NRA Cambridge Analytica
A sign at the 2016 NRA Convention. Photo: Getty Images

The National Rifle Association used Cambridge Analytica for a 'Trigger the Vote' campaign during the 2016 election, a reporter's sidenote at the time which has resurfaced in a new context: Whistleblowing accounts of Cambridge Analytica's alleged misdeeds during the 2016 presidential race.

 

In September 2016, deep within a story about the NRA's efforts to defeat Hillary Clinton, the "Guardian" reported that the NRA had worked with Cambridge Analytica to implement the NRA's "Trigger the Vote" campaign, which was designed to register new voters and get them to the polls. The story noted that Robert Mercer, the Republican megadonor and a major investor in Cambridge Analytica, was a lifetime NRA member.

 

This week, it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica captured the personal data of more than 50 million Facebook users and used it to circulate pro-Trump, anti-Clinton propaganda and disinformation during the 2016 campaign. The CEO of the company, Christopher Nix, was caught on hidden camera saying Cambridge Analytica "ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign and our data informed all the strategy” for Trump and boasted of dirty tricks the company used in elections, including entrapment and bribery.

 

It's unclear if Facebook-harvested data was used for the NRA's "Trigger the Vote" campaign. But the main service Cambridge Analytica sells its clients is the ability to microtarget people online using "psychographics" — their hopes, fears, likes and dislikes. 

 

The September 2016 "Guardian" story indicated that the NRA planned to spend $15 million before November in battleground states to defeat Clinton. Ultimately, the NRA spent $30 million to support Trump's election — more than three times the amount it spent to support Mitt Romney in 2012.

 

In January, McClatchy reported that the FBI is investigating whether Russia funneled money to the Trump campaign via the NRA. The Federal Election Committee is also investigating that matter, Politico reported on Saturday.

Members of Congress have called on Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg to testify on Capitol Hill about Facebook's security policies.