POLITICS: PennAve

Data Trust hires ex-Boehner aide Johnny DeStefano to run GOP technology effort

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Republican Party,2014 Elections,2016 Elections,David M. Drucker,Campaigns,PennAve

Republicans have made another key hire as part of the party's effort to modernize its digital capabilities and achieve parity with the Democrats ahead of the 2014 mid-terms and 2016 presidential elections.

Data Trust, the third-party Republican organization charged with fulfilling this mission, has hired Johnny DeStefano, 34, as president. DeStefano most recently served as an aide to House Speaker John Boehner and is a long-time member of the Ohio Republican's inner circle. DeStefano took the reigns of Data Trust earlier in July, the organization confirmed Monday.

"DeStefano will oversee all of the executive functions of Data Trust," a source familiar with the hire told the Washington Examiner.

DeStefano's hiring follows on the heels of the Republican National Committee recruitment of Facebook's Andy Burkett, who left Silicon Valley to join the RNC as chief technology officer. Burkett's ability to bring his vision of a more technologically savvy RNC to fruition could depend in large part on Data Trust's ability to build and manage a digital infrastructure that can house, manipulate and share data across multiple platforms, campaigns and GOP organizations.

In a post-2012 campaign review, Republicans concluded that President Obama's technologically advanced digital operation — including how his re-election campaign culled, analyzed and utilized voter data and demographic statistics to motivate turnout — was significantly responsible for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's defeat. Data Trust has been charged with bridging that divide.

DeStefano spent the 2010 cycle as deputy executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee, helping the GOP win its largest House majority since World War II. He should bring a 30-something's fresh understanding of the importance of digital strategy to Data Trust, an organization with a board of directors that includes dedicated, long-time party operatives whose political careers were formed in a pre-Internet era.

Since its formation during the last election cycle, Data Trust has served as a warehouse for the RNC's voter files and related data. DeStefano is charged with expanding that organization and managing all fundraising and political operations. The vision for Data Trust includes creating an information hub that can be accessed by all approved GOP candidates, local parties and outside groups.

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