Team Zuckerberg Hides Pro-Democrat Tilt of Election ‘Zuckerbucks’

According to a new analysis of election data experts, the $332 million Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan donated to a progressive group to run the 2020 elections was distributed on a heavily partisan basis favoring Democrats.

While these “Zuckerbucks” or “Zuck bucks” were touted as a resource meant to help all jurisdictions administer the election during the COVID-19 crisis, tax records filed by the progressive Center for Tech and Civic Life show that the group “awarded all larger grants—on both an absolute and per capita basis to deeply Democratic urban areas,” particularly in swing states, according to the new report.

Its authors include William Doyle (research director at Caesar Rodney Election Research Institute), and Alex Oliver (chief data scientist at Evolving Strategies, a nonpartisan group of researchers).

This contrasts with a December report Zuckerberg ordered. emphasized that “more Republican jurisdictions, defined as municipalities that voted for Trump in 2020, applied for and received grants.”

Doyle and Oliver say this conclusion is misleading because Republican jurisdictions were far more likely to receive grants of less than $50,000, which, they wrote, were “likely not substantial enough to provide the funding, infrastructure, and personnel to materially change election practices in the recipient jurisdiction.” These small grants made up 27% of the center’s awards.

In the counties where the Center for Tech and Civic Life made its 50 largest grants in terms of per capita spending, the average partisan lean in favor of Democrat Joe Biden over Republican Donald Trump was 33 points—meaning the aid could be expected to stimulate more Democratic votes. Twenty-five of the top 50 grants per capita went to just five states—Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, and Texas (the latter two where “Democrats were optimistic about Biden’s chances,” the authors write).

Seventeen of the top ten largest grants per capita were given to counties in Georgia, and Wisconsin. These are states that Biden narrowly won with 12,000 and 21,000, respectively. (Evolving Strategies also has a copy of the report. an online map and visualization app that tracks the Center for Tech and Civic Life’s top 100 grants on a per capita basis.) 

“The distribution of [the Center for Tech and Civic Life] program’s grant The amounts—both in absolute and per capita terms—shows, unequivocally, a systematic bias in favor of Democratic jurisdictions,” they write. The larger grants revealed a “partisan pattern of funding [that]It was especially evident in swing states. Regardless of intent, [the center’s]Geographical allocations of larger grants are prima facie and de facto partisan.”

Before 2020, the private funding of election administration was virtually unheard of. Against positive coverage of the development in liberal news media, conservative activists sounded the alarm about the Center for TechAnd Civic Life’s efforts. “Privatizing the management of elections undermines the integrity of our elections because private donors may dictate where and how hundreds of millions of dollars will be managed in these states,” Phill Kline of the Thomas More Society told The Washington Post. 17 states have effectively banned private funding of local electoral offices through new laws or regulations since 2020. Two other states, Alabama and Missouri, are awaiting for the governor’s signature on similar bills.

The center and its supporters argued that it was only logical that urban areas which support Democrats would receive more grant money because they have more voters. But Doyle and Oliver’s analysis shows that those areas received more funding on a per capita basis. While the grant size for urban areas might naturally be larger overall, they said, areas with high concentrations of voters should result in economic efficiencies where “substantial fixed cost of election administration is spread out over a relatively larger population, decreasing the per capita cost.” If anything, they said, per capita costs of running an election should be higher in more rural, Republican areas.

The report showed that Georgia alone received 10 of the top 50 grants per capita, totaling $41 million—more than 10% of the $332 million the Center for Tech and Civic Life spent across the country. Nine of the grants were given to counties with a partisan average of 35 points in Biden’s favor.

The center awarded a total of $10.1 million in grants in Wisconsin, but $8.5 million of that went to the cities of Green Bay, Kenosha, Madison, Milwaukee, and Racine—cities where Biden’s average margin of victory was more than 37 points. All five cities ranked on the Center for Tech and Civic Life’s top 50 per capita grants.

Pennsylvania also received four of the top 50 per-capita grants totaling $16 million. The Philadelphia, Delaware and Chester counties received $15 million each. Biden won Philadelphia by 64 points. Chester and Delaware voted for him by 27 and 17 points. Biden won Pennsylvania by just 1.2 points, so the victory might have been sealed by the influx of cash from private sources to the Philadelphia region, the state’s biggest cache of votes, which also has a history of corruption and electoral fraud.

The Center for Tech and Civic Life did not respond to Real Clear Investigations’ request for comment. Its executive director, Tiana Epps-Johnson, told The Washington Post in February that the grants given out “reflected where the requests for funding came from, not any bias on the part of her organization.” But the center has offered no insight into its internal process for awarding grants.  

An investigation by Broad and Liberty, a right-leaning publication dedicated to Pennsylvania politics, obtained emails showing that the office of Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor, Tom Wolf, coordinated with left-wing nonprofits to implement a secretive process that selectively invited Democratic counties to apply for “Zuck bucks” grants.

The center did not just award money to counties and cities that applied for grants—in many cases it embedded progressive activists into key local election offices to shape how elections were run. In Green Bay, Wisconsin, emails to the mayor’s office from the center touted its  “network of current and former election administrations and election experts available” to build up “vote-by-mail processes” and “ensure forms, envelopes, and other materials are understood and completed correctly by voters.”

In an email to the center on July 13, 2020, Celestine Jeffreys, chief of staff for Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich, wrote, “As far as I’m concerned, I am taking all of my cues from [the Center for Tech and Civic Life] and work with those you recommend.”

Eventually, the center helped install an out-of-state operative named Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein in Green Bay and other Wisconsin election offices, who engaged in activities unusual for someone other than a public official—such as asking for direct access to the Milwaukee Election Commission’s voter database and other sensitive data. Spitzer-Rubenstein became so active in running Green Bay’s election that City Clerk Kris Teske, unhappy with being replaced in her job, took leave a few weeks before the election and quit shortly thereafter. 

“I was verbally abused by the Mayor in front of everyone … ,” she reportedly wrote in one email. “He had [an] agenda when it came to the election, and I nor the Clerk’s Office were included, even though it’s the Clerk’s job to administer an election. He allowed staff who were not educated on election law to run the election, along with people who weren’t even City of Green Bay employees.”

Though technically considered a nonpartisan organization, the Center for Tech and Civic Life’s leadership team has an extensive history of working with the Democratic Party and progressive causes. Whitney May and Donny Brooks co-founded the organization with Epps Johnson. All three of them had previously worked together at The New Organizing Institute. described as “the Democratic Party’s Hogwarts for digital wizardry” and the “left’s think tank for campaign know-how.”

A further Democratic-Zuckerberg intersection: Former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe is listed as head of policy and advocacy at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the power couple’s philanthropy. In his 2020 book, “A Citizen’s Guide to Beating Donald Trump,” Plouffe wrote that the 2020 election “may come down to block-by-block street fights in Detroit, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee.”

The Daily Signal is open to all perspectives. This article is not meant to represent the views of The Heritage Foundation.

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