not wrong; the firm asked Facebook users in 2014 “to take a personality survey and download an app which scraped some private information from their profiles and those of their friends, activity that Facebook permitted at the time but has since banned,” The New York Times reported.
That part is important but it’s what’s being left out of most other Prava media reporting. It was proper; more importantly, it was legal.
Nothing that Facebook did in 2012 to voluntarily provide nearly three times as much data on Facebook users to the Obama reelection campaign was legal. All of it not only violated company privacy rules but federal election statues, according to a guy who ought to know.
Von Spakovsky notes that what Facebook did was provide the Obama campaign with the electronic equivalent of a traditional mailing list that campaigns are required to pay for, for free — an “in-kind donation” that is prohibited under the law.
The Trump campaign, by comparison, paid Cambridge Analytica for its legally obtained data.
The Obama campaign? Not so much. “It should be investigated by the Federal Election Commission and potentially the U.S. Department of Justice,” von Spakovsky writes.
J.D. Heyes is also editor-in-chief of The National Sentinel.