Today
Wed 11 December 2019
Subscribe

Turlough Conway’s investigation into World4Brexit reveals connections to several other shadowy electioneering and funding operations.


A major investigation by the Jackson Free Press into the origins of World4Brexit has lifted the lid on the origins of Nigel Farage and Steve Bannon’s dark money vehicle to sell Brexit to the international community.

Byline Times can now reveal more about the money and data operations behind what the Jackson Free Press described as “a US-based dark-money group that supports the United Kingdom’s expected exit from the European Union”, promising to “expose the funders behind Remain”.

Before a letter to the Daily Telegraph this August written by the US chair of World4Brexit, Peggy Grande, the only other known figure attached to the group was its CEO Gerry Gunster – a key strategist in the Leave.EU campaign during the 2016 EU Referendum, led by Nigel Farage.

The new officials identified reveal connections between UK hedge funds, right-wing Israeli and US Christian groups.


Global Connections

The UK branch of World4Brexit is based in a solicitors’ office and has no online presence, income or donation structure.

One of the directors at the new UK office, Jon Dobinson, worked on two referendum leave campaigns funded by hedge fund billionaire Crispin Odey. Odey personally made £220 million shorting sterling and moving into gold on the night of the shock referendum result.

Dobinson, a CEO with Gunster strategies, was the social media campaign manager for ‘The Democracy Movement’ and ‘Global Britain’ during the EU Referendum, to which Odey gave £656,000. 

The other director of the UK branch of World4Brexit is David Berens, described as the “executive director” in Grande’s letter. Berens is also a secretary of the Jewish National Fund UK which raises money for Israeli settlements and is a director of Likud-Herud, connected to Likud, the right-wing Israeli nationalist party. 

On the board of governors is Martha Boneta from the Council for National Policy (CNP). The CNP comprises the wealthiest and most powerful right-wing Christian conservatives in the US.

Steve Bannon, an advisor to World4Brexit, is also a member of the CNP, which secured positions deep in Donald Trump’s administration.


Big Data Dolphins

However, the main group with the strongest influence in World4Brexit entities are associated with a data project connected to Gunster, Mississippi and the Brexit referendum.

Board member, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, is also a President of the Royal Commonwealth Society United States (RCS-US), set up in 2017. Again, Gerry Gunster is its CEO.

Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore, who did the groundwork setting up the RCS-US, were earlier involved with the ill-fated ‘Big Data Dolphins’ project in the ‘Ole Miss’ University of Mississippi.

Arron Banks, Andy Wigmore, Jonathon Boykin (Bryant aide and RCS-US board member) organising an RCS-UK event in Mar a Lago.

The Cambridge Analytica styled start-up encountered a problem when a lawsuit alleged personal data belonging to UK citizens would be used illegally. Notably, four out of the five of the Mississippi RCS-US board members were involved in the big data project.

Another separate non-profit was set up by a RCS-US board member in January, with the slightly different name of the Royal Commonwealth Society United States of America. It’s purpose is not known.


Voter Gravity

Though it has not gone live yet, the Brexit Party has created a donation page called Twice As Nice, which claims that donations will be doubled up to the value of £1 million.

With Nigel Farage’s party claiming access to a million pounds in donations, the question is: where is this money coming from?

By coincidence, a company called ‘Compliant Engagement Systems’, the sole shareholder of which is ‘Voter Gravity’, was registered a few weeks before the UK branch of World4Brexit.

The address is a “virtual office”, which usually means that there is no company premises or employees in the UK. Voter Gravity was founded by conservative US political operative Ned Ryun. He is also a regular contributor to Steve Bannon’s Breitbart. It also worked with Bannon’s Cambridge Analytica in the US presidential primary campaign of Ben Carson.

A 2017 Guardian article revealed that, in early 2015, Voter Gravity offered Farage’s UKIP its services for free – as a donation in kind to allegedly “get a foothold into the UK”. In September, Vice reported that a company called ‘Voter Gravity’ created a canvassing app named ‘Pericles’ for the Brexit Party. The app uses the Electoral Register to locate and provide information on voters.

Voter Gravity is 84% owned by a dark money non-profit vehicle called ‘American Majority Action’ (AMA). Like World4Brexit, donors to this entity are anonymous. AMA, like Voter Gravity, only deals with conservative clients. Virginia company documents also show that they share staff, premises and expenses. 2016 documents show Voter Gravity inexplicably losing significant money in a busy election year. AMA covered 84% of the loss of around $800,000.

In effect, Voter Gravity was offering its election services to clients out the front door, when its costs were largely being covered via anonymous donations through the back door.

With a well-funded vehicle like World4Brexit US in play, and data operations now in place, the scene is set for another combination of dark foreign money and dirty data to subvert UK elections. 


Stay up to date with news from the Byline Times Team

More stories filed under Democracy in Danger

More stories filed under Fact