Romania’s ruling party denies collaboration with Cambridge Analytica

Romania’s ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) reacted in a press release to the recent media reports according to which it would have allegedly collaborated with Cambridge Analytica, the British data analysis and strategic communication company involved in the biggest international scandal of the moment, denying the information.

“Regarding the rumors circulated in the press about the alleged collaboration between the Social Democratic Party and SCL Cambridge Analytica, we mention that PSD did not work with this company, nor did it request such collaboration either during the 2016 general elections or in a another period before or after these elections,” reads the press release issued on Wednesday, March 21.

The international media reported that British consultant Rupert Wolfe Murray told the Associated Press (AP) that Cambridge Analytica approached him before Romania’s 2016 parliamentary elections to work for the Social Democratic Party. However, he also said he declined the offer so it’s uncertain whether Cambridge Analytica played any role in the December 2016 elections in Romania, which the PSD won by a wide margin.

The PSD leader Liviu Dragnea also denied the information on Wednesday, saying that in “no way” PSD worked with Cambridge Analytica. He also said that he understood that the company “got involved elsewhere.”

Local journalist Sorina Matei wrote on her personal blog that there had been a contract between SCL and the US consultancy firm Andreae & Associates, which targeted the fight against corruption in Romania and was recently changed amid the scandal around Cambridge Analytica.

“The US Department of Justice / the National Security Division / the Foreign Agents Registration Unit – FARA received a few weeks ago, at the start of the international scandal about the illegal practices of the company SCL (Strategic Communications Laboratories) and its subsidiaries Cambridge Analytica, an “amendment” to the contract concluded between SCL and the American consulting firm Andreae & Associates that was targeting the anti-corruption fight in Bucharest,” Sorina Matei wrote.

The journalist says that, in an unusual move, the two companies decided to register an amendment to the contract on February 13 this year. Thus, according to the submitted document, Andreae & Associates said that, through this contract, it researched the US foreign policy related to anti-corruption efforts in Romania and advised SCL Social on how to promote their goal of stronger anti-corruption mechanisms. Also, the company has been in contact with a number of staff members such as Harry Kamian, US State Department Executive Secretariat and Sandra Luff, Senatorial Office of the current US Attorney General, to try to arrange meetings between SCL Social and the US Administration, for the latter to provide American best practice in anti-corruption activities to SCL Social, according to Sorina Matei.

Cambridge Analytica came under the spotlight for illegally obtaining and using the private data of about 50 million Facebook users to create voter profiles, which it then apparently used to influence the results of the US elections and the Brexit referendum in the UK. The scandal led to a drop of more than 10% in the price of Facebook shares this week and has prompted the authorities in the US, UK and EU to start investigations.

Irina Marica, [email protected]