Tom Cotton, John Bolton, and Cambridge Analytica | Arkansas Blog

Tom Cotton, John Bolton, and Cambridge Analytica

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COTTON AND BOLTON: True Detective Season 4 will tell the story of two bellicose warmongers who paid big bucks for data improperly harvested from unsuspecting citizens. - GAGE SKIDMORE VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons
  • COTTON AND BOLTON: True Detective Season 4 will tell the story of two bellicose warmongers who paid big bucks for data improperly harvested from unsuspecting citizens.

Starting today, Facebook is sending messages to the 87 million users who may have had personal data about them improperly shared, without their knowledge, with the controversial political firm Cambridge Analytica.

Which brings us to Tom Cotton. Cotton's comments yesterday on John Bolton, Trump's new appointee as national security advisor, reminded me that Bolton and Cotton have a connection, right smack in the middle of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

CNN, among others, reported on Bolton's use of the firm late last month:
One of the first uses of a trove of Facebook data on tens of millions of Americans that has thrown Facebook and Cambridge Analytica into crisis this week was in 2014 by a super PAC run by John Bolton, President Donald Trump's new national security adviser, two former Cambridge Analytica employees told CNN.

The Bolton super PAC and Cambridge Analytica signed a $454,700 contract in the summer of 2014. The contract, obtained by CNN, outlined how the data firm would provide the super PAC "behavioral microtargeting with psychographic messaging."
The data, acquired in violation of Facebook policy, was used to help produce ads for Bolton's super PAC. Who was on the receiving end of this "behavioral mircotargeting with psychographic messaging"? Among others, turns out it was Facebook users in Arkansas. And who was benefiting from Bolton's Facebook footwork? That would be Tom Cotton, in his 2014 campaign for Senate.

From the CNN report:
Documents provided to CNN show how the SCL Group, Cambridge Analytica's parent company, outlined how to target voters in Arkansas, where Cotton was running for US Senate in 2014.

Entitled "Arkansas Priority Persuasion Clusters," it split Arkansas voters into five groups and outlined what messaging would resonate with them.

One ad by Bolton's super PAC for Cotton focused on patriotism, leadership and on the candidate's military service.

Wylie said that ad was primarily targeted at "cluster two" of Arkansas voters, which consisted of males in their 40s to 60s who cared most about national security and the economy. Among the "image guidelines" outlined by SCL Group to appeal to this group was a picture of Cotton in military uniform — similar pictures appeared in the ad.
Bolton's PAC poured more than $800,000 into Cotton's race. The Cotton campaign itself also hired Cambridge Analytica (Robert Mercer, the conservative billionaire and part owner of Cambridge Analytica, was a major donor to both Bolton's PAC and Cotton's campaign). Cotton also benefited from two other PACs — B-PAC ($77,916 spent on behalf of Cotton in the 2014 race) and the Ted Cruz-affiliated Jobs Growth and Freedom Fund ($5,333) — that  contracted with Cambridge Analytica.

Bolton's super PAC, one of the bigger outside spenders backing Cotton in 2014, has now paid Cambridge Analytica more than $1 million. Surreptitiously harvesting personal data of unsuspecting citizens is a pricey business.

Cotton said yesterday that Bolton "understands how to make the levers of power in Washington move" and "knows how to make things happen." Certainly Bolton helped make things happen for Tom Cotton.



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