Trump-associated Firm Helped Send Unmarked
A Republican firm run by a top aide to President Trump’s 2020 campaign appears to have helped send unmarked text messages on Thursday that urged supporters in Philadelphia to converge outside a building where local election officials were counting votes, a report by the Washington Post revealed on Friday.
ALERT: Radical Liberals & Dems are trying to steal this election from Trump!” began the short text, sent in the hours before former vice president Joe Biden took the lead in the state. “We need YOU! Show your support at the corner of 12th St. & Arch St. in Philadelphia.”
According to the report, messages were sent from phone numbers that had been leased by Opn Sesame, a company that offers texting services to Republican candidates and causes, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to discuss the messages. Opn Sesame is run by Gary Coby, the digital director for Trump’s 2020 campaign, and it has worked for years on behalf of a number of key GOP clients, including the Republican National Committee. It is unclear which of Opn Sesame’s clients sent the message, and the company does not disclose its full list of users.
The texts sent Thursday did not mention Opn Sesame, the president, his campaign or any other sender, leaving people who received the messages no clear way to tell who was targeting them with information that sought to cast doubt on the 2020 election. Nor did the texts communicate a clear way for smartphone owners to opt out of receiving them in the future.
But the messages foreshadowed how Trump and his allies might use the vast troves of data they have collected over the previous four years to target sympathetic voters in a bid to disrupt a smooth transition of power.
By the evening, Trump’s lead in the state had narrowed as Pennsylvania processed mail-in ballots, which election officials previously warned would take days to tabulate because the GOP-controlled legislature did not authorize an earlier processing of the materials. Biden overtook Trump in the state on Friday.