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Oregon's Secretary of State Defends Cambridge Analytica Connection

Secretary of State Richardson said that his 2014 campaign paid for a survey from the British company, which now faces immense scrutiny for its use of Facebook user data.

Posted: Apr 6, 2018 5:38 PM
Updated: Apr 6, 2018 5:57 PM

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon's Secretary of State Dennis Richardson released a statement on Friday, claiming that he was responding to critics who accused him of associating with the British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica during his 2014 campaign.

Criticism of Richardson comes from the Democratic Party of Oregon (DPO), who cited public records showing that the Secretary of State paid $5,000 to Cambridge Analytica in September of 2014 for "Micro Targetting/Survey."

In his statement, Richardson claimed that the $5,000 payment to the British consulting firm came out of a total budget of $3 million—and only represented the purchase of a single survey.

"My recollection is that our campaign was unimpressed," Richardson said. He then said that his campaign never used the firm again.

“I am deeply troubled that Oregon’s chief elections officer has a documented relationship with Campaign Analytica, a firm that is under international scrutiny for using illegal data mining practices to influence U.S. elections,” said Jeanne Atkins, Chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon.

The DPO also claimed that Richardson has spent over $100,000 on direct expenditures to Facebook since 2014, and that this sum is more than any other Oregon candidate. Richardson did not directly respond to this claim in his statement, and the DPO claim did not cite any specific data source.

“I do not dispute that online organizing is a key component of how political campaigns organize and contact voters. However, there is no doubt that Cambridge Analytica has repeatedly crossed the line and broken laws. Oregon voters are right to be angry that they were used as a test case in 2014. We must demand answers,” said Atkins.

Richardson also touted his record on voter privacy, having moved to keep private the phone numbers and birth month/day of voters. Voter names, addresses, birth year, party affiliation, participation history and other information are still available to any party that pays the state a $500 fee.

"Oregonians can be confident in the transparency, accountability, and integrity of my office and the professional staff in our Elections Division," said Richardson.

A native of Central Point, Richardson is the 26th Secretary of State for Oregon and a member of the Republican party.

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