While Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg is apologizing for allowing Cambridge Analytica (CA) to use and abuse its members private information, he's not the only one who is deserving of scrutiny. Why is no one looking into Peter Thiel? After all Thiel is still on Facebook's Board, he donated to Trump and according to this article, he has bragged about having unlimited access to Trump.
And then there's Thiel's involvement with the Make America #1 PAC. Peter Thiel gave $1 million. As Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) pointed out on Twitter, Erik Prince and Peter Thiel were both major donors to the Make America #1 PAC after Trump became the Republican nominee.
1. Erik Prince was one of the top donor's to the PAC that paid for Cambridge Analytica's work for the Trump campaign. pic.twitter.com/cusBzcSgPC
— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) April 3, 2017
According to Federal Election Campaign records, Prince and his mother contributed $200,000. The Make America #1 PAC then paid CA over $1.5 million during the same time frame.
Erik Prince is the brother of the Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. He was also the head of the company formerly known as Blackwater, a mercenary group. He has suggested mercenaries should take over the war in Afghanistan. Prince is also a donor to Trump and was responsible for trying to establish a secret communications backchannel between Russia and the Trump administration that American intelligence services could not monitor.
The Make America #1 PAC was originally part of a group of PACs that supported Ted Cruz during the 2016 election cycle until Donald Trump won the nomination. Ted Cruz was also heavily supported by Robert Mercer, and was a client of CA. Mercer gave the PAC $15.5 million while Cruz was still in the running for president. Other disbursements from the PAC went to a Steve Bannon company, Glittering Steel while he was working on the Trump campaign. Kellyanne Conway's company, The Polling Company, was also hired by the PAC during her time advising Ted Cruz but before she joined the Trump campaign.
Another interesting tidbit: Make America #1 PAC's communications director was Hogan Gidley. Gidley is currently serving as the White House deputy press secretary. This press release from the PAC has the handcuff logo that CA's Mark Turnbull bragged about developing.
It would seem every time there is something hinky going on with Trump and the election, the same players are seen over and over. But when it comes to this particular Facebook fiasco, Facebook board member Peter Thiel was the one behind the scenes paying a SuperPAC to hire Cambridge Analytica to do its dirty work, not Zuckerberg. Maybe we should save a few pitchforks and torches for Peter Thiel and his pal Erik Prince.
Editor's Note (Karoli): Peter Thiel is a conservative/libertarian political player who has a lot of money and isn't afraid to spend it. He's also a fan of Donald Trump, bragging earlier this month that he "has access to Trump" any time he wants it. We do not doubt that he is correct about that, given that he paid seven figures for that privilege.
Enjoy this bit of gaslighting from Mr. Thiel:
“Remember when Trump said the election was going to be rigged? People said that was crazy — ‘How dare you question the integrity of the electoral process?’ That was the view of most of the people working at Facebook, too,” he said. “They did not think things were so hackable. It was a mistake, but an understandable mistake.” Facebook declined to comment.
The anger now being turned on Facebook, Mr. Thiel argued, is less about Russia specifically and more about tech arrogance — its failure to do so much for so many. It is a sentiment that helped put Mr. Trump in the White House.
Peter Thiel paid for that interference. He paid for it while thumbing his nose at the rest of America. Screw that. He should be removed from the Facebook board today. Right. this. minute.