Our elections should never be for sale; private money should not fund them. We should have learned this lesson well two years ago, but it looks like déjà vu is happening all over again.
In 2020, the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) – bankrolled by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan – gave nearly $350 million to mostly Democrat counties during the Presidential Election. This massive amount spent in only eight months was almost the same amount that the Democrat National Committee spent during the entire two-year cycle!
While donated under the guise of safe administering of elections during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was really nothing more than an enormous Democrat turnout operation. And with the recent announcement that the group will spend another $80 million to “support” local election departments for the fast-approaching midterm elections, states should get serious about not having the wool pulled over their eyes once more. They must pass legislation to completely ban private, partisan money from impacting our election systems.
When the Zuckerbuck charade was first floated in Louisiana, I immediately took action to prevent this money from being used in the Bayou State. I filed the Nation’s first lawsuit against CTCL’s third-party outside election influence, and I worked to twice pass legislation banning the private funding of election activities.
While both bills were undermined by vetoes of Governor John Bel Edwards, we led the charge and many others followed. Nineteen states have passed legislation banning the use of private money in the administration of elections. Some passed with bipartisan agreement; in fact, the Virginia Senate passed their measure with unanimous support.
This should not be surprising. People from across the political spectrum can agree, as our forefathers did, that our electoral processes should be local and fair. No individual, not even a Big Tech oligarch, should supersede the people’s elected representatives.
Citizens must have faith in our election system. That faith has been challenged with substantial evidence revealing CTCL’s selective grant distribution at the expense of voters living in rural or Republican-leaning areas and grant money spent on things completely unrelated to election safety.
In Missouri, funds were used to produce a “get out the vote” rap music video. Other states spent money on cars, salaries and overtime pay, and monitoring Facebook posts – a far cry from the purported protection of public health that the funds were originally promised to do.
Clearly, we need accountability to ensure this private group does not misallocate hundreds of millions of dollars at the expense of our democratic process. They must never be allowed to come into our states and tell our election officers how to do their jobs or spend money in direct violation of the law.
These problems, like so many during the Biden Administration, are not going away on their own and will only be getting worse if we do not act now – especially since the President signed an executive order last Spring that requires every federal agency to make a plan to “promote voter registration and voter participation” and submit it to his domestic policy advisor. What’s more: the order mandates all federal agencies to permit all “approved” third-party groups to register voters at their locations in the states.
While it remains unclear how these outside groups will be approved and by whom, one thing is for sure: it is not the government’s job to entice people to go vote! The government’s role is to provide an equal opportunity for all eligible citizens to exercise their right to vote, while ensuring that every legitimate vote is counted and that the process is transparent and secure.
Once again, Louisiana is leading this charge for election integrity. Our Legislature is moving a bill (H.B. 359) that would make sure the Legislature and the Secretary of State can oversee all new election funding and guidance, free from outside influence from third parties and the White House. The responsibility of supporting local election activities belongs to chief election officers at the state level, who are accountable to the people.
We cannot have a Zuckerbucks 2.0 with the power and resources of the federal executive branch behind it. Legislators and Attorneys General, from every state, should continue passing laws and pushing back in the courts to keep third parties out of local election activities. We know what Mark Zuckerberg and CTCL did in 2020, and we know what is coming this Fall – if we allow it.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on the Legislatures and Governors who refuse to enforce the law and protect the sanctity of our electoral process.