Barack Obama was hiding a secret.
But now it’s out in the open.
He was caught committing a crime that could ruin him for good.
After the 2012 campaign, journalists praised his campaign as the most tech-savvy enterprise in American political history.
The Obama campaign mined Facebook for user data that allowed them to micro-target messaging in order to drive up his base turnout.
There was even a famous piece of writing “Inside the Cave” that lionized Obama’s tech team and gave them credit for winning the election.
But in the wake of Cambridge Analytica story, the Obama tech operation is receiving increased scrutiny.
And at least one legal expert believes the Obama team and Facebook committed a crime.
Hans A. von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
He authored an op-ed in Fox News describing how the Obama team and Facebook colluded on illegal in-kind campaign contributions.
von Spakovsky wrote:
But a more serious case of apparent misconduct involves Facebook data going to a different presidential campaign – this time in 2012. In this case, which is getting far less attention, Facebook reportedly voluntarily provided data on millions of its users to the re-election campaign of President Obama.
If true, such action by Facebook may constitute a major violation of federal campaign finance law as an illegal corporate campaign contribution. The matter should be investigated by the Federal Election Commission – an agency I am quite familiar with, because I served as one of its commissioners from 2006 to 2007. The commission enforces campaign finance laws for congressional and presidential elections.
A federal law bans corporations from making “direct or indirect” contributions to federal candidates. That ban extends beyond cash contributions to “any services, or anything of value.” In other words, corporations cannot provide federal candidates with free services of any kind. Under the Federal Election Commission’s regulations, “anything of value” includes any “in-kind contribution.”
He described how the illicit campaign contribution occurred:
“According to Carol Davidsen, the former media director for Obama for America, Facebook gave the 2012 Obama campaign direct access to the personal data of Facebook users in violation of its internal rules, making a special exception for the campaign. The Daily Mail, a British newspaper, reported that Davidsen said on Twitter March 18 that Facebook employees 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.”
The type of data that the Obama campaign was mining from Facebook is a more sophisticated version of the type of data that has long been provided by professional direct mail marketers – something pioneered by Richard Viguerie. Viguerie, for example, has detailed personal data on “12 million conservative donors and activists” to whom his company sends letters and emails on behalf of his clients. He provides information to campaigns looking for votes and money, and to nonprofit and advocacy organizations raising funds.
Political campaigns must pay for these services. Under a Federal Election Commission regulation, giving a mailing list or something similar to a campaign is considered an “in-kind contribution.”
So if Facebook gave the Obama campaign free access to this type of data when it normally does not do so for other entities – or usually charges for such access – then Facebook would appear to have violated the federal ban on in-kind contributions by a corporation. And the Obama campaign may have violated the law by accepting such a corporate contribution.”
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