Conservative megadonors Charles and David Koch have reportedly invested massive amounts of money in a company that’s developing complex profiles of 250 million American voters and their consumer habits.
According to Politico, in the last four years the billionaire brothers and their allies have already spent at least $US50 million on the effort, which is being spearheaded by a data firm called i360.
The firm connects voter information with social networks, consumer data from credit bureaus, interactions with political campaigns, estimated income, recent home addresses, voting frequency, TV viewing habits, and “even the brand of car they drive,” the report said.
The Koch brothers are among the most prominent donors in American politics. Funelling much of their money through so-called Super PACs and other advocacy groups, the co-owners of Koch Industries have become a prominent punching bag for left-leaning activists and politicans critical of outside spending in elections.
According to Politico, the new i360 operation even rivals the data arm of the national Republican Party.
“The Koch network also has developed in-house expertise in polling, message-testing, fact-checking, advertising, media buying, dial groups and donor maintenance,” wrote Politico reporters Mike Allen and Kenneth Vogel. “Add mastery of election law, a corporate-minded aggressiveness and years of patient experimentation — plus seemingly limitless cash — and the Koch operation actually exceeds the RNC’s data operation in many important respects.”
A top Republican involved in presidential races told Politico the Koch operations “are the most important nonparty political players in the US today, and no one else is even close.”
However, the founder of i360, Michael Palmer, said the firm’s impact won’t necessarily be felt in the 2016 presidential race.
“Right now, we’re talking about and building things that you won’t see in 2016, because it’s not going to be ready until 2018,” Palmer said.
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