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Emily @emlas
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Dark money, Dark ads -- 2016 hail mary edition

In the final days of the 2016 election, dark money PACs were pumping millions into ad campaigns focused on suppressing votes from key D voting blocks: Women, African-American & Millenial.

Regardless what MSM says, 2016 wasn't about the forgotten man. GOP knows they win not by gaining R votes but in SUPPRESSION of D turnout. Even a rainy day can work in their favor. So what does the post-Citizens United rain dance look like?

You've seen the Defeat Crooked Hillary campaign, run by Cambridge Analytica & funded by Robert Mercer's Make America No. 1 PAC. These dark posts are just the tip of the iceberg.

But were you targeted on YouTube or do you live in a local TV market exposed to this :30 spot**?

**Brought to you by Defeat Crooked Hillary and deployed to local markets via Cambridge Analytica's TV offering

Or this voter suppression twofer? Viewed over 800,000 times.

Or this one? 600K+ views.

Up next, Secure America Now c/o Harris Media LLC. To the naked eye, SAN may look like an independent grp that happens to share same opinions as Make America No. 1 PAC, but as it goes in post-Citizens United era: it all comes from the same place. EVERYTHING.

Thanks to tax documents obtained by OpenSecrets, we now know that Secure America Now's vile propaganda campaigns are funded by the usual suspects:


$2 Million from Mercer…

$1.1 Million from Lauder

+ another $60K from other GOP donors…

$2 Million from 45Committee (Ricketts +).

More to come on this dark $$ group once we get through SAN's activities...…

What did Secure America Now do with this windfall of cash just weeks from the 2016 election?


First there's "Hillary's Inbox" which @juliabhaber shared earlier this month.
cc @ushadrons

Launched late Oct 2016

"A parody website of Hillary Clinton's campaign email inbox..a healthy mix between educational and witty, bringing some of the most important issues to light in a new way."

A parody meant to mislead.

SAN called it a parody but like a game of telephone, that disclaimer was lost in translation as Trumpkins (humans & bots) shared the site via social media, word of mouth, etc. A sampling:

This was red meat to the cult that is today's GOP base. Once it was out there, the cult spread Hillary's Inbox as if it were those missing 30K they sought desperately.

A comment on an Infowars YouTube video:

Still live here:

Sidenote: That YT comment had a Google Analytics coded URL. Shows us SAN was running Facebook ads to promote Hillary's Inbox. I have SAN dark posts but found none promoting "HMail"

From the coded URL, we know the HMail Facebook ads were targeted to the newsfeed of an "affinity" audience in North Carolina. I have studied other SAN/Harris coded URLs and am confident that is what "nc" stands for. I have others for other sites with co, fl, nv, etc.

Here are 2 more examples in the wild (Lucky most people don't strip out the coding when they copy/paste links from FB to share on other platforms).

1) targets "connected" audience (could be people who like SAN page) in Nevada
2) targets "broad audience" in Florida

We don't know how SAN/Harris Media selected the users that fell into those audiences, and like Trump, I'm sure Vincent Harris wiped that FB business mgr account.

Also found some of SAN's banner ads that drove to

Tell me, do you see a DISCLAIMER so people know this is a PARODY?

The animated banners even ended with a call-to-action to "Find Your Polling Place."

Some timely ratfucking.

The HMail banner ads were seen between Oct 26 & Nov 9, 2016.

Next up I have 2 Secure America Now campaigns that targeted millennial voters Nov 1-8 2016. There was a lot of Mercer/Lauder/Ricketts $$$ to be spent...


One more thing re: -- Harris Media LLC is SAN's agency of record and hosted this site.

From all the WHOIS info out there, Harris acquired this domain on June 16, 2016.

Just 1 wk after the infamous Trump Tower meeting.

They didn't launch site til late Oct.

Makes you wonder: was this domain scooped up, initially, to house those famous missing emails?

Also makes you wonder what was really going on with the relationship between Harris & Trump campaign given what has been reported.

Did they ever really part ways? Or was Harris cast off to do something that was more useful coming from outside?

For which client did Vincent Harris acquire

Secure America Now?
OR Trump?

Moving on to a Secure America Now campaign targeted to the millennial generation.


This site is still live:

Quick video to add some color:…

From Harris Media LLC site:

"As a fun and interactive way for our client, [SAN], to break through the political ad clutter, we launched Obama's Cash Dash....a Frogger-style game which educated voters on President Obama's ransom payment to Iran. Click here to play now!"

You know what this game is about....

This headline puts it best: "Trump’s Favorite Iran-Obama Cash Story, Still Bogus No Matter How Often He Tells It"…

There wasn't a lot of buzz around Obama's Cash Dash. From my research I believe this was live for less than a week by election day 2016.

Secure America Now ran banners promoting Obama's Cash Dash, seen only Nov 4th and 5th 2016.

I imagine it costs a lot to build this kind of interactive microsite. Seems like a silly investment for such a short flight, but they had Mercer $$ to burn 🔥🔥

I've seen lots of negative ads. Hillary spent big and ran plenty of attack ads.

But I've never seen this type of lying and propaganda out of a group aligned with Dems. Facts matter.

Dark money, don't care.

SAN had another campaign targeting millennials -- the 2nd one did so in a more explicit way LOL.

The banner ads for this campaign were seen Nov 1st 2016. Another last minute project 🤷‍♀️

🤔 Let's throw some emojis in an ad and tell the millennials what's up 🤔


And surprise! What's up is a bunch of propaganda from a group of neocon war mongers like SAN Advisory Board Member & current Nat'l Sec Advisor, John Bolton.

After a short run in the final days of 2016 election, this project continues to this day:

PSA: Parents, block this shit ASAP.

Sucks John Bolton is in the White House -- don't let him in your house

Back to Hillary.


Because the misleading email "parody" site wasn't enough for Secure America Now. You can visit this site today.

From the Secure America Now blog:

Harris was really proud of this one.
h/t @AlanaBowker

The Footage of Hillary in Prison campaign imagery (and that of other SAN campaigns) has a similar look/feel as Internet Research Agency (Russia) account "Secure Borders"

Check out @ushadrons collection here:…

This thread is a long one b/c it's important to me.

I'm so fucking pumped for that incoming #BLUEWAVE in November.
People need to see what we're up against with this dark money churn.
Fuck Citizens United.

Next up, more SAN campaigns, dark posts, & a connected PAC

Secure America Now FB dark posts. I have others from Aug 2015-Jan 2016, but here are the ads run towards the end of the election, during SAN's dark money funded spending spree (w/permalinks).


Facebook Lead Gen Ads -- lots of data capture, perhaps building audience for the other campaigns (i.e. Hillary's Inbox)


"Welcome to the Islamic State of Germany!"

This one is very interesting.


The FB ad drove to another Harris produced microsite.

As we can see in the tracking link, the ad was targeted to an audience in North Carolina.

As noted in AdAge and the evidence above, Secure America Now focused a lot of their efforts on North Carolina and Nevada.…

As for the Google part of this campaign, this video with over 1 million views was run as an ad (likely pre-roll considering that view count) on YouTube.

To add another layer here, Vincent Harris worked with right-wing populist party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) during the 2017 election in Germany.

Talk about synergy.…

Such an interesting parallel here when you look at the post-election data story Facebook painted and Parscale bragged about re: Trump campaign dominance in the FB ad game.

Bannon wanted to work on AfD but couldn't. Was Harris his/CA's proxy?

There are many more Secure America Now microsites and more recent campaigns. I'll thread those soon.

Next a look at some other dark money productions of the 2016 election.
From a different group but remember -- it all goes back to the same dark place. The same dark $$.

45Committee is not a PAC…

45Committee doesn't disclose their donors but we know "$30 million of the $46.3 million raised by 45Committee came from just four anonymous donors who gave $7.5 million each."…

But judging by the donors to 45Committee's sister Super PAC, Future45, it is clear we're dealing with the usual suspects.

Again a reminder that what looks like separate, independent groups with the same interests-this is not the case. It all goes back to small inner circle.

45Committee lived up to its name during the 2016 election. This group & sister PAC Future45 together spent just over $45 million.

$45.6MM spent by a group that grew out of a Never Trump effort. Go figure.

Beyond the $2mm grant to Secure America Now, what else do you do with tens of millions of dollars to burn in the final days of an election?…

You make it rain.

Future45 banner ads were seen between Nov 4th-9th 2016.

1. This Hillary impersonator looks more like Leslie Knope
2. Some of these scenes look more like a day in the life of Don Jr. or the The Apprentice opening credits

Really? Your guy put his name on Trump University.

Voter suppression gold.
Fast-forward to Jan 2017 - the 45Committee spending spree continued. They ran ads in support of the confirmation of ONE cabinet nominee.

Taking it right back to the inner circle of the GOP donor class.

How much do you wanna bet that *at least 1* of the big 4 anonymous donors to 45Committee has the last name DeVos and/or Prince?

It all comes from the same place. Different groups put their names on these ads but the funding always leads us back to the usual suspects.

Almost forgot about the TV ads!…

Future45 TV ads at iSpot:…

Pay My Foundation by Notorious H.R.C.

This angers me on so many levels. I just can't. So this is where I drop the mic.

Keep your eyes on the prize (🌊🌊🌊) but also keep them open.
Democracy dies in the dark.

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