US politicians share supporter data across campaigns


In 2016, supporters of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul for president were surprised to begin getting emails from the Trump campaign soon after their candidates dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination. In an investigation, CNNMoney found that nearly every failed 2016 presidential candidate sold, rented, or loaned their supporters' email addresses to other candidates, marketers, charities, and private companies. From analysing thousands of emails and Federal Election Commission records, CNNMoney found that data sharing is a revenue source for campaigns such as Paul's ($212,495) and Mario Rubio's ($504,651). Computer security expert Robert Graham was able to prove that sharing was taking place when he tracked each campaign's fundraising emails by donating $10 to each campaign from a unique email address. The system let him see which campaigns shared his data, with whom, and who paid for the emails. Graham found a substantial amounts of sharing among Republican candidates, but not between Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Under US law, this is not illegal, and candidates can swap lists without having to report they have done so.

Writer: Jose Pagliery
Publication: CNNMoney
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