Republican outrage over Zuckerberg’s 2020 election splurge

A bombshell report that suggests Mark Zuckerberg effectively “bought” the 2020 presidential election by funneling more than $400 million to local boards of election under the guise of a “non-partisan” effort has prompted outrage and calls from officials for reform.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis blasted the billionaire Facebook founder during a news conference at which he said a recent election reform law had “banned Zuckerbucks” in the Sunshine State.

“So, Zuckerberg, he spent over $400 million through these, quote, nonprofits to, quote, help with election administration,” DeSantis said Tuesday.

“But what they would do is they would require certain things to be done like mass mail balloting, ballot harvesting, and they would focus on partisan voter turnout, basically. That was totally unacceptable.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told The Post, “I continue to question whether Mark Zuckerberg’s highly partisan 2020 election spending was even legal.”

“While we still don’t know all that happened, public reporting on his influence over the 2020 elections in Green Bay and other Democrat strongholds raises enough suspicion,” Johnson said in response to Tuesday’s report by The Federalist.

Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized Zuckerberg for the hefty donations.
Paul Hennessy / SOPA Images/Sipa

Wisconsin state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, also a Republican, has commissioned a probe into the work funded by Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, in the state’s five biggest cities.

They include Green Bay — where the city clerk reportedly resigned under pressure to work with “grant mentors” and fix errors on absentee ballots.

On Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) retweeted a report about the investigation, adding: “Are our elections for sale? Did Mark Zuckerberg purchase the Wisconsin Presidential election?”

Zuckerberg’s money was supposed to augment government funding and “promote safe and reliable voting” amid the COVID-19 pandemic so that “every eligible voter can participate in a safe and timely way and that their vote is counted,” according to a September 2020 press release announcing the plan.

Sen. Rand Paul wondered about Zuckerberg's potential role in Wisconsin.
Sen. Rand Paul wondered about Zuckerberg’s potential role in Wisconsin.
Shutterstock

Earlier this year, an analysis by the conservative Foundation for Government Accountability found that in the battleground state of Georgia, about $29 million of Zuckerberg’s money went to counties that President Biden later won, at a rate of $7.13 per registered voter.

By contrast, the Peach State counties that former President Donald Trump carried received a total of $2.3 million — at a rate of just $1.91 per voter, the FGA said.

In a prepared statement, a Zuckerberg-Chan spokesman acknowledged the donations to the tune of $350 million to the Center for Tech and Civic Life and $69.5 million to the Center for Election Innovation and Research.

“CTCL issued an open call to local jurisdictions across the country and provided funding for all jurisdictions that applied,” spokesman Ben LaBolt said.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, and wife Priscilla Chan arrive on the red carpet during the 2nd annual Breakthrough Prize Award in Mountain View, California November 9, 2014.
Wisconsin state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has pushed for an investigation into Dr. Priscilla Chan and Zuckerberg in the state.
Stephen Lam/File Photo/REUTERS
Vos's probe would look into Wisconsin's five biggest cities.
Vos’s probe would look into Wisconsin’s five biggest cities.
Rick Wood/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP, File

“Nearly 2,500 election jurisdictions from 49 states applied for and received funds, including urban, suburban, rural, and exurban counties.”

LaBolt added: “While Mark and Priscilla provided an overall grant to CTCL [to] ensure funding was available, they did not participate in the process to determine which jurisdictions received funds, and as a [nonprofit organization] CTCL is prohibited from engaging in partisan activities.”

Neither a CTCL representative nor any of its three founders — executive director Tiana Epps-Johnson, director of government services Whitney May and director of civil data Donny Bridges — returned The Post’s requests for comment.

CEIR founder and executive director David Becker called the Federalist report “full of mischaracterizations” and touted his group’s distribution of $64.2 million worth of Zuckerberg’s money to 22 states and the District of Columbia.

In this March 3, 2021 file photo, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., speaks at the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
Sen. Ron Johnson has wondered about the legality of Zuckerberg’s spending.
Greg Nash/Pool via AP, File

“These grants helped states inform voters about changes to election procedures, polling locations, and recruit poll workers in response to the pandemic,” he said in an email to The Post.

“CEIR is very proud of our effort to assist election officials of both parties successfully ensure the most secure, transparent, and verified election in American history, with record turnout, in the middle of a global pandemic.”

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