FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Republican Candidates are Paying a Fossil Fuels Conglomerate for Voter Data Mining

Koch Industries is a fossil fuels conglomerate with estimated revenues of more than $100 billion annually and 130,000 employees spread around the globe. It’s one of the largest, private corporations in the world with a history of funding nonprofit front groups and political candidates who are climate change skeptics. Typically, political payments go in one direction from this behemoth: from the Koch Industries Super Pac (KochPac) to Republican political candidates or political committees. Now, quietly, political payments are going in both directions, effectively creating an Orwellian campaign finance model.

Quietly, and without any corporate press release on such an unusual acquisition, Koch Industries has purchased i360, a vast voter database and data harvesting operation. According to i360’s website, it has “1800 unique data points” on 290 million American consumers as well as detailed information on 199 million voters from all 50 states. It brags that its data “shows you everything you need to know including the demographic and psychographic breakdown of your target market.”

The propriety of a multinational industrial conglomerate with an anti-regulatory agenda having a stranglehold on a highly sophisticated voter dating mining platform with unlimited funds to hire Ph.Ds., statisticians and computer scientists trained in artificial intelligence and machine learning, has yet to enter the national discourse.

In the April 1, 2017 issue of the company’s Discovery Newsletter, Charles Koch, Chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, owned up to owning i360, writing that “Thanks to the acquisitions of Molex, EFT, Infor and i360, we now have better information and systems than we’ve ever had in the history of the company.” Charles Koch declined to answer our emailed request to clarify when Koch Industries purchased i360, but Koch Industries is currently running help-wanted ads for database engineers and data scientists to assist i360 in the 2018 election. According to LinkedIn’s roster of existing i360 employees, Koch Industries already has plenty of highly skilled coders and tech professionals in various geographic locations around the country.

There may be synergies between i360, EFT Analytics and Infor. The website for EFT Analytics states that it “combines powerful advanced analytics software with your experienced process engineers” while allowing you to be “predictive and actionable in real time.” According to Infor’s website, one of its products is Birst, which was built with “patented technologies,” and “puts the power of analytics in the hands of every information worker and dramatically accelerates the process of delivering insights across the enterprise.” A division of Koch Industries invested over $2 billion in Infor in February of 2017. The EFT Analytics acquisition came in 2016. Terms were not disclosed.

From February 13, 2017 through May 22, 2018, the Massachusetts Republican Party paid i360 more than $25,000 for voter data management services. The Republican Party of Wisconsin, the Nevada Republican Central Committee, the Montana Republican State Central Committee and dozens of Republican candidates have paid i360 tens of thousands of dollars for assistance in the 2018 midterm elections. FEC records designate the services paid for as everything from digital and TV placement of ads, to software, to research and phone calls, to voter data modeling, to building campaign web sites.

Senator Chuck Grassley’s principal campaign committee wrote out a check to i360 for $6,269 on January 12, 2017 for “campaign voter data.” Grassley was re-elected to a new 6-year term in 2016 and Chairs the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. That committee conducts confirmation hearings for all Federal judges, including those for the U.S. Supreme Court. It also holds confirmation hearings for the U.S. Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General and all U.S. Attorneys throughout the United States.

The largest single disbursement from a political committee to i360 came from Freedom Partners Action Fund, a Super Pac. On June 26, 2018, the Super Pac wrote out a check for $1,520,592 to i360, designating the funds for “media placement-broadcast/cable, digital & survey research.” According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the largest donor during the current election cycle to the Freedom Partners Action Fund is Charles Koch’s Trust, which has donated $3 million. Since 2014, Charles Koch and his trust have given $14 million to the Freedom Partners Super Pac. This raises the question as to whether Charles Koch, a multi-billionaire, is subsidizing the work of i360. Charles Koch, and his brother David, are majority owners of Koch Industries. Forbes puts their net worth at $53.5 billion each as of August 12, 2018.

One person who is suspicious of Charles Koch’s agenda is Ronna McDaniel, Republican National Committee Chair. Earlier this month Politico published a memo from McDaniel that urged candidates not to use i360 and use the official RNC voter database instead. McDaniel wrote that “some groups who claim to support conservatives forgo their commitment when they decide their business interests are more important than those of the country or Party. This is unacceptable.”

That warning might have more bite if the RNC itself had not assisted in i360’s rise to power. The RNC signed data sharing arrangements with i360 for both the 2014 and 2016 elections. That was, however, when i360 was reported to be part of a tax-exempt group set up by the Koch donor network — the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, now shortened to just Freedom Partners, which is also associated with the Freedom Partners Action Fund, the Super Pac.

The Freedom Partners/Koch network played a major role in the 2016 election and was quick to demand that its agenda be implemented in the Trump administration. In January 2017, it released a formal memorandum of those demands, many of which have now been implemented by the Trump administration, including the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord.

One i360 employee profile listed at LinkedIn suggests that Koch Industries plans to innovate further in the field of data and information management. A Senior Data Analyst employed at i360, Carter Fawson, says he is simultaneously working at a company he founded, Eliot LLC. The demo for Eliot LLC says it uses artificial intelligence to deliver a truthfulness and accuracy score to news articles. The article that the Eliot demo has chosen to critique is a Washington Post article that Eliot did not feel was fair to Charles Koch.

More articles by:

Pam Martens has been a contributing writer at CounterPunch since 2006. Martens writes regularly on finance at www.WallStreetOnParade.com.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
August 23, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Notes on Inauthenticity in a Creeping Fascist Nuthouse
Andrew Levine
Recession Now, Please
Rob Urie
Mr. Trump Goes to Kensington
Jeffrey St. Clair
Deep Time and the Green River, Floating
Robert Hunziker
Earth 4C Hotter
Kenneth Good
Congo’s Patrice Lumumba: The Winds of Reaction in Africa
Pete Dolack
The Realism and Unrealism of the Green New Deals
David Rosen
The White-Nationalist Great Fear
Kenn Orphan
The War on Indigenous People is a War on the Biosphere Itself
L. Michael Hager
What Netanyahu’s Travel Ban Has Revealed
Ramzy Baroud
Jewish Settlers Rule the Roost in Israel, But at What Price?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Is Environmental Protection Possible?
Josue De Luna Navarro
What It’s Like to Grow Up Hunted
Ralph Nader
They Don’t Make Republicans Like the Great Paul Findley Anymore!
Gary Olson
Whither the Resistance to our Capitalist Overlords?
Dean Baker
On Those Downward Jobs Revisions
Rev. William Alberts
Beware of the Gun-Lover-in-Chief
Helder F. do Vale
Brazil: From Global Leader to U.S. Lapdog
Laura Finley
Educators Actually Do “Work” in the Summer
Jim Goodman
Farmers Need a Bill of Rights
Tom Clifford
What China’s Leadership is Really Worried About: Rising Debt
Daphne Wysham
Saving the Planet Means Fighting Bipartisan Corruption
Tierra Curry
Amazon Fires Put the Planet at Risk
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Decentralize Power and Revive Regional Political Institutions
John W. Whitehead
American Apocalypse
George Wuerthner
How Agriculture and Ranching Subvert the Re-Wilding of America
Daniel Murphy
Capital in the 21st Century
Jessicah Pierre
400 Years After Slavery’s Start, No More Band-Aids
Kim C. Domenico
Finding the Comrades: Maintaining Precarious Sanity In Insane Times
Gary Leupp
“Based on the Fact She Won’t Sell Me Greenland, I’m Staying Home”
John Kendall Hawkins
The Chicago 8 Trial, Revisited
Rivera Sun
Tapping into People Power
Ted Rall
As Long as Enemies of the State Keep Dying Before Trial, No One Should Trust the State
Jesse Jackson
The Significance of the “1619 Project”
Thomas Knapp
“Nuance” in Politics and Public Policy? No Thanks
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and Endangered Species, Wildlife and Human
Mel Gurtov
China’s Hong Kong Nightmare, and the US Response
Ron Forthofer
Sick of Being a Guinea Pig
Nicky Reid
Why I Stopped Being White (and You Should Too)
Jill Richardson
As the School Year Starts, I’m Grateful for the ADA
Seth Sandronsky
Rethinking the GDR
Adolf Alzuphar
Tears / Ayizan Velekete
Stephen Cooper
General Jah Mikey: “I Just Love That Microphone, Man”
Louis Proyect
Slaves to the Clock
David Yearsley
Moral Cantatas
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail