In light of the most recent reports of shadowy data acquisition practices by British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, staffers who worked on GOP campaigns that hired the company are playing the victim.
BuzzFeed News reported Wednesday that aides to Republican campaigns that used Cambridge Analytica believe they’ve been “unfairly dragged” into the firm’s most recent scandal.
“We’re the victims here,” one former high-ranking Republican staffer told BuzzFeed. They went on to say that they were as unaware of the company’s practices as the rest of the country.
Last week, former Cambridge Analytica employee Chris Nix revealed to The Guardian and Britain’s Observer newspaper the extent of the company’s misuse of Facebook data, which was acquired via a third party and violated its contract with the social media giant. Shortly thereafter, the UK’s Channel 4 News aired video of now-suspended Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix discussing the company’s salacious methods to get people elected, which included hiring sex workers to blackmail opponents.
The company, which formerly employed ex-White House aide Steve Bannon before he left to lead the Trump campaign, did work for the presidential campaigns of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and now-HUD Secretary Ben Carson during the 2016 election cycle. Though the most recent revelations represent the most serious and detailed accounts of their practices, Cambridge Analytica has been known to employ dirty tricks since 2015, when The Guardian published an exposé on it.
Because increasingly-severe allegations against the company were public knowledge during the 2016 election, Republican candidates who previously employed Cambridge Analytica have come under fire for using its data. Earlier this week, Cruz was criticized by the Texas Democratic Party for using the company six months following initial revelations about the nefarious means by which they acquired “psychographic profiles” on voters.
“A campaign would have to be a special kind of stupid to knowingly and willingly engage a vendor that had a hint of impropriety,” BuzzFeed’s source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said. “And that’s clearly not the case with these campaigns.”