President Donald Trump's re-election campaign is hiring a former employee of the notorious Cambridge Analytica data firm that helped target individual voters with disinformation ahead of the 2016 election.
Matt Oczkowski, who served as the now-defunct company's head of product, will help oversee the 2020 campaign's data program after also working on the president's last campaign, reported Politico.
Trump aides have insisted they did not use the data company's psychographic voter targeting in 2016, and they promise they won't use it this year, but Oczkowski's hiring does nothing to alleviate Democrats' concerns about online dirty tricks and social media manipulation.
"Even if the methods are new, sowing the seeds of doubt, division, and discord to turn Americans against each other is an old trick," tweeted former President Barack Obama, linking to a recent article about the Trump campaign's online operation.
The 31-year-old Oczkowski specializes in data and behavioral science, and sources familiar with his hiring say the former Cambridge employee with help determine where Trump and his surrogates should campaign in person.
He'll also help determine which states are winnable and should be targeted with ads.
Oczkowski, who declined comment to Politico, has privately said he will use traditional data modeling rather than psychographics.
After signing on with Cambridge Analytica in 2015, Oczkowski helped set up the massive Project Alamo campaign that poured ad money into Facebook to target individual voters with messages designed to trigger emotional responses to campaign ads.
Steve Bannon, a former board member for Cambridge, served as Trump's first White House chief strategist, and megadonor Robert Mercer was a major funder for the company, which filed for bankruptcy in 2018 and shut down.
Oczkowski joined the 2020 campaign last month, and payments to his company HuMn Behavior should show up on Trump’s next campaign finance disclosure.