Someone Paid Thousands Of Foreigners 20 Cents Each To Hide HuffPost’s Negative Coverage Of A Democratic PAC
HuffPost’s April 2016 report investigated the tactics of End Citizens United, a political action committee founded by three former staffers at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party’s official organ dedicated to electing Democrats to the House of Representatives. ECU, which worked to elect Democratic candidates who support campaign finance reform, used aggressive and expansive email campaigns to rake in millions of dollars in online donations. The PAC’s pushy tactics angered other nonprofits working toward campaign finance reform, which came to think of the PAC as an arm of the Democratic Party stealing their donors with deceptive email marketing.
Until this spring, HuffPost’s story was the second to come up in a generic Google search for “End Citizens United.” But in the spring of 2018, an anonymous U.S.-based contractor paid at least 3,800 workers in countries around the world through the crowdsourcing firm Microworkers to manipulate what stories would come up when people searched for the PAC in Google, according to public job listings on Microworkers reviewed by HuffPost.
The lack of disclosure of subvendors is rampant in digital political consulting, and allowed by the Federal Election Commission. When Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign paid the research firm Fusion GPS to hire ex-British spy Christopher Steele to collect information on Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, it did not report the payment. Instead, the payment was routed through Perkins Coie, the Clinton campaign’s law firm, and described solely as “legal services.” This payment has been challenged in a complaint by the Campaign Legal Center, a watchdog nonprofit group.
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