Former Google Chair's Data Firm on Payroll of Top Dem Presidential Campaigns

Eric Schmidt still acts as adviser to Google's leadership

Eric Schmidt
Eric Schmidt / Getty Images
August 20, 2019

A data firm backed by Eric Schmidt, the former executive chairman of Alphabet, Google's parent company, is now on the campaign payroll of nearly every top Democratic presidential contender, Federal Election Commission filings show.

Schmidt, who in June stepped away from his post at Alphabet, but continues to have a pipeline to Google's leadership by acting as a technical adviser to its board, helped Civis Analytics round up $22 million shortly after the 2016 elections. Schmidt also aided Hillary Clinton's campaign through another tech startup during that time. The former Google chair is a partial owner of Civis and also sits on the firm's board of directors.

It was announced in April that Civis Analytics would be working on behalf of Joe Biden's presidential campaign to help the former vice president connect with younger voters and small donors. On June 14, Biden's campaign paid $32,000 to Civis for technology services, filings show.

Civis, however, is not performing work solely for the Biden campaign. The Schmidt-backed group appears on the campaign payroll of nearly every top Democrat seeking to oust President Donald Trump from office.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D., Mass.) presidential campaign committee has paid $51,255.29 to Civis for research consulting. Sen. Cory Booker's campaign disbursed $47,000 to the data firm for software between March and late April.

In addition to Biden, Warren, and Booker, Sen. Kamala Harris's presidential campaign paid Civis $24,000 for an analytics platform. Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I., Vt.) campaign spent $18,000 on research from the firm. Other Democratic candidates, such as Beto O'Rourke and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), have also tapped Civis for its services this election cycle.

The firm has also collected payments this year from America Votes Action Fund, a nonprofit that bills itself as the "coordination hub" of the progressive movement; Fair Fight, a group started by failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams; NextGen Climate Action, founded by Democratic presidential candidate and billionaire Tom Steyer; the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee; and the Democratic National Committee, among others.

Civis Analytics was "born" out of President Obama's reelection campaign after Schmidt, who worked as a recruiter and trainer for the campaign, approached Dan Wagner, the chief analytics officer of the campaign, about starting a tech company at the conclusion of the 2012 elections.

"An advisor on President Obama’s re-election campaign, Eric first met Dan Wagner and the denizens of the Analytics Department on their home turf: in the Cave during their 4:30 p.m. dance break known as 'Club Claster,'" an early 2017 cached version of a now-deleted page on the company's website reads.

"As the sole investor in Civis Analytics, Eric has done more than keep the party going as an engaged mentor to the business and product teams and occasional attendee at staff meetings."

Schmidt also worked directly with Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign through a separate tech startup.

Schmidt's work was referenced in a memo attached to an email in the hacked Podesta documents, but the exact group where he was performing the work was never mentioned by name in the memo sent amongst the Clinton campaign staffers.

However, a tech startup called The Groundwork, which received seed funding from Schmidt, was ultimately paid $700,000 by Clinton's campaign. The Groundwork was developed through a company called Timshel, which was founded by Michael Slaby, the former chief integration and innovation officer for Obama's reelection campaign. Schmidt later appeared at Clinton's "victory" party wearing a staff badge.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee appears to have been the first political committee to pay Civis Analytics, with that payment making its way to the firm in early 2014. Civis has since collected millions from a long list of liberal entities.

Schmidt did not provide comment on Civis now being on the campaign payroll of the top Democratic candidates.

Published under: 2020 Election