If you’ve gone to church or bought anything at a store in the last three months, Mitt Romney might know about it.
According to an investigation by the AP, Mitt Romney’s campaign has been using a tactic called “data mining” to cull personal information about random Americans, with the goal of finding and targeting potential donors through advertisement. Two primary pieces of information the Romney campaign seeks are “purchasing history and church attendance” of potential donors, indicating that they are looking for high-spenders.
The campaign is working with an outside firm to track down such data, which is usually used by big businesses that are trying to do targeted advertising. And, it seems, the data-mining program was kicked off at the behest of one of Romney’s former coworkers from Bain:
The head of Buxton Co. of Fort Worth, Texas, chief executive Tom Buxton, confirmed to the AP his company’s efforts to help Romney identify rich and previously untapped Republican donors across the country.
The Romney campaign declined to discuss on the record its work with Buxton or the project’s overall success.[...]
Buxton confirmed that the data-mining project began with the help of Dick Boyce, Romney’s former Bain & Co. colleague, after Romney joined fundraising forces with the Republican National Committee. Buxton expressed such confidence in his business and analysis methods that, in nearly two decades of running his firm, he told AP he has always been able to answer essential questions for customers.
What’s more, the AP found no indication of how the Romney campaign paid Buxton, despite working with the company since June. According to Paul S. Ryan, Senior Counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, the campaign would have had to list Buxton in its disclosure forms, even if it was sub-contracted, if the company billed for more than $200. It is possible, however, that Buxton has not yet submitted a bill for its services.