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Web of Power: Cambridge Analytica and the Climate Science Denial Network Lobbying for Brexit and Trump

Posted on 22 March 2018 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from DeSmogUK by Mat Hope

It has been a heck of a few days in the spotlight for Cambridge Analytica — a ‘political consultancy’ that confesses it likes to operate in the shadows.

Revelations continue to emerge about its practices, including allegations of illegal use of Facebook data and corrupting foreign elections.

While the company denies any illegal behaviour, what we do know is that it has been behind seismic political shocks on both sides of the Atlantic: Brexit, and the election of Donald Trump.

Tied to those is a climate science denial agenda that seeks to slash regulation, and line the pockets of those with a vested interest in fossil fuels.

This map shows how Cambridge Analytica lies at the heart of a network of operatives pushing climate science denial in the name of Brexit and Trump:

View the full interactive map on LittleSis. For more information and profiles of all the organisations and individuals, see DeSmog UK’s Disinformation Database.

From Cambridge Analytica to Trump, via the Mercers and a web of climate science denial

On the US side, Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah Mercer are the key links. The Mercers invested approximately $5 million in Cambridge Analytica.

The Mercers are also well known funders of climate science denial, and its current global posterboy Donald Trump.

Robert Mercer emerged as the “single most influential donor to Trump” ahead of his election, according to the Center for Public Integrity (CIP).  Robert Mercer's super PAC, while not endorsing Donald Trump directly, would focus '”solely on attacking Clinton”, Bloomberg reported.

Mercer's strategists, super PACs, and other political organizations as well as his daughter, Rebekah Mercer, “emerged to play a pivotal role in Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign”, according to The New York Times.

The Mercer Family Foundation also spent at least $3,824,000 between 2003 and 2010 directly funding groups opposing climate change action. That money went to organisations including The Heartland InstituteManhattan InstituteMedia Research Center, and Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM).

The Mercers are also linked to other major funders of climate science denial including the Koch brothers. In 2014, Robert Mercer made a $2.5 million contribution into the Koch's Freedom Partners Action Fund.

The Koch’s have spent at least $100,343,292 on 84 groups denying climate change science between 1997 and 2011, according to Greenpeace — crucial years for international climate change talks.

Another of Cambridge Analytica’s funders (and co-founders) is Steve Bannon, former chief strategist for Trump.

Prior to joining Trump, Bannon has been the figurehead of alt-right propaganda machine, Breitbart News. He returned to the organisation after his ignominious depature from the White House.

Both Bannon and Breitbart are well-known for their climate science denial. Bannon hired infamous UK climate science denier columnist James Delingpole as a Breitbart editor.

For more information, see DeSmog UK’s map of a transatlantic network politicians and lobbyists pushing for Trump and Brexit.

From Cambridge Analytica to Brexit, via the UK government and anti-climate science lobbyists

Cambridge Analytica also has well-publicised ties to Brexit. It was involved with unofficial anti-EU campaign, Leave EU, having been hired by the group’s main funderArron Banks.

Arron Banks infamously shared a photo opp with Donald Trump and chief Brexiteer Nigel Farage in a golden lift. Farage has spoken at a number of events hosted by right-wing lobby groups in the US, including the anti-climate action Heritage Foundation.

Banks is also a political ally of Conservative politician and current Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom. Leadsom, who has a slightly shaky grasp of climate science, was a committee member of the official Brexit campaign group, Vote Leave.

Vote Leave was also supported by two members of the Conservative party, North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson and hereditary peer Matt Ridley. Both are well-known allies of the the UK’s most prominent climate science denial campaign group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

In October 2017, Paterson delivered a speech to an invited audience at the Competitive Enterprise Institute — a US thinktank infamous for spreading climate disinformation. He also signed a letter to the BBC complaining its coverage of the Brexit referendum was biased to the ‘remain’ side, and declared his support for Andrea Leadsom in the Conservative party leadership contest following David Cameron’s resignation. 

Cambridge Analytica also has ties to the party currently propping up Theresa May's government, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), through its pro-Brexit ties.

Infighting between the Leave EU and Vote Leave groups in the run up to the referendum spawned campaign group Grassroots Out, which was fervently supported by DUP MP and renowned climate science denier, Sammy Wilson. The DUP itself didn't have a single mention of “climate change” in its election manifesto, and has hindered climate action in Ireland.

For more information, see DeSmog UK’s map of climate science deniers pushing for Brexit based out of 55 Tufton Street.

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Comments 1 to 6:

  1. Great article, if a little short on background information on cambridge analytica. Cambridge analytica are hugely embroiled in numerous allegations of law breaking, pushing the law to the limits, and ethically questionable practices if you scan through wikipedia and media articles. There's far too much of this to dismiss as media hype and where there's this much smoke theres usually a fire.

    The key people are Alexander Nicks, Steve Bannon, and Robert Mercer. Obstensibly it is a data gathering organisation, however independent experts question whether its microtargetting techniques actually work.
    However it's activities appear to go rather beyond just data gathering and targeting potential voters, and it appears to me that  Cambridge analytica is basically a politically partisan dirty tricks organisation and a gun for hire, but with clear partisan leanings.

    The entire network of people identified in the article associated with climate denialism, and cambridge analytica, are acting in grotesque, and arguably unethical or underhanded ways and appear blissfully unaware how low they have sunk. Perhaps they are so paranoid about their world changing, that they will stop at nothing to prevent this, so the ends come to justify the means. Yet their fears are exaggerated, and their self obsession with power and wealth has clearly become distorted.

    People concerned about climate change, and people of moderate and sensible political views need to harden up and reject the agenda of the Kocks, Bannons and Mercers of this world and their front groups. They are manipulating decent but easily lead people with buzzwords and nonsense about "they will take our guns and freedoms" as a front for a corporate friendly agenda designed to remove all environmental rules, consumer protection rules, and enhance only the upper level corporate sector. The evidence for this is now staring America in the face. Wake up if you still can, and see it for what it is.

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  2. A related book is "Dark Money" by Jane Mayer.

    Review here.

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  3. Hmmm. Certain individuals will take whatever data they can find about people on the Internet, and use it to their own advantage to try to manipulate anyone they can. Ethics be damned.

    Whooda thunk?

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  4. From the Guardian a few hours ago:

    "Leaked: Cambridge Analytica's blueprint for Trump victory.  Former employee explains how presentation showed techniques used to target voters .

    Article here. complete with video interview.

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  5. Recommended supplemental reading:

    The Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, explained with a simple diagram: A visual of how it all fits together. by Alvin Chang, Vox, Mar 23, 2018

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  6. A follow-up article by Mat Hope of DeSmog UK...

    Mapped: Cambridge Analytica’s Ties to the Fossil Fuel Industry by Mat Hope, DeSmog UK, Mar 29, 2018

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