Questions have been raised about a number of apps that provide information about Arizona’s conservative candidates.
In fact, the state of Grand Canyon has quite a few of them thanks to Kari Lake, the former chief operating officer of the Trump campaign and financial patron of the Arizona gubernatorial candidate.
The Superfeed Technologies app developed for Lake appears to be the most popular of the four apps the Phoenix-based company has developed for Arizona GOP candidates — seemingly for free.
To date, more than a thousand Android users and an unknown number of iPhone owners have downloaded the tool, which provides regular updates from Lake’s social media feed, notifies users of campaign events, and connects them to donation and volunteer sign-up portals.
One problem: Arizona campaign funding records show no record of Lake’s campaign — or any political committee — paying Superfeed for the service, although the company explicitly describes its work. And that would make running the app a violation of state contribution rules, according to election attorney James Barton.
“In some states, companies and unions can contribute directly to campaigns. That’s not the case in Arizona,” Barton told The Daily Beast. “Maybe they promoted them for free, and if that’s the case, that’s illegal because that would be a company contribution in kind.”
In fact, the only flow of money reflected in public records has flown from mobile app developer to TV host-turned-politician. In personal financial reports Lake filed with the state earlier this year, she said she received compensation for her work as a “communications consultant” for FeedMe, Inc. The forms do not state the amount of the commission, except that it exceeded $1,000.
Arizona company records and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show that FeedMe was an old nickname that Superfeed dropped more than a year before Lake’s disclosure. Why Lake, whose campaign didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment from The Daily Beast, used a defunct name for the company in the official filing is unclear. The address that Superfeed lists on its website is the same UPS store that Lake identified in the disclosure as the location of her and her husband’s personal businesses.
FeedMe, now Superfeed, first caught attention in 2019 when The New York Times described it as a right-wing news gamble Western Journal. But when The Daily Beast contacted Western Journal Founder Floyd Brown, the longtime Conservative staffer, claimed he was no longer involved with the firm and said the operation is in the hands of former Arizona State Treasurer Jeff DeWit.
The Daily Beast could not confirm this because Arizona’s founding papers are several years out of date and because DeWit, the former Trump campaign COO and longtime deputy, has not responded to repeated requests for comment.
However, DeWits LinkedIn identifies him as the CEO of Superfeed.
The Daily Beast reached out to representatives of other campaigns who received what appeared to be free superfeed apps. Stephen Puetz, campaign manager for Jim Lamon – a businessman who lost the Republican primary to challenge incumbent Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) – said he had never heard of Superfeed and wasn’t aware that the now-defunct campaign was its own App available on Google Play and Apple App Store. He suggested that the app may have been developed as a demo but never properly launched.
Puetz did not keep his promises to get more information, and The Daily Beast later learned that DeWit was serving as Lamon’s campaign chair. Federal campaign finance laws also largely prohibit campaign giveaways.
A spokesman for Chandler restaurant owner Kelly Cooper, who is challenging Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ), told The Daily Beast that DeWit approached the campaign with a demo app that the company promised would “make social media – to consolidate feeds”. But the spokesperson insisted that Superfeed never submitted an invoice for the service and that the campaign was unaware that the company ever actually launched the app.
As of this writing, Superfeed’s Kelly Cooper for Congress had kept users updated on Cooper’s activities and as of November 2, connecting them to volunteering and fundraising opportunities.
The Daily Beast failed to reach the fourth and final contestant with superfeed apps, hopeful Austin Smith. Smith attended at least one event at DeWit and works as a corporate executive for the conservative activist group Turning Point Action, according to LinkedIn.
Superfeed’s Google and Apple stores reveal that it has developed apps for both Turning Point Action and its Phoenix-based parent organization, Turning Point USA. Neither organization responded to requests for comment from The Daily Beast.
Barton raised the possibility that Superfeed had received payment from at least some of those candidates through another provider, who could then have subcontracted with the mobile app developer. However, no single company provided services for all four campaigns. The attorney suggested that the Arizona Clean Elections Commission, which he represented while he was in the attorney general’s office, could investigate the situation and determine whether Superfeed had committed campaign finance violations by providing free professional services.
But there’s no way the job will be done when the candidates face their opponents on election day.
“I think it’s something they would investigate,” Barton said. “It’s just, it’s going to take a few months.”
The Clean Elections Commission did not respond to repeated requests for comment from The Daily Beast.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/kari-lake-linked-tech-firm-superfeed-wreaking-campaign-finance-havoc-in-arizona?source=articles&via=rss Kari Lake-affiliated tech firm Superfeed is wreaking havoc with campaign funding in Arizona