Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson has responded to questions about connections between his 2014 campaign for governor and the controversial Cambridge Analytica consulting firm by brushing off concerns as overblown, political and "outrageous."
Richardson said in a statement that his campaign paid the London-based political consulting firm $5,000 to conduct a poll that left his campaign staff "unimpressed." He says the payment occurred long before anyone had knowledge of Cambridge Analytica's now-infamous breach of personal privacy by disingenuously harvesting data from Facebook on millions of potential voters.
Our Oregon, a union-backed advocacy group, and the Democratic Party of Oregon had been pressing Richardson, a Republican, to respond to questions about the foreign firm's involvement in his 2014 campaign against then-Gov. John Kitzhaber (D-Oregon). They raised questions about how voters can have faith in elections run by someone who may have benefited from foreign meddling in the 2016 election.
The secretary of state says his critics are looking for controversy where none exists.
"The credibility of political critics is undone by the inconvenience of the truth," he said in a statement. "Oregonians can be confident in the transparency, accountability, and integrity of my office and the professional staff in our Elections Division."
Richardson's campaign was not the only Oregon race that Cambridge Analytica touched. The firm also took on the task of "rehabilitating Dr. [Art] Robinson's image with voters" when Robinson ran for the U.S. House of Representatives against U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon).