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Thursday, May 26th, 2022
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MADISON — Walworth County has become the first county in the state to ban private money for use in election administration.

The Walworth County Board of Supervisors last week adopted an ordinance prohibiting the use of outside funds like the millions of dollars in grants Mark Zuckerberg-funded liberal groups dumped on Wisconsin’s largest cities leading up to the 2020 presidential election.

The board’s action follows Gov. Tony Evers’ recent veto of a bill that would bar private funds in elections statewide.

Walworth County’s ordinance states:

  • No donation shall be accepted from any person or non-governmental entity for the purpose of elections administration, including but not limited to collection of ballots or voter registration.
  • No grant shall be accepted from any person or non-governmental entity for the purpose of elections administration, including but not limited to collection of ballots or voter registration.

The Republican-controlled Legislature passed a similar bill this session following the November 2020 election. As Wisconsin Spotlight has detailed in a series of investigative reports, the Chicago-based Center for Tech and Civic Life received hundreds of millions of dollars from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan for so-called “safe elections” grants. Ostensibly for equipment and supplies to make polling stations safe from COVID spread, much of the money was used for get-out-the-vote efforts targeting likely Democratic voters in the hotly contested 2020 presidential election. Wisconsin’s five largest and Democrat-heavy cities received the lion’s share of the CTCL funds in the state, and records show liberal activists embedded in the cities’ elections offices.

“Despite a plethora of condemning evidence documenting and verifying rampant election improprieties, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has vetoed the corrective election legislation that has been passed,” said Erick Kaardal, special counsel for Thomas More Society. The non-profit law firm and the Wisconsin Voters Alliance have taken elections officials in the so-called “WI-5” cities to court on charges they violated the state’s election bribery law for accepting the “Zuckbucks.”

“In the absence of any insistence on election integrity from the top, the Wisconsin Voters Alliance has been working with counties and cities to pass ordinances that specifically ban the acceptance of private monies for use in elections,” Kaardal said.

But some warn passing bans at the local level could ultimately damage the voter integrity cause.

“Banning private funding of elections is a good thing, but doing it at the local level only puts local voters at a disadvantage relative other areas that WILL continue to accept the money. This is why the legislation that @govevers vetoed was so critical,” Will Flanders, research director for the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty tweeted Thursday.

For now, Zuckerberg’s pet elections project won’t be dropping the kind of money it did into election administration in this year’s mid-term elections. The Center for Tech and Civic Life instead said it will launch a new program, the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence. The reported $80-million, five-year campaign is designed to create a network for the nation’s thousands of local election officials, who can apply for aid to improve their technology and processes.

Conservatives are concerned.

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