A new book says “Zuckerbucks”—millions of dollars donated by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and overseen by his wife, Priscilla Chan, to Wisconsin local governments and officials nationally who ran the 2020 presidential election—should be banned.
“For the first time ever, partisan groups were allowed—on a widespread basis—to cross the bright red line separating government officials from political operatives who work to win them,” conservative Mollie Hemingway wrote in Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech and the Democrats Seized Our Elections.
“The plan by Democratic strategists to bring activist groups into election offices worked in part because no legislature had ever imagined that a nonprofit could take over so many election offices so easily,” Hemingway wrote, adding:
“The plan was genius. And because no one ever imagined that the election system could be privatized in this way, there were no laws to prevent it. Such laws should now be a priority.”
Hemingway doesn’t say that Zuckerbucks distributed nationally was the reason that President Biden beat President Trump.
In Wisconsin, Biden beat Trump by 20,600 votes, out of 3.2 million cast. Wisconsin was one of three states that gave Biden enough Electoral College votes to win the presidency.
Nationally, Hemingway said, “The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, an organization led by (Priscilla Zuckerberg), gave more than $400 million to nonprofit groups involved in ‘securing’ the 2020 election.”
The book says most of that cash was “funneled through” the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), which handed out “Covid-19 response grants” to local election officials in Wisconsin and across the nation.
On its website, the nonprofit CTCL says it is a “team of civic technologists, trainers, researchers, election administration and data experts working to foster a more informed and engaged democracy, and helping to modernize elections.”
Wisconsin Republican legislators investigating how the 2020 presidential election was conducted have vowed to pass laws specifying how grants to run elections elections from third-party groups must be distributed in the future, or even banned.
You be the judge of what role Zuckerbucks may have played in Wisconsin’s 2020 presidential vote, after considering these statistics.
On Oct. 22, 2021, the Wisconsin State Journal ran a list of all CTCL grants to Wisconsin local governments, who run the elections and report results to the state Elections Commission.
The State Journal reported the five largest CTCL grants went to these cities: Milwaukee, $3.4 million; Racine, $1.69 million; Green Bay, $1.62 million; Madison, $1.27 million, and Kenosha, $869,545.
Vote totals for president in those five cities were Milwaukee, 194,661 votes for Biden and 48,411 votes for Trump; Racine, 21,321 votes for Biden and 10,499 votes for Trump; Green Bay, 25,036 votes for Biden and 21,125 votes for Trump; Madison, 136,007 votes for Biden and 23,122 votes for Trump, and Kenosha, 26,159 votes for Biden and 19,566 votes for Trump.
What did CTCL grants average per presidential vote in those cities? In Racine, $53 per vote; Green Bay, $35 per vote; Kenosha, $19 per vote; Milwaukee, $14 per vote, and Madison, $8 per vote.
A CTCL grant of $61,450 went to Rock County, which Biden won with 46,658 votes to Trump’s 37,138. A CTCL grant of $183,292 went to Janesville; another CTCL grant for $26,198 went to Beloit. Biden got about 60% of the vote in both cities.
Hemingway connected the dots this way: Zuckerbucks “helped those groups infiltrate election officials in key swing states by doling large grants to crucial districts.”
But CTCL grants of $5,000 each also went to 85 Wisconsin towns and 37 villages—many of which Trump won easily.
Three times as many voters (546 to 166) in the Town of Chilton in Calumet County voted for Trump, for example. And voters in the Town of Lisbon in Waukesha County, which also got a $5,000 grant, voted for Trump by a two-to-one margin (5,013 to 2,228).
Hemingway quotes Republican Rep. Janel Brandtjen, chair of the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections, on how grants from outside groups to local election officials took everyone by surprise.
“If it can happen to Green Bay, Wisconsin—sweet little old Green Bay, Wisconsin—these people can coordinate any place,” Brandtjen said.
Steven Walters started covering the Capitol in 1988. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org