Trump administration appointee worked at Cambridge Analytica

WASHINGTON — A Trump administration political appointee previously worked at Cambridge Analytica, the political data firm that assisted Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and is now being investigated for collecting private information from Facebook.

Kelly Rzendzian, a special assistant to the secretary at the Department of Commerce, worked at SCL Group in Alexandria, Virginia, from March 2016 through February 2017, according to her public financial disclosure report. SCL Group is the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, a firm that harvested private information from the Facebook profiles of millions accounts without their permission as part of its voter targeting efforts.

On her LinkedIn page, Rzendzian describes herself as a senior adviser at SCL Group. Her resume, obtained by the government watchdog American Oversight through a Freedom of Information Act request, says she worked at Cambridge Analytica starting in March 2016.

One of her responsibilities at Cambridge Analytica was to “Collaborate Across Teams to Execute Targeted Engagement and Outreach Strategies, including Oversight of Audience Segmentation and Message Planning for Presidential Campaign,” she wrote in her resume. The Trump campaign hired Cambridge Analytica starting in June 2016. Before that, the company worked on the Ted Cruz campaign.

Rzendzian’s history with Cambridge Analytica has not previously been reported. She declined to comment on her work with the firm.

15 PHOTOS
Cambridge Analytica scandal
See Gallery
Cambridge Analytica scandal
A man fixes posters depicting Cambridge Analytica's CEO Alexander Nix behind bars, with the slogan 'Our Data Not His. Go Straight To Jail' to the entrance of the company's offices in central London on March 20, 2018. The European Parliament on Tuesday invited Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg to speak following revelations that a firm working for Donald Trump's US presidential campaign harvested data on 50 million users. Facebook has faced worldwide criticism over the claims that Cambridge Analytica, the UK data analysis firm hired by Trump's 2016 campaign, harvested and misused data on 50 million members. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 20: In this photo illustration the logo of the strategic communication company 'Cambridge Analytica' is seen on the screen of an iPhone in front of a computer screen showing a Facebook logo on March 20, 2018 in Paris, France. Cambridge Analytica is accused of collecting the personal information of 50 million users of the Facebook social network without their consent and would have used it to develop software to predict and influence voter voting during the campaign American election according to the New York Times and the Guardian. Facebook share price fell by more than 5% Monday shortly after the opening of Wall Street. (Photo Illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 20: A protester called Heiko Khoo sticks posters of Alexander Nix behind bars onto the windows of the offices in a demonstration against Cambridge Analytica on March 20, 2018 in London, England. PHOTOGRAPH BY Matthew Chattle / Barcroft Images (Photo credit should read Matthew Chattle / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Christopher Wylie, a whistleblower who formerly worked with Cambridge Analytica, the consulting firm that is said to have harvested private information from more than 50 million Facebook users, speaks at the Frontline Club in London, Britain, March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
A man films Christopher Wylie, a whistleblower who formerly worked with Cambridge Analytica, the consulting firm that is said to have harvested private information from more than 50 million Facebook users, for a Facebook live cast as he speaks at the Frontline Club in London, Britain, March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Christopher Wylie, a whistleblower who formerly worked with Cambridge Analytica, the consulting firm that is said to have harvested private information from more than 50 million Facebook users, arrives at the Frontline Club in London, Britain, March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
A man wheels storage crates from the building that houses the offices of Cambridge Analytica in central London, Britain, March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
People walk past the building housing the offices of Cambridge Analytica in central London, Britain, March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
People walk past the building housing the offices of Cambridge Analytica in central London, Britain, March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Alexander Nix, CEO of Cambridge Analytica arrives at the offices of Cambridge Analytica in central London, Britain, March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
A man films Christopher Wylie, a whistleblower who formerly worked with Cambridge Analytica, the consulting firm that is said to have harvested private information from more than 50 million Facebook users, for a Facebook live cast as he speaks at the Frontline Club in London, Britain, March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 19: Traders and financial professionals work ahead of the closing bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), March 19, 2018 in New York City. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped over 330 points on Monday. Shares of Facebook dropped nearly 7 percent after news broke that analytics firm Cambridge Analytica was able to collect information on 50 million people's Facebook profiles without their consent. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 20: In this photo illustration the logo of the strategic communication company 'Cambridge Analytica' is seen on the screen of an iPhone on March 20, 2018 in Paris, France. Cambridge Analytica is accused of collecting the personal information of 50 million users of the Facebook social network without their consent and would have used it to develop software to predict and influence voter voting during the campaign American election according to the New York Times and the Guardian. Facebook share price fell by more than 5% Monday shortly after the opening of Wall Street. (Photo Illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 19: Traders and financial professionals work ahead of the closing bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), March 19, 2018 in New York City. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped over 330 points on Monday. Shares of Facebook dropped nearly 7 percent after news broke that analytics firm Cambridge Analytica was able to collect information on 50 million people's Facebook profiles without their consent. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
HOLBORN, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 20: Chief executive of Cambridge Analytica Alexander Nix arrives at the office near Holborn on March 20, 2018 in Holborn, England. PHOTOGRAPH BY Matthew Chattle / Barcroft Images (Photo credit should read Matthew Chattle / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

SCL Group started as a British political messaging group. Cambridge Analytica is the creation of SCL Group executive Alexander Nix, GOP megadonor Robert Mercer and his political adviser Steve Bannon. Nix was the CEO of Cambridge Analytica until he was suspended in the wake of the Facebook scandal.

In 2016, the Trump campaign hired Cambridge Analytica to place television advertisements, target digital advertisements and conduct polling in swing states.

Last week, a former Cambridge Analytica employee revealed how the group collected data from more than 50 million Facebook users ― mostly without their consent. Cambridge Analytica wanted the data to help create profiles of voters based on their psychological traits. It is unclear whether Cambridge Analytica used the information it collected from Facebook to help the Trump campaign.

Cambridge Analytica is now under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, congressional committees, and the U.K.’s information and data privacy regulator. Special counsel Robert Mueller asked Cambridge Analytica to turn over emails belonging to employees who worked on the Trump campaign, The Wall Street Journal reported in December.

Rzendzian joined the Commerce Department’s Office of Business Liaison as a special assistant to the secretary in February 2017, shortly after Trump took office.

The department did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Rzendzian’s job responsibilities or whether there are other former Cambridge Analytica or SCL Group employees who now work at the agency.

Rzendzian lists extensive campaign experience on her resume. She worked on John McCain’s 2008 presidential bid and Mitt Romney’s in 2012, the document says.

Before joining Cambridge Analytica, Rzendzian worked at i360, a company started by a former McCain adviser. The firm later merged with a Koch-funded data nonprofit, Politico reported in 2014. According to Politico, i360 spent over $50 million between 2010 and 2014 to link voter information with consumer data bought from credit bureaus.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
Read Full Story