Speaking at CPAC in 2017, John Bolton boasted that his Super PAC’s implementation of “advanced psychographic data” would help elect “filibuster majorities” in 2018. According to a New York Times report published on Friday, Bolton’s Super PAC paid $1.2 million to Cambridge Analytica, the British firm that has come under scrutiny for its misuse of Facebook data to influence voters. Bolton’s Super PAC, moreover, was heavily funded by the Mercer family, who gave millions to Cambridge Analytica during the 2016 presidential campaign.
There is no indication that Bolton was aware that Cambridge Analytica was exploiting the personal data of tens of millions of Facebook users—but he was certainly aware that it was using an extensive trove of personal data to target voters. “The data and modeling Bolton’s PAC received was derived from the Facebook data,” Christopher Wylie, the co-founder of Cambridge Analytica turned whistleblower, told the Times. “We definitely told them about how we were doing it. We talked about it in conference calls, in meetings.”
What Bolton was paying Cambridge Analytica to do is, perhaps, more damning than his use of the shady data firm. “The Bolton PAC was obsessed with how America was becoming limp wristed and spineless and it wanted research and messaging for national security issues,” Wylie told the Times. “That really meant making people more militaristic in their worldview,” he added. “That’s what they said they wanted, anyway.” Cambridge Analytica produced fear-mongering advertisements aimed at drumming up support for Bolton and other hawkish Republicans. The relationship between the firm and the Super PAC grew “so close that the firm was writing up talking points” for Bolton after only a few months of collaboration.