As it became increasingly clear that his preferred candidate for U.S. president, Sen. Ted Cruz, was not actually going to become president, Renaissance Technologies co-CEO Robert Mercer realized he was going to have a much bigger problem on his hands, specifically: Convincing Americans to do something as stupid as elect Donald Trump president. Don’t get him wrong: Bob Mercer is an ideasman, and he had some ideas as to how to make that seemingly ridiculous eventuality come true, namely, having his data analytics firm harvest online data to more effectively craft individualized advertisements selling the con job of a lifetime. That could be effective, he knew, but it needed some practice, some perfection. A dry-run, if you will. Luckily, across the Atlantic, there was a referendum that looked an awful lot like the Trump campaign; indeed, Trump himself had endorsed it. What’s more, it was run by one of Bob’s old friends, United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage. So Mercer offered up his services gratis.
It has emerged that Robert Mercer, a hedge-fund billionaire, who helped to finance the Trump campaign and who was revealed this weekend as one of the owners of the rightwing Breitbart News Network, is a long-time friend of Nigel Farage. He directed his data analytics firm to provide expert advice to the Leave campaign on how to target swing voters via Facebook….
And it worked! Also, not that it matters, but it was probably illegal.
Trump’s team paid the firm more than $6m (£4.8m) to target swing voters….
The communications director of Leave.eu, Andy Wigmore, told the Observer that the longstanding friendship between Nigel Farage and the Mercer family led Mercer to offer his help – free – to the Brexit campaign because of their shared goals….
By law, all donations of services-in-kind worth more than £7,500 must be reported to the electoral commission. A spokesman said that no donation from the company or Mercer to Leave.eu had been filed.