Big Republican spending has come out in new reporting that reveals that the Republican National Committee (RNC) — among other ad-related expenditures — has dished out about $5 million to an incredibly shadowy company for contact list acquisition, according to newly revealed filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The 2020 payments went to a firm called Digital Consulting Group LLC. The RNC has also been revealed to have paid some $5.5 million to Facebook in a series of three payments in late 2019, which were also designated for “list acquisition.” The payments were the first major RNC spending on Facebook since the end of 2016.
Meanwhile, according to FEC records, that “Digital Consulting Group” company was founded in mid-January of this year, just about a month before the RNC sent over an initial payment of almost $2 million. The company doesn’t even seem to have a website. If the firm is connected to political figures in the president’s own orbit, and that’s how the RNC connected in the first place, then that could represent millions of dollars getting pocketed by the president’s political allies, who could be making money off his re-election bid. According to Salon, the Republican National Committee “would not say whether Digital Consulting Group was affiliated with the Trump campaign or the Republican Party.”
In total, the RNC has so far paid the firm about $5.3 million. One official at the party told Salon that the company “places targeted acquisitions across all platforms as they work with those with the industry knowledge and expertise to do so” which “helps achieve better market rates.”
Almost $1 million of the RNC’s payments to Digital Consulting Group were made on June 17, 2020, which was the very same day that the Trump campaign ran ads on Facebook that used a Nazi symbol against “Antifa,” which is a loose coalition of left-wing activists that Trump and his political allies have ludicrously tried to hype up into some kind of existential threat. The ads used images of upside down, red triangles, which the Nazis used to identify certain groups of their prisoners — the Trump campaign ludicrously countered that the depiction was a symbol that “Antifa” members have used for themselves, as if that erases the Nazi history.
Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee has attempted to defend their huge payments to Facebook as legitimate. A spokesperson said:
‘These purchases were related to Facebook targeted ads where viewers would click and fill out their information and then be redirected to a donation page. The use of the descriptor ‘list acquisition’ is a common and standard way to categorize digital spending, as we use this information to build our email lists and cell phone numbers for future fundraising and political purposes.’
Again though — the RNC hadn’t even spent any substantial sum on Facebook ads for almost three years, so calling the payments “common and standard” is definitely a bit of a stretch, at best. Republicans have raised alarms about supposed censorship of conservatives on social media, but in reality, Facebook alone has allowed for the promotion of conservative content at a very high rate — and they’ve gotten a ton of Republican money. The Trump campaign has spent at least $37.3 million on Facebook ads since January 1, 2020.