Silicon Valley’s Big-Name, Big-Money Political Ad Gambit

The Daily Beast

A deep-pocketed progressive startup with backing from some big names in Silicon Valley is behind a network of companies running thousands of targeted political ads that have veered into the bizarre and occasionally deceptive, PAY DIRT has learned.

The firm, digital-media startup MotiveAI, has created a handful of limited liability companies in Colorado through which it’s purchased ads on at least 44 different Facebook pages. Some target people based on demographics, including women, Latinos, African Americans, students, seniors, military veterans, Christians, and, for lack of a better term, bros. Others present themselves as local news outlets. Some are explicitly left-leaning, while others feign support for President Donald Trump in an effort to undercut some of his priorities.

“This is a good example of the digital loopholes in our campaign-finance laws,” said Brendan Fischer, the director of federal and Federal Election Commission reform programs at the Campaign Legal Center, an ethics watchdog group. He pointed to MotiveAI ads attacking Republican Senate candidates in competitive states such as North Dakota and Tennessee.

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