WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney’s success in raising hundreds of millions of dollars in the costliest presidential race ever can be traced in part to a secretive data-mining project that sifts through Americans’ personal information – including their purchasing history and church attendance – to identify new and likely, wealthy donors, The Associated Press has learned.
For the data-mining project, the Republican candidate has quietly employed since at least June a little-known but successful analytics firm that previously performed marketing work for a colleague tied to Bain & Co., the management-consulting firm that Romney once led.
The head of Buxton Co. of Fort Worth, Texas, chief executive Tom Buxton, confirmed to the AP his company’s efforts to help Romney identify rich and previously untapped Republican donors across the country. The Romney campaign declined to discuss on the record its work with Buxton or the project’s overall success.
The project shows that the same strategies corporations use to influence the way we shop and think are now being used to influence presidential elections. The same personal information that we give away, often unwittingly when we swipe our credit cards or log into Facebook, is now being collected by the people who might one day occupy the White House.
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