DatAdat and the 'dollar Left'

The company group, considered the opposition's mastermind, is essentially controlled by Americans, whose trusted Hungarian ally is former PM Gordon Bajnai.

POLITICS OCTOBER 4. 2022 14:44

DatAdat and its influential circle has woven a web across Hungary’s political left, which is funded from abroad. There are numerous foreign companies in the group. The one in Vienna, for example, has people from the US Democratic Party as its majority owners. The company network is in part operated by the hinterland of the former government led by Ferenc Gyurcsany, as well as by former PM Gordon Bajnai and his erstwhile intelligence minister. The dealings of the company during the election period are currently being investigated by the Hungarian authorities. DatAdat is not exclusively a tool to grab power, but a lucrative business to some. Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet has compiled an article of everything that can be known about the dollar Left’s chemical lab.

First of all, let us introduce the head of the DatAdat group, Gordon Bajnai. Apart from the fact that he is a former prime minister and a successful businessman, it is worth recalling what businessman Gyula Gansperger, his old comrade-in-arms, said about him.

Everything comes together like semolina pudding

“In Hungary, – I think – there are basically foreign forces and financiers behind the moves of the whole opposition. (…) Who are these forces?” Mr Gansperger asks the question, and then answers it: “One of these is, let’s put it this way, the Soros Empire. The other part is composed of big-capital groups, that is, from Germany and especially the United States, who want to have influence here. I think Gordon [former leftist prime minister Gordon Bajnai] is their man.” “Not in the negative sense of the word. No. He is the minister, or former minister, who keeps in touch with these people. Obviously not (…) with Agent 007, as these people are all presidents and other key figures, I don’t know who, but there’s a set system… Everything that this camp receives, no matter what Gyurcsany and the others say, comes from abroad. Otherwise, this wouldn’t have come together like semolina pudding.”

This is how Gyula Gansperger described Gordon Bajnai during the discussions about a plan to sell the Budapest City Hall building, and there is nothing to add.

DatAdat’s main Hungarian company, called DatAdat Professional Kft., was registered in 22 December 2016. The leftist news portal 24.hu has recently published an article about the circumstances of the company’s founding: “The story starts when, after the third victory of Viktor Orban by a two-thirds majority, several well-known and lesser-known leftist politicians and background people had the idea that the Hungarian opposition should be reinvigorated both intellectually, technologically and materially, as without that, they considered Orban impossible to oust.

24.hu’s account, at least regarding Gordon Bajnai, is not far from Gyula Gansperger’s description.

As V4NA has already reported on several occasions, Adam Ficsor, former PM Ferenc Gyurcsany’s chief of staff and then Gordon Bajnai’s minister of intelligence, has been a member of DatAdat since the beginning. Also a founder is Tibor Dessewffy, the former head of Demos, which is considered the think tank of Gyurcsany’s government. He is also a professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences of ELTE University. Dessewffy’s university research work as the head of ELTE’s Digital Sociology Research Centre fits perfectly into the company’s profile (database construction, voter profiling).

Not long after its foundation, the company was joined by Ebit Consulting Kft., Mr Bajnai’s former company. In 2018, Bajnai listed DatAdat as his indirect property (with a 10 per cent ownership share) in his declaration of interest submitted to the European Investment Bank.

Last but not least, in 2020, Viktor Szigetvari, a fellow politician of Bajnai, joined the company as a member to perform executive duties. Viktor Szigetvari was Mr Bajnai’s chief of staff and, even earlier, a confidant of Ferenc Gyurcsany. Mr Szigetvari took to social media to boast about working for DatAdat, in the capacity of managing partner.

In 2017, Mr Ficsor described the company as one that “supports data-driven corporate transformations for Hungarian and international clients”. Introducing itself, DatAdat says the following: “the company was founded in 2016 as a joint project of social scientists, mathematicians and computer scientists. The company’s main profile includes, among other things, data-based marketing consulting, research and data provision. We develop various web applications and build models and IT data service systems for multinational market actors”.

Threads leading abroad

In fact, DatAdat is a group of companies comprising the subsidiaries of DatAdat Professional: DatAdat HR Kft, Datalyze Research Kft, and DatAdatOU, registered in Estonia. Data accessible in Estonia’s company register reveal that the executives are Adam Ficsor and Viktor Szigetvari, who served as Gordon Bajnai’s chief of staff. There is also a DatAdat company based in Vienna.

The firm registered in Estonia is a computer programming company, which generated a turnover of nearly four hundred thousand euros in the second quarter of 2019, and 340 thousand euros in the third quarter. Setting up a company in the Baltic country can be explained by the fact that Estonia is considered a real tax haven in terms of corporate taxation, especially for technology companies.

In addition, Datapraxis, another Estonian company in the data business – whose founder is Viktor Szigetvari, something he disclosed on his social media – could also play a prominent role. A third person, a good old key figure from George Soros’s network, also appeared in the firm.

At the turn of the millennium, using funds from George Soros, co-founder Paul Hilder started to build “Opendemocracy.net,” an online platform referring in its name to the idea of open society promoted by the stock exchange speculator. Next, just like in his previous position, he spent four years as campaign director at Avaaz.org, a platform with ties to the billionaire. This was the platform that intervened in the 2018 Hungarian elections with an array of targeted online ads helping the opposition.

The website of Datapraxis reveals that the company’s primary goal is to help its clients by massive data collection, mapping so-called “voter tribes”, testing messages, researching and eventually targeting voters.

The influence of the leftist-liberal hinterland in the US

In addition, DatAdat has been known to cooperate with Nationbuilder, an American social media campaign development company owned by Ben Horowitz’s firm. Former US President Barack Obama paid a personal visit to Ben Horowitz’s company (Andreessen Horowitz). DatAdat and Nationbuilder cooperate on a bot programme developed for political campaigns designed for Facebook Messenger. Ferenc Gyurcsany also started using such a programme, reaching hundreds of thousands of people with its help in the EP election campaign, according to his own admission.

The 24.hu portal has recently written that the Vienna branch of DatAdat, which, according to our information, signed a contract for supporting the 2022 campaign of the Hungarian left, is owned by two other companies. The minority owner is AVSF GmbH, owned by Viktor Szigetvari, the former chair of the Egyutt party and Adam Ficsor, while the majority of the company is in the ownership of Higher Ground Labs Fund III LP. The latter can be linked to the US Democratic Party, 24.hu writes, and “it was created with the express aim to shake up the Democratic Party, in a state of shock after the election of Donald Trump as president, with know-how and technologies from the Silicon Valley. The goal was to persuade the highest number of Democratic voters to cast their ballots. The managers of Higher Ground Labs Fund III LP also worked with former US President Barack Obama during his presidential campaigns. The main shareholder of the US parent company is a company registered in Delaware, considered an offshore paradise, whose ownership and management are not public.

In a video recording obtained by the Index portal, DatAdat’s communication director says:

We have an extensive network in the Democratic Party to have some level of influence when we have to involve experts during the phases of the campaigns.

According to the same article, Adam Ficsor said: “We only work together with progressives.” Knowing this it comes as little surprise that DatAdat’s operative staff has an army of campaign experts who can mostly be linked to the left wing of the Democratic Party and that many of them have ties to George Soros.

Spreading propaganda across all surfaces

The beneficiaries of DatAdat’s services also belong to the leftist world of Gyurcsany and Bajnai. In the event of any online contact with Klara Dobrev [wife of Gyurcsany and former DK party PM candidate in the opposition primaries], “DatAdat Professional Kft provides data management services and the servers necessary for storing the data, which are located within the EEA,” according to information available earlier on her website.

Another addition is that in a previously published article, the liberal portal Atlatszo.hu listed several portals that likely sent their data to DatAdat: the Idea Institute, linked to Balazs Bocskei, a site of Marton Gulyas’s Partizan, and the Eljen Szombathely (Go Szombathely) Association who has among its members Csaba Czegledy, Gyurcsany’s lawyer. The reference to DatAdat also appeared on the websites of Olga Kalman, Laszlo Varju and Lajos Olah [all linked to Gyurcsany and his DK party].

Also, 24.hu reported that DatAdat helped Gergely Karacsony’s 2019 electoral campaign, and they worked for leftist liberal parties during the 2019 campaign before the municipal elections.

The liberal portal wrote two years ago in connection with the smear site called Ezalenyeg that the “propaganda outlet disguised as a news page” may have churned out centrally controlled opposition messages which were made out out to resemble news articles, strategically placed to reach segmented target groups on a budget of tens of millions of forints, in several areas of the 2019 municipal elections campaign.

DatAdat also performed the most important aspect of “Operation EzaLenyeg”, that is, the formation of the target groups for Facebook ads, the 24.hu portal wrote based on several separate sources. After the elections in April 2022, Marton Gulyas, the host of the also foreign-funded Partizan video channel admitted to have cooperated with DatAdat.

Manipulated primaries

In light of all this, it comes as little surprise that the DatAdat network was deeply involved in the 2021 primary elections. However, after the numerous assignments from DK, it may be somewhat surprising that they joined the fight on the side of Gergely Karacsony and Peter Marki-Zay. The Bajnai-Ficsor interest group was also able to influence the outcome of the opposition primary, at least according to an article published by Index in March 2022 based on a recording in the portal’s possession.

Opposition parties decided on the process of having primaries, and we supported them in developing it, Adam Ficsor said during the conversation, also confirming that they were working for Peter Marki-Zay at the time.

It was at the request of Gordon Bajnai that in the second round, Peter Marki-Zay was picked as a contender to Klara Dobrev instead of Gergely Karacsony, whose popularity was in decline, a source well-acquainted with the circumstances of the opposition primaries and the relationship between DatAdat and the opposition disclosed to Index, adding that Peter Marki-Zay was helped to victory by the DatAdat team that knew the data of committed opposition voters participating in the primaries and was able to target them online.

Earlier, Peter Marki-Zay himself revealed that the company also worked for DK and Gergely Karacsony during the primary elections, and he recently told 24.hu that it was natural that DatAdat became an integral part of the opposition campaign, since the company had worked with almost all opposition parties prior to 2022.

Hundreds of invoices, plenty of orders

The left-wing portal also disclosed that on behalf of Marki-Zay’s Everyone’s Hungary Movement (MMM), “a framework contract was signed with the Vienna-based DatAdat GmbH for organising communication campaigns and events, communication consulting, database-building and organising social media-based campaigns” for monies “on the magnitude of well over a hundred million”, as “DatAdat did everything, we are talking about hundreds of invoices, they received plenty of orders”.

During the campaign, Index uncovered that the company even paid the bill for Mr Marki-Zay’s team in a restaurant in Vecses. More importantly, they produced videos and creative materials, managed databases, collected micro-donations, carried out text messaging campaigns, paid for Facebook ads, put up billboards, and rented the building of the left-wing campaign centre. In documenting the costs, they were particularly careful to make sure that no campaign tool with a party logo was financed with money coming from MMM, because that could easily be sanctioned, a source told the left-wing portal.

Stolen database, text message tsunami, legal action

In the 2022 campaign, DatAdat was able to reach approximately one million voters with phone calls and text messages, raising the suspicion that stolen databases were used, because supporters of the government, who certainly did not knowingly give them their contact information, also received calls from Peter Marki-Zay’s team.

It is no wonder that several complaints were filed with the National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information.

Gabor Kubatov, Fidesz vice-president, told Magyar Nemzet in an earlier interview that following his complaint, the National Bureau of Investigation ordered an investigation on suspicion of personal data misuse. In August 2022, the Budapest Police Headquarters provided the information that the criminal procedure was in progress at the Riot Police National Bureau of Investigation. In the interest of the ongoing investigation, they declined to provide further information for the time being, despite Magyar Nemzet’s inquiry.

After-tax profit increases 18-fold

2021 was a good year for Ebit Consulting Ltd, Hungarian ex-PM Gordon Bajnai’s firm. After ten years of barely noticeable operation, the company of former PM Ferenc Gyurcsany’s battlefield buddy suddenly increased its after-tax profit 18-fold: compared to 32 million Hungarian forints (approx 76 thousand euros) in 2020, the firm’s earnings amounted to 589 million (approx 1.4 million euros) in 2021, as revealed by the portal Adatradar.

POLITICS

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campaign, Hungary, left