The top executive of a data firm was secretly filmed pitching bribery and honey pots to an undercover journalist posing as a Sri Lankan political operative during a dinner in London.
Cambridge Analytica Chief Executive Alexander Nix and the firm’s director of political operations, Mark Turnbull, were filmed by British broadcaster Channel 4 News in January.
In the video, they tell the supposed Sri Lankan fixer about their past experience sabotaging opposition candidates.
Nix describes bribing incumbents in exchange for damaging information, and using sex traps to film and compromise candidates.
He also explains how subcontractors from the UK and Israel are used as operatives, to keep Cambridge’s involvement secret.
The video was released Monday.
Two days earlier, a report by the New York Times and the Observer of London described how Cambridge Analytica harvested private information from Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their permission. That story was based on interviews with former Cambridge employees and on documents, the newspapers said.
“The [Facebook data] breach allowed [Cambridge Analytica] to exploit the private social media activity of a huge swath of the American electorate, developing techniques that underpinned its work on President Trump’s campaign in 2016,” the New York Times said.
Cambridge Analytica has denied that the firm’s political division used the Facebook data as alleged.
The firm said Monday the Channel 4 video was “edited and scripted to grossly misrepresent the nature” of the conversations. The Cambridge executives were seeking to “tease out any unethical or illegal intentions.” They left the meeting with “grave concerns,” the company said.
Nix said he was playing along in the meeting. Cambridge Analytica, he said, doesn’t engage in “entrapment, bribes or so-called ‘honeytraps.’”
Here’s the Channel 4 report, starting at the London dinner meeting:
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.