Largest Breach in History Nearly Compromised Data on 198M GOP Voters

It is being reported that personal information belonging to nearly 200 million potential Republican voters was exposed in an apparent leak that transpired earlier this month. The culprit? A data firm–Deep Root Analytics–the Republican National Committee hired last election it tasked with acquiring, tracking, and handling this sensitive material. Moreover, it’s been suggested that nearly 61%, or 198 million, of the U.S. population would have been put at risk if this leak wasn’t contained. This is perhaps the largest breach of its kind–totaling 1.1 terabytes of information.

The information was stored on a publicly accessible Amazon server, and the contents apparently weren’t password protected. (Uh oh.) The RNC paid this firm roughly $1 million for their efforts in last year’s election efforts. Here’s more about the contents found in the leak:

61 percent of the US population. Along with home addresses, birthdates, and phone numbers, the records include advanced sentiment analyses used by political groups to predict where individual voters fall on hot-button issues such as gun ownership, stem cell research, and the right to abortion, as well as suspected religious affiliation and ethnicity. The data was amassed from a variety of sources—from the banned subreddit r/fatpeoplehate to American Crossroads, the super PAC co-founded by former White House strategist Karl Rove.

UpGuard cyber risk analyst Chris Vickery discovered the leak, which was determined to have taken place between June 1-14, 2017. Vickery discovered this leak during the evening of June 12th. Here’s more from UpGuard on the discovery:

The data exposure provides insight into the inner workings of the Republican National Committee’s $100 million data operation for the 2016 presidential election, an undertaking of monumental scope and painstaking detail launched in the wake of Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012. Deep Root Analytics, TargetPoint, and Data Trust—all Republican data firms—were among the RNC-hired outfits working as the core of the Trump campaign’s 2016 general election data team, relied upon in the GOP effort to influence potential voters and accurately predict their behavior. The RNC data repository would ultimately acquire roughly 9.5 billion data points regarding three out of every five Americans, scoring 198 million potential US voters on their likely political preferences using advanced algorithmic modeling across forty-eight different categories.

Spreadsheets containing this accumulated data—last updated around the January 2017 presidential inauguration—constitute a treasure trove of political data and modeled preferences used by the Trump campaign. This data was also exposed in the misconfigured database and had been for an unknown period of time.

UpGuard’s discovery — of perhaps the largest known exposure of voter information in history—is corroborated by technical evidence, as well as by the public statements of the responsible firms and political staffers.

How could this gargantuan amount of information be compromised and not secured? The RNC–and all entities that are tasked with data collection–need to be more careful employing companies tasked with handling case-sensitive information they collect for purposes of voter contact.

No password protection? No secure account? These are rookie mistakes that can be avoided. Please secure your accounts!

Another Story of Corruption at the RNC

I’m glad to see the Politico take on this story of self-dealing at the RNC. It is another example of the organization’s corruption. The RNC has a long history of hiring people and then magically, mysteriously seeing those people’s outside businesses get contracts. See e.g. FLS Connect.

Those outside businesses are not necessarily the best businesses and are often actually not good at all. But they use the RNC to sustain them, despite their inefficiencies.

Gerrit Lansing got hired at the RNC to be their digital strategist. Lansing, you should note, has no technical training. He got a BA in classical languages from Sewanee and classical languages does not include computer programming languages. He then went to work in Washington, making his way to the NRCC as its digital director before hopping to the RNC.

Like many others in Washington, Lansing set up an outside fundraising engine called Revv. Candidates could use Revv to raise money. Below this post is a fundraising widget for The Resurgent. We use a superior company called Anedot. And that’s the point. I think Anedot is a superior product designed by people who ran for congress and had computer, technical backgrounds.

When Lansing moved over to the RNC, guess what company the RNC started using for fundraising? But on top of that, I have had more than one person tell me of rumors that some candidates were “encouraged” to use Revv. No one has ever come forward and admitted it, but given how other contractors have operated, including, for example, Mitch McConnell using his clout to blackball certain consulting firms, it would not surprise me.

Self-dealing at the RNC is not prohibited, but should be. Often, superior products are getting shut out by inferior self-dealing contractors within the RNC. The RNC has a real problem innovating and often finds itself in a consultant suck.

The controversy puts White House press secretary Sean Spicer in an awkward spot. As the RNC’s chief strategist, Spicer denied to POLITICO in mid-2016 that Lansing had any financial stake in Revv.

“He has zero connection to Revv,” Spicer said then. “He had to sever the ties.”

In fact, Lansing never did. He received a $909,000 payout from the company last year.

“The statement that was issued last year was based on information provided by Gerrit,” Spicer told POLITICO this week.

I cannot recommend Anedot enough. If you are looking for a fundraising solution, their website is here. There’s a reason more than half the Republicans in Congress use Anedot. I have had nothing but good experiences with them. And I have no conflicts of interest in recommending them or self-dealing issues.

BREAKING: Ronna Romney McDaniel to Head RNC

President-elect Trump’s preferred pick for RNC chair has been confirmed in the position, Fox News is reporting.

Ronna Romney McDaniel will be the next chairperson. If you remember, she was the Trump-supporting niece of Never Trumper Mitt Romney and head of the Michigan GOP.

McDaniel was instrumental in helping Trump carry the normally Democrat-leaning state heavy with union jobs.

So the Romneys aren’t totally exiled from Trump’s GOP after all.

This Proves Trump Was Never Serious About Winning

Donald Trump has never seriously wanted to win the presidency. He didn’t want to win because that would require that he go to work every day for four years and deal with politicians he can’t buy or con.

Okay, let me rephrase that. Trump would probably like to BE president, but he doesn’t want the job. He never wanted the job because he hates asking people for money unless it’s for his own pockets or he gets paid to ask.

This is why, two weeks before the election, Trump has scheduled zero high-dollar fundraising events.

Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s national finance chairman, said in an interview with The Washington Post on Tuesday that Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee between the party and the campaign, held its last formal fundraiser on Oct. 19. The luncheon was in Las Vegas on the day of the final presidential debate.

“We’ve kind of wound down,” Mnuchin said, referring to formal fundraisers. “But the online fundraising continues to be strong.”

The RNC keeps 20 percent of Trump’s haul, under the joint fundraising agreement. Trump doesn’t need the cash because he doesn’t want to win, and he doesn’t care if close down ballot races need it. He’s moved on to other things, like his nightly 6:30 pm “newscast.”

Trump has also thrown away his appearance schedule. He’s in North Carolina, then Ohio, then New Hampshire. Clinton’s ahead by 8 points in New Hampshire. Trump is holding on to a tiny lead in Ohio, but without North Carolina, it’s fairly useless.

Today, Trump is in Washington D.C. cutting the ribbon on his newest Trump International Hotel. Then he’s flying to North Carolina for a couple of events there–in Charlotte (Mecklenburg County), which he will certainly lose, and Lenoir County, population 59,495, which he will likely win but won’t help him win the state.

But who cares about the polls? Trump has spent more money on “Make America Great Again” ball caps than internal polling.

According to Federal Election Commission filings flagged by the Washington Post, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign spent $1.8 million on internal polling between June 2015 and September, compared to the $3.2 million it spent on the businessman’s signature “Make America Great Again” hats.

Trump is more comfortable hawking merchandise to starry-eyed cult followers than determining how the race actually looks. Because he doesn’t care how the race actually looks. His campaign is one big cash flow source to his hotels (where he stays), his charter air service (that he flies), and all the amenities that Trump-owned or -interested companies provide.

He “campaigns” and gets paid to do it. When it’s over, Trump will move to the next swindle, which is almost certainly a media property.

It’s harder and harder to keep up the charade of actual campaigning this close to election day when the polls are showing an almost certain loss to his friend–to whose past campaigns he gave–Hillary Clinton.

His cult followers hear what they want to hear, so Trump keeps telling them he’s going to win, citing non-existent or unscientific polls.

All these profiles of Trump say he doesn’t know how to quit. He knows exactly how to quit. He just packs up and moves on, without acknowledging defeat. When the GOP handed him the nomination, Trump was already planning his exit. He was never serious, and this is just more evidence.

Why the GOP Will Probably Stay Stuck in the Mud

The GOP is going to have to move beyond Donald Trump after the election. But to do so, they are going to have to admit that the underlying grievances that led to much of Trump’s initial support are legitimate. So many people in the GOP now hate Trump supporters so much, they are unwilling to acknowledge the legitimacy of any grievance. They must.

But more importantly, the GOP is going to need a face change. They have replaced John Boehner, but Mitch McConnell remains the face of the GOP in the Senate and will continue to do so. McConnell has been the face of the GOP for a very long time and has been in Washington longer still. This is going to be a problem as the GOP moves forward. McConnell is a force of the status quo and that status quo is what a lot of voters are reacting too.

On top of that, change must come at the RNC. But change will not come easily at the RNC. Reince Priebus is already considering another term. Still other committeemen and committeewomen have taken to beclowning themselves on behalf of Trump. They’ve defended the indefensible, called for purges of those not supporting Trump, etc. It is hard to believe they will recognize the error of their ways after this is over.

As a result of that failure to recognize their errors, I suspect it is more likely they will double down instead of reform. That means they will choose to preserve the status quo, if not advance Trumpian candidates for the RNC Chairman’s position and have fights that fall out to the state level.

Continuing on with Trumpism and Trump supporters as the face of the GOP and leaders of the GOP will keep the GOP from regaining the trust of the American public. Keeping McConnell in charge of the Senate GOP will keep voters in general, and conservatives in particular, from wanting to give the GOP another shot.

In 2016, in a very crowded field, Donald Trump was able to get the nomination with 36% of the vote in the primary — a percentage unheard of for a major party nominee. Even in the divided fields of 2008 and 2012, McCain and Romney both got higher, though both fell below even 50% of the vote in the primary.

One of the reasons Trump was able to get the nomination in such a crowded field with such a small percentage of the vote is because too many of his rivals refused to leave the race, even when it was obvious Trump was using the crowded field to his advantage. The egos of politicians and the belief residing in each of them that they are indispensable gave rise to the most dispensable of all candidates.

I fear this will happen after the election as well and the GOP will stay stuck in the mud.

American Experiment Is Ending As It Began

Absent from the faux-news, feigned outrage and brain-eating filth of Election 2016, lurks the only certain and unavoidable tragedy for mankind. It’s not Donald Trump with the nuclear football. That’s shocking, I know. And ironically enough, it also isn’t the most-corrupt candidate to ever become the nominee of a major American political party. It’s not the greedy banks or those cold-hearted millionaires and billionaires. Can’t blame climate change, or the looming threat of a major foreign war. It isn’t even the absurdity of pretending we are all an androgynous clump of cells until we (fully!) exit the birth canal, and thus deemed worthy of a soul with the ability to choose our ‘true’ gender.

No, perhaps the most tragic, shameful part of it all is that you won’t even hear the real cause for concern on any cable news channel, or discussed on any mainstream website. That’s because the real tragedy of 2016 is much too sophisticated for the mollified, self-obsessed masses to comprehend. And so, while America tears herself apart over the unsavory reflection of our decrepit civilization, our fundamental liberties are silently embezzled by far lesser beings than the force which endows such powers.

“Virtually every aspect of our lives is to some extent or entirely controlled or regulated by the state. At birth our children are forced into the Social Security system and subjugated to a variety of mandatory tests and vaccines. They start out life owing about $55,000, representing their per capita share of the federal debt imposed on them to pay for the campaign promises of dead politicians. Our children are kidnapped from their homes and placed into daytime juvenile detention and propaganda centers (government schools) at age 6.”– James Ostrowski, November 11, 2014 in article titled ‘State of the Progressive America’

And, like all profound tragedies found in libraries of past empires, there is no way we can politically address the problem. Neither Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump can recognize the encroaching threat of tyranny from the balcony of their heavily fortified castle. Therefore, they will only contribute to the vast suffering it will cause. So yes, please, whine about Trump’s insensitive rhetoric. Go ahead and decry the delusional media crusade to assure Hillary is elected, and their complacency in the Soros-funded leftist effort to manipulate U.S. Elections. None of that, or nearly anything else we choose to debate in this country, will rescue even a single child from starvation or spare one moment of pain for those forced into hard labor. That’s what it’s like to live in a country where you do not have the right to liberty– and the world that emerges after the inward collapse of the freest, most powerful and prosperous nation mankind has ever known.pew-poll-candidates

While society caters to the fat, spoiled brats it has created, the dark army of serfdom draws evermore near. There is no escaping the battlefield, we will be made to fight the enemy. With the reemergence of such harsh realities, the divisions once misguidedly obsessed over like party, race, creed or social status will seem petty and infantile. The only ‘privileges’ which exist where America is going will be a roof over your head and food in your belly. We will pay the full price for our reckless stewardship over that which was fair and just in this world. Now the only decision is how great of a price that will be.

So once again, please ask yourself, ‘What kind of a people would choose Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump as their president?’ People like us. All of us. We are all in some way to blame for the state of our lives, our communities, our cities, our states, our country, and this miracle of a planet. The last hope for America can only be seized if individually and collectively, we admit we caused this mess, then accept responsibility for ourselves and our actions going forward. We must return to embracing the very truth on which this nation was conceived: If you do not take ownership over yourself, somebody else will.

 

Will the Real Donald Trump Please Stand Up?

After weeks of deteriorating polls, it seems Donald Trump finally surrendered to the whimpers of defeat emanating from Republican party elites. Seemingly out of the blue, the campaign welcomed a seasoned and well-respected political operative, Kellyanne Conway—and in true “Trumpian” style, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, Stephen Bannon, a man detested by many as an alt-right street-fighter. Then several days later, the scandal-mired former campaign chief, Paul Manafort, quietly resigned.

Perhaps more shocking than a campaign shake-up in mid-August, is that for an entire week, Trump was largely able to stay on-message. After months of promising to act more presidential, and failing, the long-awaited ‘pivot’ finally came to fruition. While still unapologetically controversial at times, Trump managed to make a surprisingly effective case against Hillary Clinton and long-failed Democratic Party policies both foreign and domestic.

The republican nominee and his running mate were the first to visit the flood victims of Louisiana, where they handed-out toys for children who had lost everything, and much needed supplies for those staying in shelters. He then flew to Milwaukee amid the violence following the police shooting of an armed man, to meet with police and veterans in the area. There, Trump made his first appeal to black voters, becoming the first national republican candidate in recent memory to boldly come out and ask for their vote in November.

This sort of outreach is great… but what about all the voters Trump has already alienated?

For example, Shawn Branch, 38, of Mesquite Texas, has voted republican his whole life. Initially, Branch was open to supporting Donald Trump in the General.

“I went into the primary open-minded. I wasn’t going to quickly lock-in on just one candidate,” Branch explained. “I was pretty much wanting Cruz, but then I saw Trump pulling ahead. Just something made me cautious about him. I was trying to make the best of things however, so I wanted to try to convince myself to support him.”

He remained undecided until the weeks surrounding the Iowa Caucus, when Trump started doubling-down on inflammatory tactics. When it came to supporting him in the primary, or even keeping an open-mind for the general, “Trump talked me out of doing both himself,” exclaimed Branch.

Branch withdrew all support of Trump once he realized he was working with Paul Manafort and Roger Stone. Pointing to their history, Branch concluded, “He proved he was all smoke and mirrors,” adding, “both are evil guys.”

“Stone is a career character assassin and trickster.” After some in-depth research, Branch believes that all “Trump’s grotesque lying and false attacks, all of that was fed to him by Roger J. Stone, Jr.”

Trump’s behavior was not the only issue for Mr. Branch this election. “I voted for Cruz in the primary and not one second did I believe the lies being peddled by Trump. And I knew I didn’t want to vote for Trump before the convention.” He said, adding “(but) I don’t know about the RNC and GOP now. I feel they broke the RNC rules at the convention right before our eyes. They were too easily taken over by a closet liberal.”

The same sentiments offered by Mr. Branch are repeated over and over when talking to other republican voters disaffected with Trump. Going forward, it seems the campaign had better tread-lightly if they hope to pick-up voters dissatisfied with the last 8 years and looking for an outsider. Perhaps enough Americans will be willing to put the past aside in hopes of a better future. But if recent trends repeat, even the best operatives cannot save a campaign when the candidate is the problem.

Mainstream Media & Bipartisan Corruption Created Trump. Here’s Proof They Haven’t Learned a Thing.

For decades, mainstream media cronies and their political allies were able to control both the domestic and international news narrative through selective reporting and spin. Then, out of the internet’s creation (thanks Al Gore), the information age was born. While still in it’s infancy, keeping undesirable stories and/or damaging facts out of the headlines was mostly successful. The bulk of the American electorate continued to rely solely on the traditional press for their worldview, and when expedient, the half-truths propagated by so-called journalists. Over the next 15yrs, that dynamic slowly began to shift. Every year that passed, more and more people gained access to the web and quietly discovered these inaccuracies by simply turning on their home computer.

According to Gallup, in 1999, overall public trust in media was 55% compared to 40% in 2015. Trust in the media continues to be significantly lower among younger Americans aged 18 to 49 at a measly 36%.

Technical innovation continued to boom, introducing consumers to even more-affordable computers then laptops; cell phones then smart phones; broadband then Wi-Fi; and iPod then tablets. For the first time in history, news around the world became effortlessly accessible within seconds. Brand-new media sources of all political persuasions began popping up as new websites, podcasts, and social media platforms evolved. To maintain their own relevancy, advertising revenues and grip over public opinion, network/cable news outlets, newspapers and magazines were painfully forced to adapt and thus compete with these new mediums.

Coupled with diverse, emerging new-sources were propaganda outlets, unreliable and unsubstantiated faux-news, gossip sites akin to supermarket tabloids, and fantastical bloggers out to prove any number of conspiracy theories. Confusion and frustration with unsubstantiated claims inadvertently caused the inception of partisan echo-chambers, and within those, willful blindness.

Old and new mainstream media continued to feverishly employ a range of outdated practices and new highly-effective tactics to enshrine their preferred political ideology into every level of government, corporate boardrooms, education systems, intelligencia and even pop-culture. All appeared to be going as planned— until the election of 2015-2016 when millions of enraged citizens put their support behind the one man openly cursing the media bias and political class corruption.

His rabid anger, by and large, seemed appropriate. Finally, someone powerful could see what was happening and wasn’t afraid to fight back. It did not matter that he was not always factual. For years the citizenry has busted US Government officials intentionally mischaracterizing the facts or bald-face lying, and those constitutionally entrusted to fact-check them by way of a “Free Press” weren’t always factual either. Underestimating the public’s sheer disgust with politicians and the press, the left-leaning media succumbed to both their addiction to ratings, along the pleasure it brought watching Trump terrorize 17 GOP competitors and the republican party nationwide. Supposing they could take him out before he did any real damage (to their interests), they donated billions worth of free media exposure to his campaign. As media attention and Trump’s support base grew, the more politicians, celebrities, and private sector figures across the political spectrum bestowed legitimacy to the idea of Donald Trump serving as President.

By the time anyone realized he was getting way too close for comfort, and therefore needed to be stopped, it was too little too late. Trump would become the GOP nominee. And sadly, just as many of us had long suspected, the GOP establishment feared losing their power over losing their decency.

Now, here we are. A turbulent narcissist might very well become most powerful man on earth. And, how does the US media and the political opposition respond? Just as expected, they’re attempting to wholly ignore, stall, spin and downplay any and all problematic reporting on Democrats. Exactly the same plan as before, but this time with more fervor in effort to destroy Trump. The problem is, that while many are “Never Trump”, the majority of GOP voters are not. So, although polls appear to show defeat now, will the media and political elite once again overstep the bounds of public tolerance and disrupt the current dynamic? Quite possibly.

Here’s an example: As social media is bustling with outrage over the treasure trove of cronyism and corruption uncovered, all of mainstream media was not. And, when they finally did, their short-lived indignation quickly shifted away from DNC and twisted into blame of Russia. Yes, they seriously expect voters to overlook the numerous incognito democrat-operatives posing as journalists in the media. Please disregard all those culturally insensitive and nasty things said by Democratic Party leaders when they thought you couldn’t hear. Hillary’s campaign immediately rescuing ‘disgraced DNC Debbie’ with a highly-coveted, make-believe role inside the deified Clinton machine is no big deal. Standard practice. And 42% of the party who supported Bernie by showing up at the polls, knocked-on doors, made calls, and donated their hard-earned money under the assumption he at least had a chance of winning? When can they expect their well-connected, powerful, multi-multi-millionaire gov’t insiders to emerge in defense of their faux-honor? Sorry, not sorry. Hear me lemmings? Get over it, All of it. Now “unite” as you’ve been instructed to beat Trump!

And, the GOP’s battle-plan? Capitulation, exile, and mass-defection to arguably the most dishonest, contemptable politician alive in the US today, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Yesterday, it was over 50 GOP security officials who worked in the George W Bush Admin. Today, it was long-time Senator Susan Collins from Maine. Who will it be tomorrow… at this rate, God only knows.

The US electorate is fed-up with the corruption, nervous about their future, and concerned for their country. If the media sticks to their past behavior, they’ll once again risk Trump appearing as if he’s a champion of the people. Attacking every insensitive, unmannered and nonsensical thing Trump says, while practically ignoring legitimate scandals such as the $400M in unmarked cash to Iran, is dishonest and unethical. And the American people know it. Now more than ever before, the lack of impartiality and honestly in media coverage is gambling the fate of our republic. Let’s hope they prevent the world at large from resting in Donald Trump’s tiny hands.