Democrat seeks Cambridge Analytica documents on alleged hiring of foreign nationals who worked on US campaigns

The top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee wants to force Cambridge Analytica to turn over documents its withholding related to allegations it violated federal election regulations.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the committee’s ranking member, is urging Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., to subpoena the British data firm, which worked with the Trump campaign during the 2016 election, for the documents.

“I am writing to request that you issue a subpoena to obtain documents relating to allegations that Cambridge Analytica may have violated U.S. election regulations that prohibit foreign nationals from providing high-level strategy or advice on decision-making for U.S. political campaigns,” Cummings wrote Wednesday in a letter to Gowdy.

Election regulations prohibit foreign nationals from participating “directly or indirectly” in the “decision-making process” of U.S. political campaigns.

Cummings’ request for Gowdy to issue a subpoena for Cambridge Analytica’s documents stems from an interview Democratic staff for the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees conducted with Christopher Wylie, a whistleblower who previously worked for Cambridge Analytica.

Wylie told staff the data firm was a “pass-through company” that used foreign consultants and employees to provide U.S. campaigns with high-level strategy and analysis. Wylie said Cambridge Analytica effectively worked as a “full service propaganda machine” that targeted people using psychological profiling and specifically crafted content.

News reports also indicated that Cambridge Analytica hired non-U.S. citizens that provided campaign strategy and messaging advice to Republicans during the 2014 midterm elections. At least 20 non-U.S. citizens hired by Cambridge Analytica worked on congressional and legislative campaigns in the U.S. in 2014, according to the Washington Post.

[Related: Watchdog group accuses Cambridge Analytica of violating federal election law]

A New York lawyer reportedly warned Cambridge Analytica in a 10-page memo from July 2014 about election regulations and noted foreign nationals could work in lesser roles, such as “functionaries” who handle data. They could not, however, participate in substantial campaign decisions or offer high-level analysis or strategy.

“Despite these warnings, the firm reportedly gave its foreign national employees inaccurate immigration documents ‘showing that they were not there to work when they had arrived for the purpose of advising campaigns,’” Cummings wrote in his letter to Gowdy.

The Maryland Democrat is urging Gowdy to issue a subpoena to compel Cambridge Analytica or its board members to turn over records related to the work of foreign nationals for several campaigns, including Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, documents related to immigration records for foreign nationals coming to the U.S. beginning in Jan. 2014, and information related to the legality of its work in the U.S.

Cambridge Analytica came under fire in March after it was revealed the company improperly harvested and misused personal information from 50 million Facebook profiles to influence voters during the 2016 election.

The company has since announced it is shuttering and filing for bankruptcy.